Ninety-seven per cent of brokers who have made significant changes to their client offering during lockdown expect to maintain this way of working moving forward, new research has found.
According to the COVID-19 Business Confidence Survey, conducted by Momentum Intelligence on behalf of our sister title My Business, the vast majority of brokers have said they will maintain the changes they have made to their business during COVID-19 moving forward, particularly when it comes to remote working and technology.
Following on from the initial cross-industry survey conducted by Momentum Intelligence earlier this year, a second survey of 2,807 business leaders (owners, directors, C-suite executives) and employees was conducted over a two-week period in June 2020.
The dynamic report will serve as a barometer of how businesses and working Australians are adapting to the changed working and social environment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the report, 90 per cent of all businesses surveyed (covering accountancy, aviation, defence, financial services, law and real estate) are maintaining either some, or all, of the “significant changes” they made due to COVID-19.
Notably, out of all the business sectors covered, those in the mortgage and finance industry (making up approximately 10 per cent of all respondents) were the most keen to maintain their changes.
Seventy-one per cent of broking industry respondents said that they had made changes to their offering to clients during COVID-19, with 52 per cent of these being “minor” and 19 per cent “significant”.
The vast majority of changes related to remote working, especially for remote client interviews and providing services digitally rather than face-to-face.
When asked whether they would maintain these changes after COVID-19, 55 per cent of broking industry respondents said that they would keep “some” of their changes (the lowest of all sectors).
Conversely, more than a third (37 per cent) said they would keep all of the changes they had made, the highest percentage of all sectors surveyed.
Collectively, the broking industry had the highest levels of confidence that changes would be maintained by their organisations after COVID-19 (tied with those in the legal profession) at 92 per cent.
Moreover, broking industry respondents were the most likely of all sectors to keep the changes moving forward if they were “significant” – with 97 per cent of respondents that had made such changes stating they were likely to be maintained.
“The most obvious [change] in my industry is that a face-to-face interview was the norm. Clearly, now that no longer exists,” one broker wrote.
“We’re providing digital solutions to remove the need for face-to-face interaction with our customer,” another broker said, adding that this would remain in place moving forward.
Another told the researchers that “meetings conducted over Zoom” was also the new normal for clients, staff and third-party meetings and that working from home would also become more frequent.
Other changes that brokers said they would look to continue in future were online financial education webinars for their clients, held via social media or teleconferencing tools, and digital marketing.
As well as technology, brokers said they were also looking at checking in with clients more regularly to make sure they are coping – both financially and emotionally.
Speaking of the findings, Momentum Intelligence’s head of research, Michael Johnson, noted that across all sectors, businesses were focused on delivering their services remotely moving forward.
“The large majority of businesses have had to adapt to the changing world, many starting with the obvious replacement of in-person conversations to video conferencing,” he said.
“However, we’ve also seen many organisation make more significant structural changes to their offerings that are here to stay for the long term,” he noted, adding that some were looking at reducing office space or pivoting their businesses as a whole.
Mr Johnson also outlined that nearly 80 per cent of respondents who worked from home during the lockdown period were satisfied with the experiences, with 54 per cent of respondents indicating that they were more productive during their time at home.
However, generally speaking, respondents felt much less connected with their colleagues during this time.
Mr Johnson concluded: “We identified that people feel like they are more productive while working from home but do feel less connected to their colleagues.
“Clearly, the lack of incidental small talk is weighing on people’s ability to connect; however, as distractions have been minimised, these respondents have felt like they have achieved greater output in the same time.”
Keep an eye out for more key findings from the COVID-19 Business Confidence survey later this week.
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Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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