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Opinion: What does a broker do?

by Reporter5 minute read
Brokers

If you were to describe your job to a new client, what would you say? Would you call yourself a broker? A loan writer? A loan processor? Or would you bill yourself as a mortgage professional — someone who would go above and beyond to make the mortgage process seamless, stress-free and satisfying for the borrower?

If you answered the former three, you might want to reconsider — if the learnings from The Adviser’s US Study Tour are anything to go by.

Speaking at The Olympic Club in San Francisco last week, the director of strategy & technology at ‎Salesforce, Jonathan Miranda, said that while technology will “disrupt everything before it and fundamentally change it, because it [is] going to make it that much more powerful”, the jobs that are subject to disruption will be the ones that have to do with data entry or that have a large amount of data processing within them.

As such, if you consider yourself purely as a loan processor, technology and automation will be a serious threat, because it could change the face of mortgage broking by removing the loan processing, administrative and compliance jobs.

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“AI in CRM has a huge impact on businesses.... AI [can] change the game by taking away one little task that was generally a painstaking process for an employee and change it so it is easier from beginning to end,” the Salesforce futurist elaborated.

“AI is not meant to replace people but to make them more productive. If you do data collection or data processing, or predictable physical work, you will have that done with AI and all the other jobs are going to become the number one focus.

“If you spend half the time in front of the customer and half the time entering data, it’s going to change. They’re going to be in front of customers at all times.”

Mr Miranda, therefore, suggested that we should “focus on the human skills of empathy and connection”.

He explained: “Because human beings have a lot of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge that humans have will help you have a better conversation and better connection with people than the AI ever will, for a very long time.”

In the advent of artificial intelligence and automation, it’s the human element that gives us the edge. Therefore, brokers who just see themselves as loan processors — who do not put the relationship with the client front and centre of everything they do — are the ones that will not last long in this industry.

In my opinion, loan writing is not what a broker should do. A broker should be the trusted party that makes the process of getting a mortgage their be-all and end-all. A broker should be the person that a consumer can trust to get the most suitable loan for them. In the end, a broker should be much, much more than just a loan writer.

Mortgage industry veteran Todd Duncan, founder of High Trust, summarised the point prosaically when he said: “We’re about making sure that automation is on the side, helping us. But in this experience, you have to be able to understand the power of trust in the marketplace…

“We see automation as a tool to help produce access. But technology alone does not create high trust, and technology alone does not guarantee empathy. Empathy is the number one business strategy to accelerate trust and increase conversion. If we can’t have a borrower, a hire, anybody perceive that we are coming at this from their side of the deal, from their side of the desk, from their side of the table, we have nothing.

“Relationship is at the centre of humanity. Nothing else matters. Without relationship, technology does not mean squat. And a relationship that is built only on technology in the high balance world of mortgage financing, is not a relationship that is sustainable or profitable.”

[Related: Brokers should ‘move away from being a broker’]

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