With only 30 to 35% of mortgage brokers continuing in business after their first year, the industry can be a tough one. In more recent times, lenders have also added to the challenges with a number of additional hoops to jump through as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it’s also been somewhat of a boom period for many in the mortgage broking industry. Clients owning successful businesses have needed to purchase assets or upsize their space, while individuals have looked to invest in real estate. Others have uprooted their lives and moved from cities to regional areas. And on the flipside, those clients who have not fared so well during the pandemic downsized their homes to reduce their mortgages or sold off business assets and moved their money elsewhere.
So in a challenging business during uncertain times, what are good mortgage brokers doing right and what are the key factors in successful mortgage broking?
Be a problem solver
If you’re in the mortgage brokerage industry, chances are that you’re a natural problem solver and enjoy the challenge of finding solutions to suit your clients’ needs. That’s a great starting point but it’s something you’ll need to continually build on throughout your career and especially in times of financial upheaval such as these.
Problem solving always begins with actively listening to your client to find out what drives them, what their short and long term goals are and what keeps them awake at night. It might also mean reading between the lines to find out about the issues they're not telling you and asking probing questions that will draw them out. After all, you can only solve a problem if you have all the relevant details. Whether it’s failed businesses or failed marriages, the financial impact of past actions can be long felt and many of your clients will be reluctant to reveal them unless they feel they can trust you. Take time to build rapport without pushing too hard, too fast. It’s a fine balance between building a relationship and being professional and efficient.
Once you have all the facts, leverage your brokerage network (and other professionals in your network) to find the right products and financial services to suit their needs. And no matter how ‘off the shelf’ a loan product or mortgage might be, it’s about personalising it to solve your client’s problem and presenting it in such a way that it explains exactly why it would suit them. Also ensure that you have more than one option to present to them. Even if you know which one is best, clients will feel more comfortable knowing that you really have explored all options.
And don’t rush your client, give them time to read over your options, otherwise they’re likely to go to your competitor - with your proposal in hand, what’s more! You’ll also need to know how to handle any questions or objections they have - understand their point of view and work through the likely outcomes for them. How you handle their objections will build trust.
Know your numbers
Successful businesses don’t just happen, and mortgage broking is no different. Know your numbers and know how to measure the types of activities you undertake that lead to successful settlements. What’s your conversion rate of leads to settlements? How many leads do you need to achieve a worthwhile profit for the business, and a salary for yourself? And how many hours of work goes into each settlement - which ones are the time-consuming clients that need hand-holding and reassurance, and which are the ones that make decisions quickly?
As time goes on in your business, you’ll slowly build an accurate picture of what a potential client looks like and how much work and time it will take to get them across the line. And you’ll also get to recognise the tyre-kickers and time-wasters. Be sure to understand the value of your time and know when to cut your losses with a lead that’s not likely to convert.
In the mortgage broking industry, you’ll need to be resilient - not every lead will result in a settlement so it really is a numbers game where quantity and quality of leads is vital.
Be the expert
Knowledge is key in the mortgage broking space so take advantage of any network/franchisee training opportunities that come your way as well as industry conferences or broader financial services information sessions.
You also need to have a strong grasp of current market trends and how these are likely to impact your clients, or potential clients. Whether you’re in a discovery meeting with a new client or communicating to a database of current customers, translating market information into updates that are specific to your customers will give you a winning edge. It also allows you to easily answer your customers’ questions and provide the knowledge they need to make decisions. Furthermore, passing on important information creates the perfect opportunity for you to contact past leads or clients. This ensures you not only remain front of mind but also positions you as an industry authority.
Mortgage brokers have navigated many periods of upheaval as a result of not just the market but also regulatory and legal changes. Those that have continued to thrive, are the ones that are willing to keep learning and constantly adding to their knowledge and skills.
Every stage of the loan process from discovery meeting through to settlement requires exceptional communication - you are, after all, dealing with one of the most important decisions your client is likely to make in their lifetime.
Much of this communication comes down to timelines and milestones. You need to set expectations early regarding when things will happen and how long each step will take. Whether it’s response times or approvals, break down the application and settlement process for your clients and ensure they understand that the regulatory and legal requirements all take time. Also be clear about what your clients need to deliver on and when - such as completing application forms or providing financial documents. Never skip over details - be clear and concise so there’s no confusion down the track about any aspect of the product they’re signing up to, or the process to get there.
Then you need to make sure you meet those expectations and keep in touch throughout the process. It doesn’t necessarily need to be you, personally; your support team can handle much of the day-to-day communication and you can just step in if things are delayed or at important junctures in the process.
And your communication shouldn’t just end at the settlement stage. Contact them on the anniversary of their loan, as well as one other time during the year to ensure nothing has changed in their circumstances. This will create new business opportunities as well as ensure that you’re front of mind if anything does change. Not all communication needs to be personal - a general email newsletter can also be helpful to provide important market updates.
Asking for referrals and testimonials should also form an important part of your communication cycle - it creates leads and provides content to build your digital presence.
Create a presence
Many mortgage brokers rely on their own personal brand to market their business and with good reason. Potential clients want to know exactly who they’re putting their trust in - who can they trust with such an important life decision? Therefore, it’s vital that you have a presence out in your local community and online.
Branding of vehicles and shopfronts is the frontline of mortgage broker branding. And don’t dismiss the idea of other outdoor signage as relevant.
If you’re in the residential home loan market, then local families need to know who you are - consider getting involved in local charities and sporting teams. From sponsorships through to direct involvement, you’ll meet a huge range of potential clients and they’ll have the opportunity to get to know and trust you. Also consider joining community Facebook groups - while it’s not always best to recommend your own services, hopefully your growing client base will, and you’ll be able to engage with those recommendations.
Speaking of which, your own business Facebook page is also an ideal place to provide market updates, celebrate clients getting keys to their new homes and share your experiences in the local community. Potential clients will use the page to get a feel for whether you’re trustworthy. And don’t forget to ask clients to provide reviews on your page.
Your presence on Google is an even more important marketing strategy. Set up a Google My Business page and ensure you complete every section and provide regular updates. The more active you are, the higher you’ll rank in Google searches. And once again, reviews will also have a huge impact, so don’t be shy in asking your clients to write a review and provide them with a link that goes directly to your page.
Of course, a website is also a vital tool in your business strategy and it pays to engage with a professional who will optimise your site for search. Regularly updating information on your website through blog articles is also another clever search optimisation strategy.
If your mortgage broking speciality is in commercial and business loans, networking events can be a helpful way to introduce yourself to businesses. Good old fashioned door-knocking can also yield results if you’re not too salesy about it and be sure to follow up with personal emails as well as email newsletters to position yourself as an expert in the industry.
Build a support team
Just as you’re starting to get overwhelmed with everything you ‘should’ be doing, we’re here to tell you that you’re not expected to go it alone. Probably the most important key to mortgage broking success is to build a strong support team, backed by robust internal systems.
You’re the face of the business, so your job is to focus on what you do best - meeting clients, answering their questions and generally turning leads into loans. Behind the scenes, support roles can include customer relationship management (CRM), lead generation, digital marketing and social media management and most importantly loan processing. All of these roles are very process oriented and require a disciplined, systematic approach which will ensure that you, the lender and your client know exactly where you are in the loan process.
Your support team can maintain communications with your clients to collect documents and complete applications. And in this age of regulation, your paperwork will always be up to date and ready to meet any compliance requirements or audits.
Because of the nature of the work, your support staff can actually be located anywhere in the world. And for this reason, many mortgage brokers are outsourcing loan processing to offshore locations where they can also benefit from huge employment savings. Offshore outsourcing offers the added benefit of allowing you to scale up and down according to the demands of your mortgage brokerage.
Success in mortgage broking comes from building a presence in your marketplace with a focus on establishing yourself as a trustworthy industry expert. Building trust with your clients and potential clients takes time and focus but you’ll ultimately be rewarded with their business. Just ensure that your internal loan processing procedures and communications are managed in such a way that you, the client and the lender are on track to deliver the timely, efficient and professional services you’ve promised, and you’ll be set for success.
To learn more about outsourcing in the mortgage broking industry, download our case study and find out how one broker was able to add 48% to their bottom line.