When two prospective buyers were let down by an online broker, Lend Wright Brokerage director Michelle Milsom-Wright, combined traditional and digital solutions
Like many industries, broking and finance are shifting to digital solutions.
Whether a customer wants to do an online loan application or source a broker through an app or website, most things today can be done without speaking to another person.
However, as convenient as these solutions can be, they don’t always work.
Last year, I was approached by two potential buyers who had applied for a loan through an online broker.
Their application was confirmed by the website, but despite several follow-ups the ‘broker’ assigned to them had fallen off the face of the earth.
Calls and emails were left unanswered and, with time ticking away, the couple had to seek an extension or face losing their purchase.
They were understandably panicked; an extension had been granted but still no progress was being made. After conversations with their realtor and solicitor, they were given my number.
I met with them and listened to their story. Their existing extension was coming to an end, so it was clear that we would have to move quickly to avoid losing this potential purchase.
There’s a certain irony in this story that speaks volumes about the importance of brokers and their place in an increasingly digital world
The initial priority was to secure a second extension, which I requested through their solicitor, and thankfully the seller agreed.
Next, I had to confirm if an application had been lodged and, if so, what its status was at this point. After several enquiries it came to light that there was no existing application and that it was, in fact, a case of starting from scratch.
The clients were a self-employed couple in their 50s who were looking to secure their future with an investment property they could eventually retire in – it was a clear-cut specialist case.
I collected the information required for the loan in order to find a product that would suit their circumstances and secure the property they had found.
However, during this process I discovered there was an outstanding tax debt of $6,000 that would need to be cleared in order to receive final approval.
To do this, I guided the clients to Wisr and we were able to lodge a personal loan application in both their names. This allowed us to split the liabilities, and the mortgage lender, Resimac, was happy for a personal loan to be considered in their serviceability in order to secure the deal. But there were still some creases to iron out.
Due to the couple’s age – and the small superannuation balances they held – the lender was concerned about their exit strategy.
Returning to the drawing board, I devised a solution that would amortise the prospective loan to clear the balance over a shorter period.
There’s a certain irony in this story that speaks volumes about the importance of brokers and their place in an increasingly digital world. Throughout this deal I mostly worked remotely, communicating with the clients by phone, email and even SMS in order to keep things moving.
To reassure the clients after their earlier experience, I gave nearconstant updates on the status and progress of the loan applications.
This was obviously of great comfort to them, and I was delighted to gain the couple’s trust. Although this approach leveraged technology, it did so in a way that complemented – rather than attempted to replace – the approaches a broker typically utilises to secure a result.
This isn’t the first time a client has come to me after being let down by an online broker, and as such there are several lessons to learn.
Firstly, while the online model’s loss is my gain, it also undermines and trivialises the value of the ‘offline’ broker.
Secondly, in terms of finding solutions, there is a loan for every client – it’s just that sometimes you need to look outside of the box to find it, for example by combining a fintech and a specialist lender.
Lastly, networks are everything; not only do they bring you more business, but in an industry where so many work alone they are also fun to build.
This experience just goes to show that there really is no replacement for the human touch.
Director and senior broker