The head of an aggregator group has provided an update on the “rolling series of realities” experienced over the last few weeks as COVID-19 has spread throughout the world, and what it all means for the broking industry.
Loan Market executive chairman Sam White said, “This cloud has come over what’s been a really strong start to the year. We’re in this uncertain period again, of not knowing exactly how long this virus will go on for and what kind of impact it’ll have.
“The Prime Minister spoke about how it’s important that confidence and economic activity still continues. Brokers are key parts of the economic environment, so it’s important we step up to this.”
Speaking to Loan Market brokers via a video message, White highlighted that uncertainty often makes consumers value expertise even more acutely.
“Right now, I want to remind everyone the best thing we can be doing is talking to our customers, whether they’re existing customers who are uncertain or future customers coming through. The expertise you bring to your customer and to your referral partners is critical,” he said.
“I’ve heard lots of talk about, ‘Well what sort of customers are going to be coming out if this virus gets worse?’ I can tell you there’s going to be all sorts of people that are going to want to get into this marketplace: people who see this is a buying opportunity, people who have their hearts set on something so this is not a big deal.
“What we need to look at is being the people who can help those customers get the best finance package they can.”
Additionally, with immediate effect, Loan Market has changed its policy to allow for non-face-to-face meetings and the remote completion of verification of identity.
Loan Market chief compliance and regulation officer David McQueen joined the video to address the compliance implications of the update.
“We’ve reviewed all of the relevant laws and we’re comfortable you can absolutely use that technology,” he said.
However, many lenders currently require broker interactions with customers to occur in person, face to face.
“If you actually look at the law, it doesn’t stipulate that you must do that. It says that ‘whatever is practical’. In this world, we do believe that it is practical to use video technology to verify a customer,” said McQueen.
“We’re engaging with our lender partners to get some responses in terms of that. We’re hoping they will actually also show some flexibility.”
Transitioning certain interactions to digital platforms shows a willingness to be flexible that customers are sure to notice and appreciate, according to White.
“Some customers may want to do more interviews over technology rather than face to face. If that’s what they choose, you can support them in that. It’s great to have choice. It’s great to be able to help customers how they want,” he said.
“Those who do that well are going to navigate this uncertainty better than those who don’t. Unfortunately, it’s a lesson we learnt that I thought we might not need to learn again for a little while but it’s come back faster than I thought after the royal commission of last year."