Staying ahead of the curve
Friday 19th February 2010
By Phil Whitehouse, Head of The Mortgage Alliance (TMA)
I’m consistently astounded by the sheer amount of technological enhancements we see and experience both in the media and in our everyday lives. It seems that every day brings a new dawn in the development of new and improved gadgets, gizmos and online offerings. Believe it or not YouTube, the world's largest video-sharing website, recently celebrated its fifth birthday. Such is the power of this website that it feels it has been around forever and certainly longer than the mere five years that it has got under its belt.
According to figures from UKOM, some 16.9 million people, or 43 per cent of Britain's internet users, accessed the video-sharing site last month. This represents more than 150 per cent growth in the UK since January 2007 - during which time YouTube has also doubled the size of its global footprint to command also half of the entire online population.
Impressive stuff but as well as enabling us to watch clips of people falling over or animals playing the guitar, technology has also had a major part to play in the development of the modern financial services industry. It is a must for firms to ensure that their online offering is maximised in whatever area of the market they are working in. At TMA we are in the midst of revamping our website to offer directly authorised (DA) brokers greater support and easier access to TMA’s wide range of products and services. The redevelopment of the website constitutes a significant investment for us as a mortgage club. It will aim to offer DA’s easier access to an array of intermediary solutions whilst being backed up by the necessary training and support.
There is no doubting the increasing popularity of online activity and firms must embrace the changes in the national psyche by marketing themselves to their target audience in a manner befitting their requirements.
Firm’s operating in the mortgage market must look at what is happening around them, realise how powerful a tool the internet really is and work with it not against it. There is growing evidence that firms are looking to up the ante in terms of being more proactive and sophisticated in their website offerings but it is up to us to constantly evaluate just how useful this application is.
Embracing technology is certainly one good way of ensuring that businesses can stay ahead of the game. Take this winters ‘freak’ weather conditions that seemed to grind half of the country to a halt. In this technological age many people have got mobile phones, Blackberries, wireless internet connections and a number of firms have admin and back office systems fully online so there are limited excuses, in terms of productivity, for brokers.
We all have to move with the times and by utilising the benefits of online technology we can all offer even greater support to our clients, business partners and members to ensure that business transactions are easier and more efficient. Time is of the essence especially in such a tough marketplace.
Phil Whitehouse is head of network, The Mortgage Alliance. The Mortgage Alliance has a loyal data base of 7,000 Directly Authorised mortgage intermediaries and as with most firms operating within the mortgage market it is having to overcome a number of obstacles in order to help members write business. He previously worked as a senior manager for Pink Home Loans and spent 25 years with Halifax/Leeds Permanent Building Society running various high street branches. Phil enjoys golf but says: “No matter what I do I cannot get any better and I beat myself up crazily about something that on the face of it is such a simple game."
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