If you want to tap into the specialist market but aren’t sure where to start, there are several steps you can take that will help you
Finding specialist clients need not be an onerous task, but if you’re new to this market segment you may not know where to start.
In fact, there are some brokers who already have a successful business with well established clients but who still aren’t quite sure how to let specialist borrowers know that they are qualified – and ready – to help them.
Pepper’s director of sales and distribution, Mario Rehayem, says that even if brokers have been comfortable and successful in the past, they still need to expand their offering.
“Specialist clients are seen every day but are often under-serviced,” he says.
Mr Rehayem says some brokers will dismiss specialist borrowers without even realising they’ve missed an opportunity. Phrases such as ‘come back when you have an up-to-date tax return’ or ‘wait another year until I can place you in a prime loan’ are all too common.
“With an uncertain global economy, it is important for brokers to diversify and be able to adapt to the needs of every customer, rather than only servicing a selection of the borrowing population,” he says.
“Clients who require specialist products will, in theory, one day be in a financial position to refinance into a ‘prime product’.”
Mr Rehayem adds that if you tell these clients to come back on another day, they might go somewhere else – a risk brokers should not be prepared to take.
“If the broker was unable to provide the initial home loan solution to the customer, they could potentially miss out on the future business that this client might provide,” he says.
“Conversely, by finding the right home loan solution for a client in more difficult circumstances, the broker has placed themselves in a position to maintain that client relationship for life, as the customer will feel more loyalty towards the broker.
“Selling non-bank products broadens the scope of customers that a broker has access to,” Mr Rehayem says.
Once you have one specialist client, and know how it all works , you will likely find that more will come your way seeking similar outcomes.
Referrals and relationships
Otto Dargan, director of Home Loan Experts, has expanded his business on the back of helping specialist clients.
His business is now established as a solutions provider, and many people know to seek help from Home Loan Experts.
For brokers looking to get started in this market segment, he has some sound advice: “There are a lot of self-employed customers who have had credit issues or have specialist needs; talking to your accountant is a great place to start,” Mr Dargan says.
From there, if you offer good service, people will talk.
“Customers really appreciate your help when you get them out of a tough situation,” he says. “They will tell their friends.”
Once you have established a relationship with an accountant or two, and you have a few specialist clients, referrals may almost take care of themselves – but there is no harm in asking for more help.
Brokers should not shy away from asking existing customers for referrals. The worst that can happen is that a borrower will forget, or decide not to chat to their friends about their financial situation.
Chances are though, if they have a great experience with you and you help them through a difficult time, you will become part of the anecdote when they are chatting to their friends, family or business associates.
Looking for answers online
Home Loan Experts also has a comprehensive website targeted at those with questions and those looking for more complex solutions.
“What sets us apart from other mortgage brokers is our credit knowledge and ability to get your home loan approved, even if others have failed the company says.
“Unlike most mortgage brokers, we are specialists in a few select areas of finance.”
The website also explains how Home Loan Experts can help borrowers with ‘unusual employment’ – such as contractors and casual workers, and how the company can help with any specialist borrowing needs.
Many brokers already have the knowledge and expertise to help specialist clients; they just need to put it online so people can find it and associate it with their business.
Catering to specialist borrowers does not necessarily require a whole new set of skills; it’s just about using what you know to attract clients who need your help the most.
TOP TIPS: CRACKING THE MARKET
Many brokers already know how to promote their business and what works for them and their clients.
How do you make sure that what you’re doing reaches specialist borrowers though? What tools and tactics can you put in place to attract this market segment to your business?
Establish your reputation
If you establish your reputation as a diligent broker who finds solutions, people will get to hear about it.
Many specialist borrowers may have been told ‘no’ in the past, or be embarrassed by their past financial circumstances.
If you are known as someone who works hard, finds solutions and makes borrowers feel at ease throughout the whole process, specialist borrowers will seek you out.
Some specialist borrowers’ needs are more complex than those encountered with traditional loans – and they may have encountered incompetence or inflexibility in their past lending pursuits. Be different and people will certainly notice.
Connect with accountants
People who have experienced financial hardship and those who are self-employed will likely meet with their accountant regularly.
If you can establish strong referral relationships with good accountants, you are more likely to find specialist borrowers.
Ask for referrals
Specialist borrowers might come to you with many questions. If you can help them find a solution, you shouldn’t be scared to ask for referrals. If this prospect is intimidating, you can start off with something light such as: ‘If any of your friends or colleagues ever find themselves in a similar situation, just tell them to give me a call’.
Know the market inside-out
Research the market. Be familiar with your lenders. Know what’s happening in the wider economy so you can be aware of who might be looking for credit and where they will be sourcing their solutions.
If someone comes to you with a question and you are articulate and knowledgeable, they are more likely to engage you for their complex needs.
Even if you can’t answer something straight away, don’t be shy. Tell them what you do know, and tell them when you’ll be able to get back to them with a more comprehensive answer.
People will appreciate your honesty, research and the fact you follow through.
Have an easy-to-find website - with answers
Increasingly, people are starting their home loan and wider financial research online – and specialist borrowers are no exception. If specialist borrowers can find your website and see that you have helped people in similar situations or can read about their options, they are more likely to come straight to you for help.
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