How brokers can stay ahead as banks gain ground

Recent figures show a decline in sentiment towards brokers. How can you avoid letting your business slide?

How brokers can stay ahead as banks gain ground

Mortgage broker market share is growing – however, recent figures released by Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) are a wake-up call for brokers not to sleep on their client relationships.

MPC’s 2024 Bond Consumer survey showed that while broker market share continues to rise, consumer sentiment for brokers is on the decline. More concerningly, banks are gaining ground as their push towards digitization begins to really pay off.

According to Dong Lee, CEO at Axiom Innovations, the mortgage industry has experienced a tumultuous period with inflation and high interest rates, and so dropping consumer sentiment isn’t a huge surprise. Still, he notes that with sentiment towards brokers dipping, now is the time to get proactive and creative about drumming up business.

Embracing technology and digitization is a huge part of this, as traditionally slow-moving banks have caught on and made some significant enhancements over the last few years. For brokers, the key will be not to get left behind.

“I think the pandemic opened the eyes of the banks to the fact that they need to take it digital very fast,” Lee tells CMP.

“For example, banks have done a really good job of making the renewal process ‘in your face’ through a mobile app. When you log into your app for everyday transactions and balances, you’ll have a reminder that your mortgage is coming up for renewal and you’re four steps away from renewing your mortgage.

“Banks have created this really amazing engagement with the customer, and I think as brokers, we started to get a little complacent because our business was so good for so long.”

Lee notes that when it comes to client engagement, it’s often about remembering the little things. This can be as simple as checking in with a client you haven’t spoken to in a while, or setting up automated emails to stay in touch periodically. And ultimately, clients talk – so if they don’t need any assistance themselves, they might still be a valuable referral source.

“In Canada, our dinner party conversation is either about hockey or housing,” Lee says.

“We always talk about being front and center of people’s minds, and when they need you may very well be when your check-in email pops up, and you’ll become relevant again.”

“All we're doing is reminding brokers that there are tools and systems available to make your life easier,” he adds. “You don’t have to recreate the business – you just need to get engaged and do the little things to make it go.”

With banks quickly becoming very tech-savvy, Lee says that the way brokers use technology will either make or break their ability to compete.

He notes that ultimately, customers still want to use brokers for the personal touch that they offer – however, the home buying process is slow and often clunky. The ability to make it as seamless as possible will become a huge differentiator and will allow brokers to focus on doing what they do best – forming strong relationships.

“Brokers are entrepreneurial and savvy by nature, and they’re hungry to do great work,” Lee says. “To me, it's all about putting these tools in front of customers while layering in the ability to have conversations, and to allow people to feel comfortable that they're making the right choice.

“You need to strike the right balance between human interaction and technology, and that can vary from client to client. That’s what makes a broker special – it’s not just one process for all.”

For brokers unsure of where to start, Lee highlights that a large suite of tools is readily available in the market. Axiom Innovations’ Scarlett brand already combines lead generation, document collection, client experience tools and a pipeline management solution under one roof – in essence, a ‘broker in a box.’

Scarlett also champions the multi-channel approach, and that gives brokers the ability to communicate with clients via emails, text messages or client portals.

“I often say - we promise consumers the dream of homeownership, but we give them nothing but friction throughout the process,” Lee concludes.

“It’s a very archaic process, but if you can find a way to make that process more seamless, then that’s where your value is.”