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Brokers embrace going digital during COVID-19

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Malavika Santhebennur 8 minute read

Mortgage brokers are adopting to the rapid digitisation of the loan writing process triggered by COVID-19, while a large portion are optimistic about business revenue growth, according to a PLAN survey.

Brokers have been embracing the rapid digital adoption sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and believe automation and artificial intelligence could have the greatest impacts on the industry in 2021, according to a new poll.

PLAN Australia hosted its annual Digital Professional Development Day on 18 June, which was broadcast live to 850 brokers. During the PD day, 14 live polls captured broker sentiment towards major issues impacting the industry.

When asked which technology trend would have the greatest impact on the broking industry in the next year, 34 per cent of attendees chose automation, while 24 per cent said artificial intelligence, and 23 per cent opted for virtual verification.

According to PLAN, the migration to technology platforms for remote working and engagement has also extended to broker support teams. The majority of PLAN Australia brokers – or 86 per cent – said they felt digital interactions with BDMs had been sufficient to support them and their business over the last three months.

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PLAN Australia CEO Anja Pannek said COVID-19 has prompted brokers to rethink their business models, with many considering how new technologies will enhance their offering.

“The past few months have been extremely challenging for everyone. It is great so see the momentum and resilience of the broking businesses in the PLAN Australia network,” Ms Pannek said.

“Brokers are now adapting to a new operating environment and are rapidly adopting videoconferencing technology and automated systems that have only strengthened the relationships they have with their clients.”

Looking to the future, more than 40 per cent of PLAN Australia brokers said they are optimistic that their business revenue will improve beyond October 2020, while 44 per cent remain neutral.

Only 15 per cent said they were not optimistic about the near future. The findings echo the findings of Momentum Intelligence’s first COVID-19 survey, which revealed that brokers are working longer hours and seeing reduced revenue now and expect to do so into the future (the second instalment of the COVID-19 survey is now open).

These results reflect the ongoing challenges in the broader economic environment, Ms Pannek said in a market update session at the event.

“This has been hard for everyone, not only from an economic and business perspective, but also from a health and wellbeing perspective,” she said.

“I am incredibly proud of the continued momentum that we see in the businesses of our PLAN Australia members. For me, that shows the resilience each and every one of you has had.”

The PD Day included a broker panel that delved into some of the key issues currently facing the broker sector, including best interests duty and conflicted remuneration.

PLAN Australia head of operations Julianne Evans chaired the panel with three brokers from the network to discuss key lessons from the COVID-19 lockdown, including how to build trust with clients using digital channels.

[Related: Brokers reveal remote-working strategies]

Brokers embrace going digital during COVID-19
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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

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