56% of later life lending advisers think there will be a greater reliance on technology compared to paper-based systems when the equity release market returns to more normal operating models, according to new research from More2Life.
Social distancing has prompted more advisers to begin using technology alongside other remote working tools to carry out day-to-day business. According to More2Life’s research on over 350 advisers, the majority (73%) of firms have started to use video conferencing apps more during the government lockdown, while 61% are relying more heavily on phone conference lines.
38% of brokers say they are calling lenders on the phone less. Instead, intermediaries are more reliant on providers’ portals (+19%) to keep on top of the rapidly changing market than before the pandemic hit.
Reliance on social media platforms to engage with contacts and new customers has also grown during the pandemic with 23% of advisers citing an increased use of LinkedIn and a further 25% using Facebook more since the start of the crisis.
Furthermore, around a quarter (26%) of advisers have introduced phone-based advice since the start of lockdown and almost half (43%) have begun to offer advice using video calling systems, having never offered either service previously. Over a third (39%) of advisers have also introduced additional checks to ensure their remote advice is compliant.
Dave Harris, CEO at More2Life, said: “Over recent weeks, advisers have had to adapt to a wave of challenges presented by the coronavirus crisis. Technology has been crucial in ensuring they could do so quickly and effectively, whilst helping to keep the equity release market moving. It has been encouraging to see that, with the help of digital tools, advisers have been able to continue to help older borrowers and process cases efficiently.
“As we begin to consider what a post-pandemic equity release market looks like, it’s great to hear that advisers have embraced the role of technology and that many of them realise the potential for technology to accelerate their business in the long-term.”
As a result of the government lockdown, remote working practices have also grown in popularity among advisers. Over half (51%) of advisers confirmed they have found that their team works well from home and will introduce the practice as a long-term solution following the pandemic. In addition, almost half (47%) of advisers confirmed they are reviewing their firm’s internal processes to find ways of making their business more streamlined.
However, despite the technological advances made during lockdown, only 10% of those surveyed felt that the lifetime mortgage market will have developed a broader range of customer communication options once the industry returns to its pre-crisis operating models.
Harris added: “The coronavirus crisis has forced change in the equity release industry and we are hopeful that the methods currently being adopted will become a lasting feature of the sector. It’s vital that lenders and trade bodies continue to work together to ensure that advisers have the tools and resources they need to help future-proof their business.
“Innovative technology will go a long way towards achieving this, and at More2Life we are committed to supporting advisers with the right digital tools they need in order to succeed now and in a post-pandemic world.”