Introducer relationships that actually work are the financial services equivalent of the promised land – we’re all walking down the path to try and find them but only a few tend to lead to this fertile environment where all can reap the benefits.
This is why advisers who end up at this place tend to want to defend it with everything at their disposal. Those who threaten this territory will tend to be met with the professional version of a heartily shouted, ‘Get off my land’.
We talk a lot in the advisory space about what advisers should be doing to generate these potentially lucrative relationships – who should you be dealing with, how can you find them, and how do you go about making it work? In the mortgage adviser community, there tends to be a healthy lack of trust between intermediaries and estate agents, however we all know that far fewer agents now have in-house advisers at their disposal and therefore it makes sense to try and forge relationships with independent agents.
That said, historical precedents tell us that it is not always the most harmonious of ‘get togethers’. Let’s start at the beginning; for any advisers looking to secure these agency introductions, the typical pitch tends to involve outlining how the agent will gain more control over the client if they use you. This means you will be provided with the details of the client, you will then vet applicants to ensure they are able to proceed and will inform the agent of this and the overall progress of the mortgage application. The point here is that the house sale can then move far more quickly because of this and, let’s not forget, the estate agent will receive an income as a result of these introductions.
What’s not to like here? Indeed, why haven’t you Mr/Mrs Agent been working with us all along? This is the theory and, yes, it does appear to be a good idea. Typically, the agent/adviser relationship gets off to a good start however so often the cracks begin to appear quite soon after.T
There are many reasons why: perhaps the hand-off of the leads is completely inefficient, and perhaps it is also not Data Protection Act-compliant in that the client details are perhaps e-mailed or faxed to the adviser in an insecure way. Perhaps the mortgage adviser begins ‘cherry picking’ the ‘best leads’ leaving many agency clients unchecked or perhaps the adviser simply does not contact the lead itself in a timely manner. Perhaps there is a lack of communication meaning the agent doesn’t know what’s going on and therefore they are not in control when their client asks them for a progress update. Perhaps, ultimately the agent is not even aware if the case has completed or if income is due to them, resulting in suspicion creeping in. We’ve seen this process play itself out many times and it always results in the breakdown of that particular introducer relationship.
So, how can we ensure that this is not the end-result? After all, up until this point it could well be that the arrangement is lucrative for everyone concerned. The answer, I suspect, lies in the use of technology because all of the potential problems highlighted above can be overcome by using a transparent and effective system which means neither party is ever in any doubt about the status of a lead, or the next step to be taken in the process.
Our own system, Revolution, has been designed to deal with all these problems in that the agent can log leads directly onto the system which appear immediately on the adviser’s home page; the client data is transmitted in a secure fashion so no compliance worries there and once the agent is logged in they are able to track the progress of any lead from application to completion. This transparency and access to up-to-date information means they can see exactly what has been sold and therefore know what income is due to them. Finally, they never have to make any chase-up calls to the adviser and wait for them to respond because everything is visible on the system.
Having a system that works between the two parties takes the entire, dare I say it, ‘nonsense’ out of the relationship. No side is able to sit there stewing about perceived slights or lack of communication because logging in to the system will give everyone an immediate understanding of just what point of the process their client is at. It sounds simple – and it is – but it’s also effective and, as far as advisers are concerned, it can work for multiple introducer relationships meaning multiple income streams. Quality introducer relationships are so vitally important in today’s marketplace that it makes sense to use the technology available to ensure they continue to work effectively. In doing this, you will be going a long way to protecting the relationship and your turf.