Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a moment. They’ve committed their time and energy to an adviser about their specific mortgage requirements. They’ve gone away happy with the right mortgage, only to return at remortgage time to find that their trusted adviser has moved on. No one thought to tell them, no one thought to get in touch offering a new point of contact.
No one likes feeling abandoned.
This client is now faced with a choice: stay and build a relationship with a new adviser – or vote with their feet and move on.
This scenario is borne out in firms up and down the country, particularly larger organisations, where adviser turnover is greater. Time and time again existing clients are left orphaned when their original contact leaves. Firms and advisers are choosing to chase after new leads rather than retaining existing customers.
How are orphan clients created?
The issue comes down to a lack of direct relationship between brokerage and client. Far too many brokerages place the responsibility for maintaining client relationships firmly at the feet of individual advisers – and (literally) pay the price in lost revenue when that advisor moves on to pastures new. This is avoidable, but too few brokerages take the necessary action to keep hold of their orphan clients.
It might be that your company has been busy and as a result, too little is done too late or in some cases, nothing is done at all. Your new clients being your focus might seem to make sense. But the numbers just don’t stack up. We’ve talked at length about why retention should be on your radar, in other blogs here and here.
How to keep hold of orphaned clients
If you’re coming around to the idea that keeping hold of existing clients is just as important as scouting for new, then we can help. The good news is that with some small adjustments to your business processes, you can make a significant impact on your client relationships.
In short, we’re talking about communication and relationships. Let’s be clear though – we understand that no adviser will call hundreds of orphaned clients. It’s not realistic or feasible. Instead, we can utilise technology to maintain and enhance your client relationships.
Firstly, to minimise the chances of losing an orphaned client, your business should be focused on retaining them as soon as the adviser leaves. Instead of waiting until they are due to roll off and transact again, you need to be proactive. Contact the client immediately and introduce them to their new adviser. Make sure this new advisor has access to the client’s information to ensure a smooth transition.
However, contacting the client out of the blue is not the best client experience. To engender loyalty and increase your chances of retaining the client, your business should be in regular contact – providing relevant and informative content that constantly demonstrates your expertise and value. By doing so, you become synonymous with their mortgage and home.
The take-away here is connection through consistent communication. Building bridges that stay in place throughout the life of that client’s mortgage term.
Make it personal
Why? Because recognising that each client is an individual with their own interests and preferences is key to making sure they read and value your communication.
The days of mass distribution of generic content is over. Whilst these practices still exist, the reality is that such content has low engagement and even if a client does engage with your email, you don’t know what they found interesting.
The good news is that the technology now exists to create hyper-personalised, relevant content that caters for your clients’ specific needs. We can now understand client behaviour and gain significant insights into clients as individuals – and your book as a whole.
Tools such as Retain by Eligible.ai can make these insights accessible to you whilst automating the communication process – so you gain all the benefits without the significant effort this would have taken in the past.
Clients past, present and future
Maintaining an active relationship with existing clients isn’t just good practice, it’s essential. It’s time to revamp your old client communication processes – or automate them using Retain by Eligible.ai to have it all effortlessly managed for you. You already know how fierce the competition is out there and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier any time soon. It’s time to scoop those orphaned clients back up and bring them back into the fold.
They’ve been drifting for far too long.
Every business needs clients. That’s a given. After all, without them, there would be no business. But while securing new clients is obviously important, should you do so at the expense of your existing clients?
- Acquiring new clients costs up to five times more than retaining existing ones
- An increase of just 5% in client retention can increase profits by up to 95%
- The success rate of selling to a client you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new client is 5-20%
So rather than chasing down new clients, you can often actually realise a better return on your investment (in terms of both time and money) by nurturing the client relationships you already have in place.
Repeat business is easier and faster, plus there’s a greater chance of completing i.e. you’re more likely to get paid. That’s why building a client bank and focussing on retention is so important.
While some brokers spend a lot of time thinking about/working on retention, others spend very little. Why is that – and which brokers have got it right?
Brokers who only focus on new clients
Maybe you’re a broker who’s always got plenty of new leads (lucky you) and as a result, you focus your time on closing new deals. Inevitably that means you spend less time focussed on retention.
It’s easy to understand why new leads feel more urgent than existing clients. It’s exciting closing new deals and helping new people, plus losing some of your past clients doesn’t seem like such an urgent problem.
But you’re exposed to the market at all times. If there was ever a downturn in new business, do you think your past clients (who you’ve neglected) would welcome you back with open arms? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to turn on the existing client tap when it’s been left to rust while you focussed on other things.
Maybe you’ve got an okay retention rate simply because some of your past clients are proactive in reaching out to you. When you do work with an existing client, how easy are those deals to close? Pretty straightforward, right? So, these remortgages are more certain and take less of your time.
Brokers who focus on new clients AND retaining old clients
If you’re a broker who spends a lot of time thinking about retention and actively working on it (great job, by the way), you’ll (hopefully) know how lucrative it can be – especially when you do so alongside securing new clients too.
But developing your business this way almost certainly consumes a huge chunk of your time – what with managing your diary and keeping in contact with your clients on a regular basis, as well as going out and looking for new leads.
We’re betting that you’ve not got much left in the tank (in terms of time and energy) at the end of each day.
If this is you, keep reading…
How to retain existing clients (and keep your sanity)
The key to retaining existing clients is to keep in contact with them on a regular basis. As we outlined in our last article, staying in touch with your clients ensures you’re always front of the mind when they are looking to remortgage.
But while newsletters and Christmas cards can play an important role in this, nothing beats personalised content, tailored to your client’s situation.
Of course, this takes time – It sometimes may even feel like time wasted because you don’t see an immediate return on your investment. But the idea is that time invested today will pay dividends down the line when your clients start thinking about remortgaging.
The great news is that brokers can actually spend zero time thinking about retention but still up their retention game in the process. Sound too good to be true?
The answer could lie in automated retention software, like Eligible.ai, which removes all the manual processes typically associated with retention.
With automated retention software, you can take advantage of personalised and relevant communication capabilities that will be much better received by your clients (boosting your retention levels in the process).
If you’re a broker who spends a lot of time thinking about/working on retention, automated retention software will continue to nurture the relationship you have with your client to the level you (and they) have come to expect, but without the extra time investment it currently requires. This not only keeps your existing clients interested, but also allows you to focus on opportunities to grow your business in other ways.
Ponder this: if you have a 40% churn on your existing client bank, and are simply replacing that 40% with new clients, you are never actually growing your overall client base/bank. Now imagine if you could reduce that 40% churn and still attract plenty of new business.
By taking advantage of automated retention software, like Eligible.ai, you can steadily grow your overall business, without spending loads of time focussing on retention. This will not only help you during downturns and safeguard your business going forward, but also improve your overall conversion rates. Existing clients looking to remortgage are more likely to complete than a new client who’s looking to purchase.
Why not request an Eligible.ai demo now. You’ve got nothing to lose, but potentially lots to gain (and so have your clients).
Let’s get straight to the point – there’s a good chance that by 2020, you will see a significant drop in the number of potential remortgage customers you’re speaking to.
A bold statement, I know. So – what’s this based on?
One of the main drivers is that consumers are shifting from 2 year to 5+ year fixed rate mortgage deals at a rapid rate.
nearly half of all the fixed-rate lending so far this year has been for five years or more, compared to less than 30 per cent two years ago when the clear preference was still the two-year fix.
More consumers on 5 years deals means fewer clients looking to remortgage and less often.
Let that sink in a little.
What’s going on?
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a reduction in the gap between two year and five year rates. Statistics from the Bank of England’s Global Property Guide show that in March 2019 the average difference between five year and two year rates was just 0.36% (2.04% vs 1.68%) as opposed to a difference of 1.15% (3.61% vs 2.46%) in September 2014.
Add Brexit uncertainty to the mix and the stability and cost of a 5 year deal starts looking very attractive.
The added need for stability has seen an increase in fixed rate mortgage deals of 5 years.
Graham Seller, head of business development at Santander Mortgages said last year that:
We’re now seeing over half our business coming in on five-year fixes…It could be down to Brexit, interest rates, uncertainty in general, or the fact that five-year rates look attractive against shorter-term fixes.
So, What’s the Deal with Brexit?
Brexit is being blamed for almost everything at the moment. A fall in remortgages is no different. As the Brexit process drags on, mortgage customers are looking for a little bit of certainty in their lives – at least when it comes to their mortgage payments.
In short, as James Pickford of the Financial Times points out in his September 2018 article:
Amid an opaque outlook for Britain’s post-Brexit economy and rising Bank of England base rates, the historic dominance of two-year fixed rates has been challenged as borrowers opt for the certainty of longer-term products in spite of higher expenses.
It was good while it lasted
Over the last few years, life has been pretty sweet for brokers who spent time on remortgages. The majority of existing clients have been on 2 year products – with a view to remortgaging every 2 years. Unfortunately, it looks like the days of reliable, frequent remortgage income is about to end.
A reducing stream of remortgage clients means that – as an industry – we have to explore other avenues of income.
You’re probably pretty familiar with how to get new leads. Typically you start to look for more introducers or expand your social media presence.
But are you sure you’re making every effort to extract the maximum value out of your existing client bank?
It’s likely that you are in regular contact with some clients, such as portfolio landlords. But many of your clients may not hear from you for the best part of five years.
As each year passes – and your last meaningful contact is further away – the chance of a client returning decreases. You need to create more opportunities to add value to your clients between remortgages. To make sure you remain your client’s go-to Adviser, you have to stay in touch.
Regular contact also opens up new and unique ways to cross-sell your clients onto other products. Being up-to-date provides opportunities to provide the service that your clients expect.
Tools such as Retain by Eligible allow you to maintain contact. Retain engages and nurtures your clients automatically. Using personalised messaging, financial and customer analytics, Retain provides an individual experience for each of your clients. Making sure you’re looking out for your clients, all the time.
Based on current data around new mortgages, it’s looking like remortgage business is going to drop from next year onwards (or at least be delayed until 2024). We’ve given you some tips in the article above on how to start preparing, but, in the meantime, make sure you’re making the most of your current remortgage opportunities. Check out our recent post on improving your retention here or get in touch with us to find out how Retain can help increase your client retention by up to 50%.
If you aren’t focussing on retention, you’re probably leaving money on the table (and losing customers you can’t get back in the process).
Don’t just take our word for it though.
Research conducted by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) shows that in the financial services industry, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% produces more than a 25% increase in profits.
No wonder so many other industry experts are focussing heavily on the importance of retention right now.
“The retention market has overtaken the acquisition market.” Those are the words of Esther Dijkstra, director of strategic partnership at Lloyds Banking Group, speaking at the FSE London Expert Panel in September 2018.
It’s a view that Ian Andrews, managing director at Nationwide Building Society, also shared at that event. “In 12 months’ time, retention will be the dominant channel,”.
Furthermore, with the number of purchase customers anticipated to decline this year, competition to retain customers is only going to get fiercer.
There are Benefits to retaining mortgage clients
Now, before we get into the meat of this post, we wanted to briefly touch on some of the benefits of retaining mortgage clients:
- Past clients are easier to sell to because you already have an established relationship
- They also tend to spend more than new customers (refinance, second home, etc.)
- New customers cost more to acquire.
- Repeat clients naturally promote your business (referrals are still the best and highest converting source of leads).
- Repeat clients are also more open to your marketing efforts & more forgiving of errors.
- Client retention helps grow businesses (repeat customers are more likely to explore your services further i.e. they’ll buy more stuff from you)
So now you know why you should want to retain more clients, here are a few of the best ways of doing just that:
1. Stay in touch
By staying in touch with your past clients on a frequent basis, you ensure you are always at the front of their mind. So, when they do have a need i.e. they are in the market for a mortgage, you are (hopefully) the first person they turn to.
It’s no good contacting a past client out of the blue just before they need advice. It will come across as contrived and insincere. In fact, it’s likely they’ll think you only get in touch when you want something, and nobody likes to feel that way.
Stay updated and stay in the minds of your clients (in a professional, non-pushy way, of course). Don’t be one of those advisers who doesn’t even know his client is mortgage shopping. Remain ahead of the curve and you’ll nurture stronger relationships, which will ultimately lead to more repeat business.
You don’t need to sweat for hours over what you’re going to say, either. Something as simple as a birthday or Christmas card is a great way to keep in touch on two occasions throughout the year. It won’t cost the earth, yet will go a long way in your clients’ eyes.
In addition, you may want to create a monthly or quarterly newsletter. It can be as simple as sending your clients links to articles on issues that could impact them. You’ll stay in their minds and be seen as a person who adds value – two things that will stand you in good stead when they remortgage.
Whatever you decide to do, remember, nothing beats high-quality, personalised content i.e. content that relates to the customer’s mortgage. This is an important factor and one that we’ll talk more about later in this post.
2. Add value and educate
Position yourself as a market expert
As we touched on in the previous point, it’s much better to position yourself as a market expert rather than a salesperson. That’s because market experts are held in high regard by their clients and are not viewed as people who only get in touch when they’ve got something to sell. As a result, market experts enjoy better relationships with their clients.
Look to educate your clients at every given opportunity. Whether it’s about changes in the marketplace or ways in which they could save money. By anticipating your clients’ questions, you’ll solidify yourself as their go-to adviser.
For example, highlight how much easier the remortgage process is compared to securing a mortgage when you first buy a property (there’s fewer steps, less paperwork and often the costs are lower etc). There’s a good chance your clients simply don’t know this and will appreciate your input.
Anticipate consumer anxieties
Because consumer mortgage journeys are non-linear, there’s always an opportunity to add value.
Major life events, such as births, deaths, marriages, a new job, etc., impact your clients’ lives. However, they also potentially impact their home/mortgage situations too.
At a time when your clients are likely already feeling anxious, you can stand out as someone they can talk to when life events occur.
Again, why not have pre-prepared documentation to cover such eventualities? It will allow you to serve your clients better and add real value (both of which improve retention).
Many consumers feel intimidated when they encounter mortgage jargon. It’s something they are unfamiliar with. That’s where you come in.
Be available to help your clients decipher documents that are full of jargon. When you send out your own comms, put information into easily digestible formats, allowing your clients to make fully informed decisions.
If you want to take this one step further and really wow your clients, consider creating your own jargon-busting guides and sending them to your clients ahead of time. This will not only portray you as an adviser who’s conscientious but also give you a great excuse to stay in touch on a regular basis.
3. Embrace your data
Hidden away in the darkest depths of your CRM system is a treasure trove of data. Data that relates to your clients and that can provide you with extremely powerful insights into them, their behaviours, their motivations and their pain points.
By harnessing this information, you can create highly-personalised communications that engage your clients and significantly boost your chances of securing more repeat business.
But do you know how to extract and manipulate the data you hold on your clients? If not, you’re missing a big trick.
4. Take advantage of automated retention software
Automated mortgage retention software does exactly as its name suggests. As well as taking the pain out of client retention, it also ensures you are in the most favourable position when your clients need your services.
You can significantly reduce the chances of missing retention opportunities by having timely and prioritised insights delivered straight to you.
With automated mortgage retention software, you can make sure that you:
- Always be the first to contact your clients
- Maintain their interest on an ongoing basis with the right content delivered at the right time
- Save massive amounts of time and effort, while driving positive results
Automated mortgage retention solutions, like Eligible.ai, enable you to focus less on data mining (in fact, you won’t need to do any at all) and more on nurturing your client relationships and helping them find the perfect mortgage deal.
As we mentioned at the very start of this post, mortgage retention is only going to go from strength to strength over the next 12 months (and probably long into the future).
So, don’t forget to:
- Stay in touch with your mortgage clients on a semi-regular basis
- Provide them with real value – even when they are not in the market for a mortgage product
- Boost engagement with your clients by harnessing big data insights to create personalised, timely communications
- Take advantage of automated retention software, like Eligible.ai
If you don’t show your past clients some love, there’s a good chance they’ll look for it elsewhere.
Make sure to stay on top of your client retention to maximise your revenue.
“The following piece about Eligible appeared in Mortgage Introducer on 25th March 2019. Click here to view the original article.”
Over the past two years, Eligible has conducted in-depth research with clients and advisers to understand how technology can enhance the client relationship.
We realised that in a rush to speed up applications, optimise fact finds and create client portals, the retention of the end client has been neglected. A great example of this: advisers talk to their clients once every two years! As a result, the client has mostly forgotten the things they had learned from their adviser.
The client journey is broken – clients remain scared by jargon and lack understanding when it comes to their mortgage.
The financial services sector has created its own barriers to entry with technical language that alienates the very people we want to help. Many clients are anxious about talking to their broker because they feel out of their depth.
Improving the client experience
Our conclusion is that what the industry needs and clients want is relevance in communication. One size does not fit all and for too long, people have acted in this manner and expected results to improve. We must learn to relay complex concepts in simple, relevant and personalised ways to each individual client. The good news is that technology has become more accessible to enable firms to do this.
Our focus is on bringing the idea of nurturing client relationships to the mortgage industry. This is fundamental to creating a lifetime relationship with your clients where you are advising them for 10, 20 – even 30 years!
In our research, it was clear that improving financial literacy for the end client was important for the health and viability of a long-term client relationship. This can only be done by contacting and engaging the client with information that is relevant to them at that point in their life. Once you can communicate effectively with your client, you are best-positioned to be their trusted adviser for life.
How does technology fit into the client relationship?
It allows advisers to turn their existing customer data into personalised journeys to nurture the client relationship and lead that client back to their adviser when it is time to remortgage. We want to make sure that more phone calls and F2F meetings take place between clients and their advisers. Our experience and studies have shown such interactions lead to happier customers and more revenue, and nothing can replace them in either the eyes of the client or the adviser.
Some food for thought – replace the words “big data” with the words “big understanding.” Data allows you to understand your clients better but only if you learn to act on what it teaches us.
Hemel, ex-partner at John Charcol, has been tasked with developing B2B relationships and providing feedback on what’s important to brokers.
Hemel’s appointment shows our intention to always keep our customers at the heart of our business whilst pushing the technological envelope.
Hemel’s experience in the mortgage industry gives us vital input to create solutions that generate immediate value for the business whilst being simple and easy to use.
Hemel is here to help us bridge the gap between our technology and what brokers want.
Rameez Zafar, chief executive at Eligible
The market has been inundated with technology that focuses on ‘digitising’ the sales process but retaining the client relationship has been overlooked.
I have spent some time considering my next step and although there are numerous technology firms in the industry, there are few innovators genuinely looking to achieve the best outcome for both the broker and the client.
I look forward to working with client focused businesses that are passionate about building great client relationships.
Hemel Shah, Sales director
Want to find out more?
If you’re interested in finding out more feel free to Request a demo or get in touch.