The pandemic has highlighted how advisers can use technology to reach clients across the UK, but the use of video conferencing does not necessarily lead to national reach, according to some.
Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at Primis Mortgage Network, said that a “light bulb moment” for many firms in 2020 had been realising how they could use technology to change how they communicate with brokers or end customers.
She said: “For example, with the help of digital tools, it has become much easier for advice firms to contact not only existing clients, but also prospective customers who are based outside of their region or local vicinity – something which firms may not have realised before the crisis.”
Likewise David Bennet, commercial director at CRM provider eKeeper, said lockdown had accelerated the change of communication technology.
He commented: “Changes that would normally have taken a decade to flow into our day-to-day lives have happened in mere months – not under the banner of transformation, more in terms of necessity.”
But Mr Bennet added the use of video conferencing did not equate to brokers’ coverage and the market being national.
He said: “In our recent research, when it comes to marketing, ‘word of mouth’ continues to be the most enduring channel of new business, which is typically geographically centred.”
Role of technology in 2021
While the pandemic has highlighted the role of technology in reaching out to prospective clients further afield, it also plays a part in retaining existing clients, a mortgage platform has said.
Tanjir Sugar, chief executive at platform Mortgage Magic, said: “B2C financial firms from individual advisers to the largest networks, most particularly in the mortgage sector, are recognising the underlying value embedded in their client banks.
“Advisers are coming under increasing pressure from minimum advice online sources and direct lenders and as competition increases, the time when customer management could be treated as an afterthought is long past, especially if they don’t want to lose them.”
Mr Sugar added: “Choosing the right platform as individual firms or as networks could well make the difference between success and failure in an increasingly competitive market in 2021 and beyond.”
Research in August by fintech provider DPR Group found some mortgage clients are looking for an ongoing service from their broker, but 37 per cent of brokers did not have the technology to enable them to communicate regularly and easily with clients.
Meanwhile, Mark Dryden, technical director at eKeeper, predicted that efficiency would be on the technology agenda in 2021.
He said: “Ultimately if you're rekeying the same data again and again, technology in general has failed the user.
“Therefore, expect the more foundational technologies such as CRMs, mortgage network systems, etc. to continue to mature and reduce the unnecessary interactions across all the systems a broker may need to interact with.
“This is hardly earth-shattering stuff but it will be those software suppliers that have weathered the 2020 storm, and reinvested into their products, that will support the productive brokers of 2021.”