Bob Hunt is chief executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services and a board member of SMP

There is plenty of uniformity in business these days with management philosophies being touted and adopted which are designed to work across numerous industries and sectors.

Of course, there are basics which should be followed when running a business but after a period of time, it becomes increasingly important – especially in a highly competitive sector – to embrace what is unique about your offering and to make the most of it in terms of marketing your services.

In that regard, understanding the fundamentals is crucial, particularly when it comes to the collation, and use, of your data, specifically your customer data.

Ask any advisory practice how strong their customer data collection is, how thorough, where they store it, how they access and explore it, and how they utilise it, and you’re likely to get an answer which always focuses on the positive.

The reality however, in my experience, is that when you dig a little deeper it’s never quite as good as some firms think it is, and even if it is, it’s more than likely that it’s being under-used, particularly in terms of how its used to retain those very same clients from which the data has come in the first place. If data was a gold bar, why then do some firms treat it like a lead brick.

For the poorer operators in this market, the data is simply a means to an end. A way to source and recommend, to meet the compliance responsibilities, and then left to ‘rot away‘ in whatever system has been used to store it.

Other firms will do more than this, setting up processes and structures, timelines and reminders, so that, for example, as the mortgage special rate comes to an end, a client communication is fired off which hopefully delivers the client back to the adviser.

That is clearly better than doing the bare minimum, but again in terms of holding onto that client for more than a simple mortgage transaction once every few years, where in all likelihood the client has probably forgotten who you are, it’s unlikely to get you to where you want to be.

To evolve, you have to think long-term in this market, which I appreciate can be difficult when you’re focusing on the here and now in a sector which is always shifting.

However, it might help to look ahead and think about your exit strategy, because in doing this you will be able to visualise the way you might wish your firm to look in order for you to achieve your exit goals, whatever they might be.

In particular, think about exit via acquisition. How might your firm look to an acquirer? What will they be buying? Of course, they will take into account those transactional mortgage clients but they are likely to be far more interested in a firm which has placed retention – across all products and services – front and centre of their business.

One which has the very best customer data to be able to pinpoint where client-need gaps might potentially exist, and which is able to follow those up and turn needs into client solutions and ultimately income.

It is those firms who can build recurring income through a variety of products and services which are going to have the strongest financial foundations to be attractive to a buyer.

Firms who have concerns about the quality of their data can use data-cleansing tools, for example MortgageDoc.AI and, as a result, enhance the process of building embedded value in their firm year after year.

There are a combination of factors which will need to come together to get to that point, but as a start, why not review the data you collect, where you store it and how you can crunch it to find those customer touchpoints.

By doing this you‘ll find those areas where a client might require communication perhaps with regular updates on protection or GI, as well as the core mortgage area of the business.

By delving into, improving, and using your data, nurturing your clients, you are able to provide them with specific communications with content which is individual to them.

It’s essentially about adding a value-added aspect to each client communication, and you can identify what that might be through the data you collect and use.

For example, you might be aware they have just started a family, and therefore targeted communications around life insurance or protection might be appropriate.

Always on Fintec – for example Dashly, not only runs 24/7, checking to ensure your client is on the best rate, it can send automatic comms highlighting an increase in the value of a clients property and how that client might be able to utilise this.

By setting up those processes, improving and adding to clients data, you will highlight areas to focus on, or potential gaps in their financial life, leading to marketing activity which always has your clients needs at its heart and which ensures you are always front and centre when such a need arises.

It will come across as you fully understanding a clients changing situation and is likely to drive further business as they come back to the adviser that knows them best time and time again.

The final important point here is to do this sooner rather than later. It is never too late to start on this endeavour, this plan for an exit, but it’s also undoubtedly true that the sooner you do it the better.

Make sure you have the right technology and tools in place to get the most out of the data that will be absolutely unique to you and your firm, and then use it in all ways possible to build a firm which has an attraction all of its own.