High-tech way to look after clients

With mortgage volumes set to stabilise it is likely brokers will increasingly come to rely on systems that focus on client management such as Plum\'s latest offering, says Frank Eve

Mortgage brokers are increasingly being targeted by IT companies that in the past focussed their marketing on the IFA market. This is partly due to regulation blurring the division between mortgage broking and IFA activities but also a result of brokers needing to focus on customer retention and client management. With mortgage volumes set to stabilise, it is becoming important for brokers to have client management systems in place so they can retain and service their clients over the longer term. This is something IFAs have always concentrated on.

Plum Software has serviced the IFA market with client management software since 1993. In the past few years it has been developing systems to offer mortgage intermediaries a suite of services for front and back office solutions, and has just released the first stage of its new-look software for IFAs and brokers.

It has a more comfortable look and feel, using screens as seen in the latest Windows/Outlook software, and allows users to design their own layout including colour, font, size and position of boxes. Pop-out menus can be lodged to one side to give users more space on the screen. The software allows users to view several clients at once with all the related items for the clients on single screens, and there are hint panels which give guidance to irregular or new users, helping them with tasks.

The diary is the focus of all dates and documents in the software. It allows proper indexing of events and documents. There is a new diary layout based on Outlook with many options including the ability to view global as well as individual diaries. Urgent items and completed items are displayed in Outlook.

No additional software is required to store documents directly from the scanner into the Plum diary. Scanned documents are included as part of the contact diary that stores all correspondence, reports, voice recordings, faxes and emails. Items can be properly indexed for multiple searches for easy retrieval. The link to Word allows any documents to be stored directly into the diary. Similarly, one or more emails can be stored directly from Outlook into the diary.

Plum has also introduced a quick launch section of the software that can be loaded on starting up the computer. This avoids the need to load the full software and allows diary entries from Outlook, the scanner and Word to be created.

The tracking modules are linked to the diary and ‘to do’ lists. These allow several concurrent tracks with multi-events linked to previous track items. Track events can be added or removed and letters can be linked and generated from track events. There will be links to Webline for protection quotes, The Exchange for life quotes and The Mortgage Portal for mortgage information, as well as Mortgage Brain and Trigold.

Brokers need this integrated functionality to be able to service their clients efficiently. It is becoming important to keep and review clients on an ongoing basis. And it is systems such as Plum that are helping brokers cut costs and retain customers.