Leading questions in a time of crisis

Lead generation companies are in the spotlight as an increasing number of desperate consumers seek advice but brokers should use them with caution, says Sally Laker

In the current challenging mortgage market, brokers are finding it tough to place cases that would previously have been sorted in the blink of an eye. This is evident at our broker support desk, where the number of calls from brokers having problems has doubled recently.

And if brokers are finding it hard to keep up with almost daily product and criteria changes by lenders it must be even harder for borrowers, so demand for ad-vice is bound to increase.

So lead generation companies are in the spotlight as they are receiving many enquiries about advice.

This raises the question of whether the quality of leads provided by third parties is as high at times of high demand as it is when leads are scarce.

At the moment, leads are likely to be cries for help from consum-ers who can’t find the deals they need. Such leads should represent a golden opportunity for brokers. These customers are likely to value the services of brokers far more now than when they can find the deals they want on their own without too much trouble.

The result should be happy and loyal customers for life, which means a great opportunity for brokers to sell additional products in the years to come.

But this raises another issue – the chances are that brokers will find some leads hard to place because choice has been severely curtailed by lenders pulling products or withdrawing from certain markets.

So it’s important that brokers are selective about the leads they take from third parties. For example, they may wish to avoid certain types of sub-prime customers.

The danger is that the rising tide of demand for advice could be mainly from consumers in the worst hit sectors of the market and these will be the hardest deals to place.

Brokers should also be aware that in these desperate times, customers may be inclined to visit more than one leads website looking for help, raising questions about duplication.

Lead generators have a valuable role to play but the secret for brokers is to stay focussed when it comes to the type of leads they accept and to work with reputable suppliers. One way to cut the risk is to ensure that the firms they choose give brokers their money back if leads prove to be invalid.