As technology and artificial intelligence make loan processing easier to automate, brokers should be looking to move from being a broker toward having “a professional mortgage practice”, a mortgage industry veteran has said.
According to author, broker and High Trust mortgage sales training specialist Todd Duncan, brokers should be focusing on improving culture and building trust if they are to succeed, as the dominance of technology means that “the trust barometer is really suffering”.
Speaking at The Adviser’s US Study Tour in San Francisco last week, Mr Duncan explained: “I want you to think about the decision you make as a leader, in terms of culture. I want you to think about how you’re building and running your organisation. I want you to be thinking about what is the strategic advantage that everybody in my company has in any customer interaction. And to understand that the measurement in life of any company — whether it be product, culture or the final relationship a customer has with you and the overall experience — is based on trust.
“Because what we see in the world is that the trust barometer is really, really suffering right now. We see world trust declining, we see corporate trust declining, we see financial sector trust declining, we see trust in a one-to-one relationship being held at suspicion if there’s not some direct referral, or some previous knowledge or existence of that person and what they do. And what I know about trust is that it really becomes the most important selling proposition that anybody has in this room.”
However, Mr Duncan acknowledged that trust is the “hardest” aspect of building a successful business.
“We can spend our entire career building an organisation around trust, but it can be gone like that [in a click]… And the decline of trust can absolutely bury a company, can tilt a company from forward-thinking growth to being reactive and respondent, all the way to non-existent.
“So we need to think about how every person on our team has to be not only an initiator of trust, an embracer of trust, a creator of trust, but also an endorser and a practitioner of trust. Because it is the one thing that gives you a strategic advantage in the marketplace.”
Establish an emotional connection ‘mandate’
Mr Duncan gave the example of the US bank Wells Fargo, which recently lost billions of dollars of deposits because of a perceived “low trust culture, with incentivised sales and compliance and regulation deficiencies”.
He said that the best companies, therefore, make it a “mandate” to have every sales activity centre based around empathy and emotional connection, as that is the unique trait of humans that technology has not been able to replicate — and is one which is the fastest at establishing trust.
The Duncan Group founder said: “It’s not about coverage, it’s not about advertising, it’s not about marketing, it’s not about any of that. It is about, at the very essence, the heartbeat between two human beings. One’s a specialist and one’s in need of advice around the most important decision they’re ever going to make in their household, which is buying and financing real estate…
“Plus, customers with an emotional investment in the business are more likely to turn into repeat long-term customers, and customers with an emotional connection to your business are likely to recommend your business to others.”
Specialisation is key
Mr Duncan added that specialisation was also a key trait to have, as there are an increasing number of products, rates and mortgage technology out there that can cause confusion.
The High Trust founder and CEO gave the example that when searching for a “do-it-yourself mortgage” on Google, there can be more than 17 million results. Further, there are 72 million results for “online mortgage”, which means that brokers are at the forefront of sifting through the noise and reducing customer confusion.
He outlined that brokers should therefore start building trust by moving away from branding themselves as brokers, but instead marketing their companies as “a professional mortgage practice”.
“I would even move away from being a broker. I would rebrand myself, I would rebrand the way that I operate. I want to position myself as having a professional mortgage practice, and I want this to be my brand.”
Mr Duncan concluded: “I think you need to begin to look at what you’re doing in the marketplace to have unadulterated, unequivocal, rating-supported, compliance-driven trust.
“Because if you have high trust, you shorten sale cycles. If you have high trust, you lower loan expense. If you have high trust, you accelerate the referral networks that are available to you in your marketplace that are just screaming for this kind of solution. And if you don’t have that, then you have nothing.”
The Adviser’s US Study Tour 2017 was held in San Francisco between 1 and 3 November. Designed exclusively for Australia’s elite mortgage brokers and third-party industry leaders, it focused on innovation, technology, data and how the best US mortgage brokers dominate their markets.
Speakers at the conference included, among others: Jonathan Miranda — director of strategy, technology at Salesforce — who spoke about the future of AI; Matt Swanson, CEO of Augment, who spoke about the future of chat bot technology and its ability to create a socialist environment; and StreamLoan CEO and co-founder Stephen Bulfer, who outlined how the adoption and progression of artificial intelligence could enable brokers to provide a more customised and valuable offering to their customers.