An inquisitive nature isn’t always on the list of crucial elements for success in broking, but as fintechs and digital disruptors enter the market, it could be the quality that helps brokers to not only survive, but flourish. Lucy Dean reveals more.
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In an industry where it can sometimes feel like you’re falling down the rabbit hole of regulation, compliance and management, brokers need to not only keep a close eye on what is happening in their business, but also actively seek out opportunities to engage with their clients and stay at the top of their game. Basically, they need to have a curious mind, Siobhan Hayden, chief operating officer at HashChing, says.
There’s no guarantee that the amount of loans a broker writes this year will be the same next year, so brokers need to read industry news, speak to their colleagues, look to thought leaders and join in on social media to stay abreast of the changes and, importantly, the innovations that can help them, she advises.
HashChing is one of those innovative technologies, says Atul Narang, HashChing’s chief information officer.
“These tools, or this [HashChing] technology … [that] is in the market, it’s not going to replace brokers.” Instead, he says, it can aid them.
An online brokerage, HashChing grew from a conversation between the two founders, Mr Narang and Mandeep Sodhi (HashChing’s CEO), who discovered a discrepancy between the rates a bank offers and the rates a broker can achieve. HashChing works by providing pre-negotiated mortgage rates to consumers who are then matched with a broker who undertakes a further assessment of the client’s needs, as in any broker-client relationship.
The client receives the broker’s details, including reviews, contact information and a photograph, and a phone call is arranged.
It’s a consumer-centric service, Ms Hayden emphasises, but it’s also an effective lead generation service for brokers as well. Better yet, they don’t charge a cost-per-lead. It doesn’t make sense to charge a fee when there’s no guarantee that every lead will transition into a real loan, she says. And in the case that a HashChing generated lead doesn’t pay off on the first go, at least the client is now aware of the broker, Ms Hayden rationalises.
For smaller brokerages struggling to make a mark, the ability to plant a flag in the digital sphere is a particular boon.
“Given the movement, rapid change and enhancement in SEO, and the cost to promote Google ad words, there's a whole range of very sophisticated digital solutions out there that businesses need to adopt,” Ms Hayden says.
“It's very difficult for individual brokers to be not only confident in how to do that but also financially capable of being able to pay the money to drive customers only to their website. So, from a lead generation point of view, we find ourselves as a business partner to brokers – and we're very happy with that relationship.”
After the lead
Ms Hayden says HashChing’s strategic goal is to consistently deliver solutions that have both the customer and the broker in mind. Their adoption of virtual verification of identity (VOI) technology is one of these solutions.
HashChing identified the VOI process, particularly for interstate clients, as a particular pain-point for brokers. “There are multiple opportunities in a market to ID a client,” Ms Hayden says. “Most of them are quite clunky and often require a face-to-face or in-branch identification process.”
The VOI system employed at HashChing, developed by e4, sees clients upload their driving licence and engage in a video chat. The information gathered, including facial biometrics, is then authenticated against the government database.
“[It] is effectively a consolidation of someone’s identity, which gives the broker the full information to make an informed decision about whether they are who they say they are,” Ms Hayden says.
A less flashy technology used by HashChing is its SMS notification service. Put simply, if a broker sets up a follow-up appointment with a client, HashChing will send both the client and the broker a reminder text message 15 minutes in advance. Further, if clients fail to send through the required pieces of documentation, HashChing technology will chase the consumer and remind them.
“These tools are actually to assist them to save time and take over all that admin work that is unnecessary so they can focus more on generating more business and helping their customers,” Mr Narang says.
Leveraging the tech
The likes of Uber and Airbnb have disrupted their industries because they’ve shown that they’re better than the existing model, Ms Hayden says. In the past, brokers saw fintechs as similar threats but that’s changing, she adds.
“The difference in our sector…[is] that really important role of advice that brokers perform with consumers,” Ms Hayden says.
Ms Haydne adds that with HashChing, brokers are reviewed by their clients, just the same as Uber drives and AirBnB hosts.
She advises brokers to review the technology opportunities in the market, and choose the options that enhance their businesses.
“The thing that brokers need to [ask] is: can I insert this model … into my business which would enhance [and] collaborate with my customers better, create a better outcome for my consumers and keep my price or cost the same or less?” Ms Hayden says.
The options are out there, she says. Brokers just need to be curious.
Broker case study
Collins Mayaki, managing director at SHL Solution Home Loans
Why is it so important to have a digital presence these days?
It’s important because everything is digital. I think it's paramount to any business, from textile businesses that are selling clothes, to a mortgage broker, to a lawyer. In this day and age, everyone – if they're looking [for] any service or product – goes online. So, I think having a digital presence is paramount if any business wants to stay sustainable.
What impact has partnering with HashChing had on your business?
I’ve been with HashChing for almost two years and it has helped grow my business dramatically. Before I had HashChing, I had to worry about searching for leads, internally generating leads, and so on and so forth. But having HashChing do all that is really reducing a lot of pressure on my side. I don't have to worry about that aspect. It's really grown my business and gets rid of my stress as well.
What's the customer feedback been?
What I most hear clients say is that someone's told them of HashChing and that they can get lower rates from them. That's the reason why they've decided to go on to HashChing; to work out if they can get something better than what they're currently receiving with their existing lender. I also hear from clients: “We saw your review, we can see that there's a fair amount of people who’ve worked with you and they've all given good feedback in terms of the service they received and that's why I want to deal with you.”
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