Effective communication is important in times of change. Indeed, for many organisations it can make the difference between success and failure, especially when markets fluctuate.
In the mortgage market over the past two years we have seen lenders reducing mortgage volumes, tightening criteria, changing internal processes and adjusting their target markets.
It is clear that the need to communicate these variations to the broker community is the key But all too often I hear from brokers that they are confused about who they should talk to when changes have been made to internal structures or lending criteria.
Admittedly, some lenders struggle with large organisations that use centralised processing teams to improve their own customer experiences but we must overcome this stumbling block.
Meanwhile, encouraging more communication and interaction with BDMs presents another challenge.
Some lenders have too few BDMs to go round and while they often provide an excellent service they are usually overworked.
On top of this, national account managers are often left out of the loop when it comes to new criteria being published, with many being updated by brokers before their employers’ internal communications on the changes have even reached them.
A good case could be made for lenders supplementing their BDMs on the road with phone-based teams
To address the communication issues between lenders and brokers we need to tackle some fundamental problems including lenders having an insufficient number of BDMs and account managers being provided with inadequate product knowledge.
BDMs need better information and training so they can discuss driving business opportunities at meetings with brokers, rather than just popping in for catch-ups as is currently the case.
I would like more lenders to join in this debate and let brokers know how they are going to add value at each layer of management and to all relationships.
What are the outputs required in terms of value generated, or do the products sell themselves?
For example, a good case could be made for supplementing BDMs with telephone-based relationship teams.
We do not want our brokers to be tied up in review meetings but they should have access to face-to-face help when needed, as well as instant access to a telephone team whereby the caller knows who the broker is and the structure of their business.
At Connells, Sequence and Sharman Quinney we are initiating quarterly questionnaires of advisers to better understand their requirements, and sharing this information constructively with our lender partners.
Having more than 300 advisers in our businesses means we have a meaningful sample size and the exercise should generate some interesting findings on how we communicate with lenders.
Now is a great time to focus on better communications and raising the standard of service, especially as new lenders enter the market and some established players get back into it.
As products are similarly priced the service we receive, and therefore the service we offer our customers, can make the difference.