Success or failure is on the cards

A business card is likely to be the only piece of literature a client keeps so it is surprising how little attention brokers pay to its design and content, says Payam Azadi

A business card is probably the most important piece of stationery in a broker’s brief case but it is still one of the most commonly neglected items when it comes to presentation and thought.

In any year, The Mortgage Times Group takes part in a number of roadshows and exhibitions where I get to mix with the broker community and collect business cards for my database via prize draws or raffles.

I am often astonished at the lack of thought given to presentation as a business card is a major reflection on you as a person and the organisation you represent. The way a card is presented can leave a lasting impression on a client – and let’s not forget it’s probably the only piece of literature or marketing material they will keep. I make the following observations based on what I see every day.

It is good practice to have “authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority” on your card and to supply your FSA number. If you are part of a network, it will have its own rules as disclosure requirements vary. Make sure you comply with these rules.

The most common mistakes made with business cards are displaying the old Mortgage Code Compliance Board or General Insurance Standards Council wording and logo, and giving too much information. It’s not a sales brochure after all.

Other errors include spelling mistakes, including loads of irrelevant qualifications such as BA Hons, GCSEs, cycling proficiency tests etc and website addresses that do not work or are missing a dot.

It is important to consider what the FSA will accept when it comes to promotional language. It has said that any promotional language such as ‘experts in’ or ‘specialists for’ or a list of services like ‘adverse credit, self-cert, Right to Buy’ would make the business card a financial promotion and it would therefore have to comply with the MCOB rules. Be careful when using these words.

The most important point with a business card is to keep it clear and simple. It is not your product matrix. Keep it clean and concise by showing only relevant information. You might be proud of your Maths GCSE qualification but if it doesn’t have a direct relevance to financial services and your line of business, remove it.

The key to any business card is the logo. The colours of your business card should always reflect and complement the logo design. And do not cut costs when it comes to the quality of card, as this can make a huge difference.

We are getting close to the biggest mortgage show, the Mortgage Business Expo, on November 16 and 17 at London’s Earls Court this week. Get your cards ready for this event and make sure that your business cards are at least fully compliant with the statutory regulations – only then will they have a chance of getting marked.