Originally published on Mortgage solutions on 16th March 2020

The distinction between needs and wants has been blurred in a fog of technology hype in the mortgage market.

Many providers do not really help themselves when they claim their technology is ‘disruptive’ when it’s simply new.

That’s the challenge for brokers. Anything that is cool but doesn’t gain or retain clients can be in your home, but not in your workplace.

Technology to gain new clients

A good example of technology that may not be the be all and end all for brokers is the perceived benefit of APIs and direct lender submissions.

These are great but not as important or as immediate a need for brokers as finding business tools that help gain new customers, add value and generate revenue.

One crucial thing to remember is that a broker’s technology needs to keep pace with client expectations but not overwhelm them.

Entrepreneurial intermediaries are blending different activities to generate new business, upselling protection and keeping clients engaged post-advice to increase retention.

Technology providers need to think in the same way and provide brokers with the tools to make the customer journey easier and more engaging.

Threats to broker market share emphasise the need to stay ahead of the game.

So, we need to focus on what will help brokers right now and that means focusing on where technology can assist the advice process and crucially either gain or retain clients.

Do I believe that APIs will generate efficiency if they deliver what is promised? Of course I do, and I applaud those progressing this technology, but if I’m a broker sat in my office needing more clients I wouldn’t give a jot.

Remove client roadblocks

I make no apology for having a single-minded focus on using technology to help existing and new clients actually engage with their broker.

Simply put, clients expect and deserve a frictionless engagement when trying to buy a product or service.

What’s more, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has expressed desire for greater customer interaction prior to any advice.

Therefore, it is incumbent on brokers to remove any and all roadblocks to this and instead reward potential clients’ engagement and effort.

What does this mean in real terms?

Well, let’s start by going beyond the web enquiry form and seamlessly enabling the client to start a digital journey so they are invested into the process.

We need to identify how business is actually being introduced and ensure this is efficient and keeps to the principals of visibility, transparency and communication.

When it comes down to it competing online should no longer be the provision of heavily invested disruptors, it has to be about those that are making things better, more efficient and engaging.

There’s an old saying that fits here I think – ‘Just because you can doesn’t mean you should’.

So please, always assess and evaluate every cool new technology in the same way; if it doesn’t generate, gain or retain clients it has no place in your business.