While 2013 might have seen fewer technology breakthroughs than previous years, brokers began to consolidate and embrace existing technology in new ways
Over the past 10 years, we have seen huge changes in the ways that brokers, armed with new technologies, can do business.
A decade ago, they were spending a great deal of time on administration and compliance; today, they are blessed with a plethora of CRM systems and platforms that manage much of this, allowing them to do what they do best – write loans.
A consumer focus
Technology in our industry has traditionally made things simpler, easier and faster – for the broker.
Online submissions, applications, and serviceability calculators are readily available to speed up the process, but consumers don’t generally see this side of the transaction.
“So ware has generally been about the deal,” says founder and director of Connective, Glenn Lees.
“We’ve had to work hard this past year to change that paradigm. The loan is a result of a customer interaction, so we want to make sure we get that customer engagement right.”
However, the use of mobile devices saw unprecedented expansion in 2013, according to Brett Spencer, CEO of Stargate.
“While 2012 was big on getting consumers to embrace smart devices, it was in 2013 that we really saw that expand,” he says.
“Brokers want mobile technology, but they don’t know what they want from it. So it’s up to us to find out how technology can help a broker and deliver the capabilities for them.”
The platform for success
Meanwhile, for brokers, technology platforms will increasingly play a ‘make or break’ role in practice management.
“We’re already at the stage where the effectiveness of the platform you use drives brokers’ productivity and profitability,” says Phil Quin-Conroy, CEO of PLAN Australia.
“But as these platforms grow in functionality, they will also play a key role in driving client interactions and the culture within a broking business.”
PLAN Australia believes in ‘building from the outside in’, and the group has worked closely with its members, using their feedback to create a so ware package that can boost productivity, business efficiency and improve customer service.
“The latest round of enhancements to further strengthen the market leading member technology platform, Podium 2.0, was released in May 2013,” says Mr Quin-Conroy.
“Broker feedback has driven further improvements to usability, including screen layouts, enhancements to maximum borrowing calculations for investment purposes and further streamlining to the production of credit proposal disclosure documents.”
However, Mr Spencer believes many brokers are falling behind – even if they have the latest and greatest software.
“Something that almost everyone is forgetting is that the software can only be as good as the hardware you’re using. You can’t run Windows 8 to its full capabilities on a desktop computer from the ‘90s,” he says.
“Also, consumers expect you to have the latest technology and be up to speed so you can do their application on the spot. If you can’t do it, then you’re not going to get the business.”
With 4G networks, wearable smart technology and the NBN rolling out through 2014 and beyond, there is likely to be no limit to the way in which brokers can use these emerging technologies.
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