Developments in internet technology, online mortgage product availability, and TCF requirements mean intermediary businesses must in future pay greater attention to how they handle leads.
Speaking ahead of the re-launch of the MoneyQuest website in early November, Steve Pollard, chief executive of MoneyQuest, says it is overwhelmingly the case mortgage brokers and other intermediaries still do not think enough about the type of market they want to target.
This is reflected in the way leads are handled, with few companies in a position to generate value out of leads not suited to their business models.
Instead, many are stuck accepting unsuitable leads, without the policies or tools in place to push the lead on to a third-party business for which that lead would be more suited, he suggests.
Implementation of the FSA's 'treating customers fairly' initiative will add to the pressure on industry to take a closer look at the business value associated with handling leads in a better way.
“Leads services are going to become more important for mortgage brokers,” Pollard says.
Such services would include filtering, sorting, and if necessary diverting leads on the basis of profitability and/or other factors. Leads distribution websites are likely to gain in importance, but the spectre of TCF will mean such services cannot just distribute on price, but also on the basis businesses are aware leads are being forwarded to third parties on a ‘fair’ basis.
Brokers' own websites must reflect this new demand, and be able to juggle leads beyond just accepting or rejecting them.
“There is an argument that across the board there’s not one [mortgage broker] website that shouldn’t have that ability,” Pollard says.
He gives the example of a Liverpool-based broker predominantly focused on face-to-face business receiving an inquiry via the company website from a Scotland-based lead.
The question facing the broker, and indeed the industry, in such a case is why that Liverpool-based intermediary, against a benefit to his own business, cannot shift the lead to a third-party which is not only more used to online inquiries, but also located closer to the lead in Scotland.
Currently, Pollard says, it is a lose-lose-lose situation: the Liverpool-based broker faces the stark choice of simply rejecting the potential customer, or accepting a lead - which does not make business sense - while the potential customer, who is not averse to doing business online, is actually in contact with a business that predominantly deals offline. Meanwhile, a business based on an online model which may better suit this particular lead misses out altogether.
Pollard believes leads services will therefore become a massive market in which “people monetise the value of leads”.
It may take some time for the bulk of those in the industry to adapt to such new ways of viewing leads but, over time, it will help brokers deal with a situation parallel to “catching big fish, but throwing them back in the sea,” Pollard suggests.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Jonathan Boyd on 020 7484 9769 or email [email protected].IFAonline
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