I was interested last week to note some of the vitriol which Nat West have been greeted with in response to their move to replace phone calls with Livetalk, an instant messaging service. It made me wonder if there was a wider issue of a resistance to technology from many in the mortgage broking industry.
In theory, as long as service levels are maintained, Livetalk should cut down time spent wasted holding on a phone, pressing buttons to speak to the right person and then a waffled conversation with nothing actually in writing at the end. The times I have used this, a quick to the point bullet point enquiry typed in no time has been met by a quick answer or a guide of what to do in writing, (actually to be fair one met with a simple no), but was much quicker than a call.
So is there actually a wider issue that many brokers are actually technophobic? This seems surprising in an age of the online application, but it is a complaint that I hear regularly. Although we are an industry at the cutting edge of technology with some excellent companies offering more and more complex systems, the average UK broker still seems inclined to want to deal in paper, ink and telephone.
Yes of course I get the building up a relationship argument, but it is possible to build up some great meaningful relationships in other ways.
Social Media has also been slow to catch on for the average broker. A cursory glance across the Twittersphere shows that whilst IFA’s have most certainly embraced the networking and business building aspects of social media, mortgage brokers as a whole are trailing in their wake.
LinkedIn is of course popular, as is Facebook, but as a whole there are too few mortgage blogs, too many non-interactive broker websites, too much apathy. Not from business owners themselves, but from the coalface broker.
So is this due to the fact that mortgage brokers across the country are an aging breed? Where is the new blood?
Anyone trying to recruit at the moment, especially in London, are facing the issue of the same names coming up, those who have been in the industry for a while and want to be paid as if the credit crunch never happened, or a major dearth of quality. This is one reason why we have invested time into the Governments apprentice scheme in conjunction with a local college. This is a top quality scheme that I would heartily recommend and puts faith back into the youth of today.
Finding the next top mortgage broker, or giving someone new the opportunity to test themselves in a higher position is the only way for the industry to drive forward, constantly looking for the next set of ideas rather than revisiting the old school thinking pre-credit crunch which is anachronistic in today’s’ new environment.
Of course this technophobia is not everyone and there are some excellent and exciting examples of brokers and firms embracing this change and fighting to be the first to roll out the latest technology.
In reality a healthy mix of traditional and technology is key to success and it is these companies that harness both efficiently within their processes which will be the bedrock of the future market.