At a recent roundtable I hosted on the conveyancing market, what struck me most was brokers’ experience, firstly, of how they moved their business into the conveyancing space, and secondly, how their overall experience within the sector has changed in recent years.
Now for many years we’ve preached the message about the many ‘win-wins’ that advisory firms can achieve through offering their clients advice and recommendations on the conveyancing firms they should use. To us, given the technology, the pricing, the income that can be generated, the client control on offer, and a host of other benefits, it has always appeared to be something of a no-brainer. Why, as an adviser, wouldn’t you offer this ancillary service?
And yet, you don’t have to be a market statistician to realise that not all advisers are offering conveyancing advice services. Getting to the nub of why this might be the case has always been a challenge however, at the roundtable, we all gained insight into why take-up was not universal.
In essence, for many advisers, it appears to be a question of confidence. Confidence in the partners they would be dealing with, confidence in the advice they could offer, and confidence in the quality of service they would be providing their client with, both from themselves and the conveyancing firm.
After sorting the mortgage out, and one would hope providing a top-rate service, it seems many advisers are worried about being tripped up on a service that isn’t a core offering, with the result that the client not only questions the conveyancing advice but the whole service. Were it to go wrong, the adviser understandably didn’t want the complaints to be thrown in their direction and it appears that feeling unable to truly, 100% vouch for the conveyancing service on offer, they would rather not get involved.
Now, when you put the argument like that, it appears logical however a part of me worries that, for those advisers, the focus is far too pessimistic and instead of looking at all the positives that could be offered to the client, the overriding belief is that, ‘It’s likely to go wrong, and when it does, I’ll get the blame”.
Well, quite frankly, this could happen in any aspect of their business and service offering and there is now, with distributors like ourselves, the opportunity to have a much more fully-rounded conveyancing proposition which should effectively minimise those concerns. For instance, another obstacle raised was with regards to conveyancing firm comparisons – price is obviously an issue but so is service, capacity, specialism, experience, the list goes on. How can an adviser who is uncertain, particularly about those firms they’ve never dealt with before, be confident in the service and therefore their recommendation?
Again, this is the reason why we for instance, have Account Managers and a helpdesk in place because we don’t expect advisers to have full knowledge in this area. Instead they should be able to ask, and trust, us on who they might want to place their client instruction with, especially if they are looking for specialist experience, for instance, in the area of limited company buy-to-let cases.
The other important point to recognise is the movement that has taken place in terms of conveyancing firms’ ability to work with advisers. I know that the intermediary community welcomes the opportunity to pick up a phone, deal with an individual, and essentially have that one-to-one contact that they can get with certain mortgage lenders.
And conveyancers are no different – in recent times firms have got a lot better at securing and maintaining these relationships, up to a point where certain conveyancers will always have the same staff dealing with the same adviser. This builds up the relationship, and it certainly builds up the confidence the adviser will have in the firm/individual especially if it’s been a successful relationship up to that point.
So, while some advisers may still be concerned about making that jump into another sector, the important point is not to say ‘No’ simply because you are fearful of what might happen. Every day hundreds/thousands of advisers offer a conveyancing advice service which produces good results for all concerned, plus by using a distributor you are also shielding yourself with an added layer of security simply because of the work that we do ‘behind the scenes’. Now is certainly not the time to fear the sector, instead there is much to be gained from embracing it.
Harpal Singh is managing director of BrokerConveyancing.co.uk