Alisa Wallington is senior product manager at iPipeline
Internet shopping – if you had not fully embraced it before the pandemic, you and millions of others almost certainly will have done by now.
Personally, I welcome shopping in any form. It doesn’t even have to be anything most ‘normal’ people might consider exciting, like a new outfit or new car, I just like buying things.
Sure, it was great back in the day when you could walk into whichever shop you pleased, unmasked and unsanitised, without being eyeballed by the shop assistant trying to work out whether or not you were sneaking in with the person in front or behind you.
Today, our options are largely the supermarket or the internet. Now, whilst I enjoy the rare treat of being physically present amongst some of the pretty things, the choice is often limited – even at Waitrose – and therefore online is usually where I go.
There are huge advantages to online shopping, with choice and availability probably being the most obvious. Literally everything is made available to you whenever you want it, and you can sift through, adding and removing the things you like or dislike with the help of a handy filter.
Even when you don’t know what you want – which is me, most of the time – suggestions will be made for you, and reviews will be presented to you telling you what others have bought and what their experience was.
This is all very helpful, but what if you need more than just suggestions and reviews? What if you need fact rather than opinion and an experience based on you, not just people like you?
Taking on a mortgage is a big decision which not only requires careful consideration of current circumstances, but also a longer-term view. In my opinion, this is a decision which necessitates the type of advice only a professional can provide. An online forum just won’t cut it.
Inevitably, there will always be those who go it alone. After all, everything is available online right? Even mortgages. Your friend’s husband’s dad’s dog has done it so why can’t you? Easy peasy. Providing you have the following that is: time, patience, and a bit more time.
So let’s assume you’re one of those “I’ll just have a go myself” types. You’ve set aside some time to do the research and you go ahead and type ‘mortgages’ into the search engine...and you get about 633,000,000 results – all in 0.55 seconds.
Where to start? Tracker or fixed rate? Two years, five or 10? Interest-only or repayment? Remortgage or product transfer?
This has suddenly become much more complicated than deciding between a skinny or a straight leg jean.
The vast majority of the mortgage and protection industry is intermediated, and there is good reason for this, as our industry is complex and involves a process that other people do not deal with regularly.
Most consumers do not understand the terminology we use to describe products and services, let alone knowing what might actually be right for them.
Mortgage brokers are there to guide clients through the options and ensure that they are making the right choices based on their individual needs and circumstances. Brokers have the tools, access and experience to do this.
After the mortgage application, it is time to consider the protection options. The choices are endless and acutely dependent on individual circumstances and needs. How do you know which ones are right for you and your family, or what you can afford versus what you need? It’s likely you don’t.
Part of the broker’s responsibility is to provide holistic advice, which should include protection. Yes it’s complicated, and yes it adds more time to the initial mortgage conversation, but it’s the right thing to do.
So it’s important that some brokers start with a protection conversation before the mortgage. Arranging the biggest debt of a person’s life without articulating the consequences of not protecting it could be seen as irresponsible.
Leaving such complex and life changing decisions to the client is also potentially dangerous. Some things are best left to the experts, and having nothing in place could have devastating consequences should the worst happen.
Research shows that the more products you have with an individual, the less likely they are to go elsewhere.
Your clients will be more likely to buy from you and stay with you in the long run, improving retention and nurturing that all important client-broker relationship.
With a growing number of signposting opportunities now available to refer the business, there really is very little excuse not to start the protection conversation. Do it or refer it, but don’t leave it to the customer!