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Client data – How to make it useful

by | Jul 24, 2017 | Broker Lenders, Brokers

Are you wondering how to make best use of your clients’ data? Read this article for tips, which first appeared in the IRESS Industry Voice magazine.

Data is the backbone of the mortgage industry: data about the market, house prices, and future forecasts are readily available and used by both investors and brokers. Brokers have data about their past and current clients, as well as information about prospects, as a resource. However, busy focusing on the day-to-day activity of securing finance for clients, brokers may not take the time to realise how valuable data can be.

Having the right information about a client or prospect now could result in a future deal, assuming you have the relevant authority to contact them. Brokers frequently encounter investors whose deals do not work out the first time – for example when their circumstances do not fit the criteria lenders demand. Instead of writing off these potential clients, brokers could revisit them in future if, for instance, a lender brings out a new product which might fit their circumstances or when new regulations are introduced which could benefit them. Brokers should accurately record all the details about the circumstances of prospects as it could provide an opportunity to reach out to them in the future.

The essential starting point therefore is collecting as much data as possible about clients and prospects in order to be able to identify these kinds of opportunities.

Brokers understand the need to know their current clients inside out, and they can do this by building and maintaining accurate, up-to-date client records. Even if a client is not in contact for a while, they will appreciate that the broker remembers their circumstances. Such databases should be reviewed regularly to see if changing market environments can be taken advantage of.

It is also useful to collect other types of data such as social media handles to be able to engage with current clients and past contacts through platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.

Once the data is in place, it is then important to segment the clients. How exactly they are segmented will depend on the specialty of the broker’s business and what they want to do with the information. This could, for example, be segmentation by region, loan type requested, size of portfolio, type of portfolio, LTV or product requested. It could look at the type of investor they are in more detail – are they self-employed, are they a full-time property investor (perhaps as a limited company), or is this a side business?

Finally, brokers want to be sure they are getting the best use from this data.

  • Up-selling and revisiting deals that did not happen: As previously mentioned, a key reason for keeping accurate data is to be able to revisit opportunities that did not work out, but there is also the opportunity of suggesting a finance option that the investor may not have thought of.
  • Marketing to help client acquisition: Social media is a powerful channel to influence prospects and grow interest in your organisation by sharing informative and useful content. Adding prospects to networks will enable brokers to stay on the radar of existing and potential clients.
  • Engage with existing clients: Using the different client segments will help brokers build up targeted marketing campaigns, or even personalised campaigns where segments are refined enough.

However, as all brokers know, client data is a commodity that is protected by the authorities.

The Data Protection Act 1998 requires personal data to be held in an organised way, such as on a spreadsheet. The person in charge of this data, known as the data controller, must ensure that the data is kept in accordance with the Act.

Moreover, the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect from 25 May 2018, after the two-year transition period since 27 April 2016, extends data protection requirements. Brokers should already be aware of the implications of the new directive and be preparing for it, but if you would like a refresher, the Information Commissioner’s Office has a useful summary.

With the world moving online, data is easier to gather and harness than ever for brokers, it just requires some planning and an awareness of how this is recorded. It is worth the effort to do this and can result in significantly improved relationships with existing clients and potential business which may not have been previously available.

By Julie Griggs, Director, CPC Finance