Brokers could lose clients if they ignore net benefits

Mortgage brokers are being warned they are in danger of losing clients if they don’t take advantage of online opportunities.

Research from Foolproof, a web usability company, finds there are certain critical points in the online mortgage shopping process that are make or break moments for intermediaries.

But the research uncovers some encouraging findings for brokers. It shows that despite using the internet as part of their mortgage shopping process, more than half, 55%, of online shoppers would talk to a broker and 45% would visit a lender’s branch before making a decision.

Foolproof’s Online Finance Shopping Survey on mortgages says that online mortgage shoppers typically consult the web at least two or three times before making a decision.

Some 30% would then expect to actually buy online whereas around half, 47%, would continue to research mortgages online but would not be ready to purchase.

Tom Wood, managing partner of Foolproof, says: “Shoppers are using the internet initially as a research tool to build up their mortgage knowledge before consulting a broker.

“Armed with their new- found knowledge, online shoppers are comfortable visiting an adviser.

“But brokers must recognise that once they have given their recommendations, shoppers will return to the internet to verify that information.

“It is at this point that shoppers may have their attention diverted by other brokers’ or lenders’ websites and the intermediary could lose the sale.”

Wood adds: “It’s critical that brokers form a really strong relationship with shoppers at an early stage to ensure they keep the sale. It also helps to have a strong web presence that they can refer their clients to as a secondary source of information and reassurance.

“Currently, the paucity of good, informative mortgage websites means people are going back to brokers because there is little online alternative.

“But soon, as websites improve, shoppers will have better online options and brokers will start to lose out. They must claim their own space on the net now.”