There are in any market ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’ and with all the references to ‘fake news’ and the like, there is a danger that we could be led to believe that all manner of facts are simply made up. Part of the danger in today’s world is not trusting any information that is made available, and when you have leading politicians saying that we have become ‘fed up with experts’, then you know we’ve been led down an incredibly slippery slope.
However, given our line of business, to not take notice of the very customers we serve would be a gross dereliction of duty and will, in all likelihood, end up damaging the businesses we have worked so hard to build up. Therefore, when I saw some recent research suggesting that just 46% of borrowers (both remortgagers and purchasers) felt their conveyancer was ‘good value for money’, it clearly struck a chord about the image of our market and the quality of service firms are providing.
Now, of course, within such research there is a list of caveats that should come with it. It would be foolish to suggest that every conveyancer is the same and there’s no drilling down here in terms of the type of conveyancer that was used by these borrowers. Were they local family firms? Were they the bigger specialists? Were they somewhere in between?
Plus of course, when it comes to purchasing a house especially, any extra cost – especially when it comes to the legals – is only going to be paid begrudgingly. Conveyancing is a ‘necessary evil’ when it comes to both house purchase or remortgaging, and there are very few who are going to be truly delighted with the service. Add in the length of time conveyancing can take – often not the fault of the firm I might add – and conveyancers are on a hiding to nothing.
However, this doesn’t mean that firms shouldn’t take note. Nor does it mean that advisers should somehow feel they are not involved in this part of the process, even if they are not recommending conveyancers or somehow feel a number of steps removed from the process. Indeed, there is a strong argument to suggest that with an adviser’s involvement, the chances of a client being far more satisfied with a conveyancer are increased substantially.
Let’s think about it for a second. In this process, the advisers are the trusted professionals with whom the client is likely to have a much stronger relationship than they will have with a conveyancing firm they’ve probably only just been introduced to. Left to their own devices, and without an adviser acting as their ‘middle man/woman’ during the legals, there is probably going to be much more of an ‘information void’ and the feeling that they have to do all this by themselves.
With an adviser’s recommendation and their availability through that process, not only does the adviser keep control but the client will feel they have more people batting for them, and another person they can go to, should that communication trail ever run cold. In that sense, it seems like an obvious service that advisers should be providing because it gives them another ‘touching point’ with the client, and gives them another opportunity not just for an income stream but also to prove their worth.
Now, at the end of the day, this might still not translate to an overly satisfied client fully in appreciation of the conveyancer and what they have achieved for them. But, you can’t have everything and I think conveyancers have learnt that they may not always (if ever) be flavour of the client’s month. However, for the adviser, if that recommendation does a good job and the timescales are hit, then it will certainly mean ‘brownie points’ for that individual and I suspect will result in an appreciable increase in references and referrals.
The legals in this process are non-negotiable, but an adviser’s involvement in the conveyancing is not. It’s a choice not to recommend, as much as it is a choice to provide that advice and stay involved. In my view, for advisers at least the positives of maintaining that control far outweighs any negatives, and with the portals like ourselves who make the whole recommendation process incredibly easy, there are no excuses for not delivering this service to clients. They will certainly thank you for a smooth process, if not necessarily their conveyancing firm.