Brokers must fight for business online

JON KING, MANAGING DIRECTOR, HODGE LIFETIME

The year-end frequently prompts commentators to draw conclusions about the past year and predict what is likely to come.

Headlines such as ’Record rise in the FTSE’ and ’Biggest fall in mortgage advances’ make instant impressions.

But history tends to take longer to leave its mark, with events that seem important at the time appearing less so with the benefit of hindsight. The crash of October 1987 is a good example.

One trend that has undoubtedly accelerated since the present credit crunch began is the way clients are researching products and financial solutions before making purchasing decisions.

A recent survey by Hannover Life Re (UK) shows that the internet is now the primary source for consumers seeking information and advice on life and health products, ahead of IFAs or banks.

This trend is also being followed in equity release, although the influence of the national press is still strong.

Our customer survey from September to November 2009 found that 25% of clients became aware of products via press articles.

This reflects the importance of positive press coverage to equity release business – something IFAs remind us of every time we do surveys on broker confidence.

As equity release products are sold via an advised sales process clients inevitably need to find brokers and the internet will be the battleground that decides which advisers win the business.