Throughout the trials and tribulations of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that Canadians’ confidence in the country’s top banks has taken a hit.
The results of a survey by market research firm J.D. Power indicated last week that overall customer satisfaction among financial institutions has dropped, a development that the company said was most striking among Canada’s traditional Big Five banks.
Arguably the most interesting takeaway from the report for mortgage brokers was the view of John Cabell, J.D. Power’s director of banking and payments intelligence, who said that improving problem-solving and communication with clients should be top of mind for banks in their efforts to improve their customer service.
Those are some of the traits that have seen brokers come into their own during the pandemic, helping clients navigate the complex, difficult COVID-19 landscape where traditional banks have been unable to. Only 43% of customers responding to the survey said they felt supported by their bank – while mortgage brokers, according to Terry Kilakos, president, North East Real Estate & Mortgage Agency (pictured), have shown their ability to provide assistance at any time.
“First and foremost, typically a mortgage broker is accessible to the customer almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he told Mortgage Broker News. “A banker might punch in, and punch out, meaning that a lot of the time, clients just have a simple question to ask and they have to wait weeks to get an answer.
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“Especially over the past year, clients who have never used a mortgage broker before have now all of a sudden turned to us and are saying, ‘You know what? This is the right way to do business – through a broker for a mortgage.’”
With that in mind, Kilakos said, it’s time for brokers to shine. In fact, he argued that it’s never been more important for the broker community to get out and demonstrate their true worth to potential customers in the mortgage space.
“I don’t think that brokerage networks and mortgage brokers in general are doing a good enough job promoting themselves, advertising, and making it known what their services actually are,” he said.
“Because of that, I think we’re still lagging far behind the banks, who have deeper pockets and are able to reach more people with advertising messages and so on. It’s every broker’s responsibility to market so that they’re going to end up attracting the proper clients.”
It’s a sentiment that’s echoed by CENTUM president Chris Turcotte (pictured above), who also argued that the increasing prevalence of technology in the industry presented an excellent opportunity for brokers to go head-to-head with banks for mortgage customers.
“With tech innovation in the broker space booming these past 18 months, there’s never been a better chance for a mortgage broker to outshine the bank,” he said. “Leveraging technology to create a fluid and convenient client experience has never been easier, or more important.”
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That attention to the client, Kilakos said, applies both to prospective customers and existing ones, with North East’s focus firmly set on client retention. “We’re constantly touching base with them,” he said. “We’re constantly top of mind for the customer.
“It’s important that mortgage brokers do reach out to their customers – if not annually, then every couple of years. My philosophy has always been that my job doesn’t end when you get the mortgage; my job starts when you get the mortgage.”
It always helps when that interaction involves a personal touch that a larger bank may not provide. “At the end of the day, the bank will never comment on a client’s new puppy on Facebook or drop a hilarious meme on their birthday,” Turcotte said.
“Now’s our time to pull ahead – so touch the heart. That’s how you win.”