Specializing in information management, Joseph Valenti has been in the IT consultation business for over two decades now. His brainchild BrokrBindr has been made available to mortgage industry players a little over 18 months ago.
What do you think would be the broker’s role in an increasingly online world?
A combination of AI and other technologies will provide the major banks with the means to close deals with their own customers very efficiently. That may seem new, but the banks have always enjoyed that same privileged status. They’re going to exploit their competitive advantage as well as they always have. In future, as today, brokers will present a viable (and interesting!) alternative. Yes, brokers must invest in technology, but it is essential that the larger community also invest in awareness campaigns, as independent insurance brokers do. Creating the perception of value in the borrower’s mind is essential, and that is very much about marketing and positioning, not just AI and tech.
How do you see the relationship between client and mortgage professional developing in this digital landscape?
Technology is just a medium. At least some clients still want to speak to a real human about the most important financial undertaking they are ever likely to make. Some clients will sail through a deal without needing to speak with anyone, but imagine if he/she did need some advice and had a hard time reaching a thoughtful advisor. Would they ever return there? No. Even the tech guy acknowledges that handshakes and insight still count!
How could mortgage professionals keep themselves updated on the latest tools? Is “future shock” a threat?
In any business, it is best to build processes around the customers’ expectations. With the introduction of mobile technologies (think “iPad”) after 2010, customer expectations changed with repercussions in many industries. The systems and processes needed to meet those expectations must also change. Your most effective competitors are using marketing automation, lead-scoring, document-management, sophisticated CRMs, and other tools to better meet customer expectations, and yes, that means that change for many brokers and agencies. Change, but not panic! Learning and adapting to the needs of the customer will always be a challenge. Tech is perhaps more important than it used to be, but it is still just one part of the service brokers/agencies must provide to satisfy customer expectations.