With the schools (apart from those with crumbling concrete) reopening, we all have to come to terms with the fact the summer has now drawn to a close for most people, despite this current burst of great weather trying to tell us otherwise.
Irrespective of the number of years since our own school days, September invariably evokes a sense of ‘new beginnings’. Within the mortgage and housing markets, it tends to mark a pivotal juncture, marking the drive towards the last quarter of the calendar year with its prospects for heightened activity, increased transactions, and a growth in overall consumer demand and new business.
It’s also wise to reflect right now on how the year has panned out, and what that may mean in terms of income-generating requirements over the course of the next four months and beyond. Plus, of course, how advisory practices might go about meeting those requirements.
Survey finds optimism among members
We recently surveyed Stonebridge member firms on a variety of topics, and there were many encouraging outcomes reflected in the results, most notably the positive expectations regarding the volume of business these firms anticipate generating in the forthcoming year, in contrast to the preceding one.
For obvious reasons, 2023 appears to have started in a less robust manner than last year in terms of overall activity, particularly in the purchase space. However, it is also heartening to observe that 33% of the firms expressed confidence in writing more business, with an additional 36% anticipating they’ll maintain their status quo.
That confidence and optimism from mortgage advice firms is heartening and underscores the imperative for Stonebridge and other networks to present member firms with an array of opportunities and a variety of tools that will allow them to ensure they are ‘definitely’ not writing less business than the prior year – by winning more market share despite a smaller gross lending market.
Part of that suite of support comes in the form of marketing ideas, an area where many firms excel in, but some are not as au fait with the many ways and means by which they can market their business and proposition, and how they can drive new and existing client enquiries into the firm.
In that sense it was interesting to ask member firms what marketing support they would like from Stonebridge, and it was positive to see a large number of firms believe they could benefit in all manner of areas, not least: helping their brand stand out, how to turn clients into advocates for the business, plus information and guidance on advertising/SEO/Pay per click, and how they might deliver a strong social media presence.
Technology is key
Technology plays a hugely significant role here, and within our Revolution system, we now have a super-fast digital approval and tracking system for member promotions, helping to keep everything compliant. During the summer months alone, it managed around 1,558 individual marketing promotions from our member firms. Our recent marketing webinars had a particular focus on how best to reach potential new clients across a variety of digital media, with an emphasis on how firms can keep on marketing to their existing customers through developing a robust marketing strategy.
Given mortgage advice is transactional initially, at least, there is of course a danger that firms simply allow their clients to drift off their radar once that initial advice has been given, and that simply can’t be allowed to happen, given their importance in terms of providing ongoing income but also now from a Consumer Duty point of view.
The best advice firms do a brilliant job of making sure existing clients are treated as lifelong clients, meriting regular reviews and consideration of their evolving needs and circumstances. This necessitates the ongoing presentation of relevant products and services over the course of that time, particularly between mortgage transactions. Yet some firms and advisers in the market, just don’t do this, consistently and well.
The importance of proactive marketing
Awareness of the dynamic nature of the mortgage market is vital, and maintaining regular communication with clients regarding market shifts, tailored to their individual circumstances, both present and prospective, will ensure the firm remains the preferred source of advice.
Plus, of course, we can’t underestimate the role they can play as advocates for the firm and what they can deliver in terms of recommendations and referrals, particularly when it comes to friends and family members.
In summary, it’s positive to see firms maintaining an optimistic outlook regarding their short-term prospects for securing business and to keep meeting their own needs in terms of transactions and completions.
Nevertheless, there can be no complacency when it comes to marketing and the ways and means by which firms continue to bring in business – even a short period of inactivity, can lead to those income-generating ambitions and targets not being met.
Proactive marketing – and a decent budget – as a constant focus for the business is therefore highly important. For our part, we intend to keep on providing advice and tangible support in this area to remind firm owners as well as advisers, of just how critical it is.