Freestyle Mortgage Factfinding

Way back in 2014, the FCA banned non advised selling of mortgages. Overnight swathes of lender sales forces switched from following decision trees and scripted questions to advice. It wasn’t easy, and many have struggled with the transition.

With their risk lens firmly fitted, they moved to scripted or guided questioning ensuring their people asked the right question, presumably to get the correct answer so they could complete their suitability report, which, by the way, was never mandatory.

I witnessed a fair share of leading with those scripted questions, so to fit the customer into a need area.

Have we arrived at proper advice and factfinding? Many have. Some haven’t, causing unnecessary pain for customers.

Let me explain how you can. Its called freestyle.

I’ve always been a decent swimmer, preferring front crawl and breaststroke but I’ve always been intrigued with Olympic level swimmers who do the freestyle. What is it?

Freestyle is not a stroke but a category in swimming competitions. ... Therefore if a race specifies front crawl, you have to swim front crawl, whereas if it says freestyle you can swim any stroke including sidestroke, breaststroke or butterfly.

This is important. When we allow freestyle in a mortgage needs conversation, we let the adviser freewheel in any way they want as long as they come up with desired customer needs so they can justify their mortgage advice.

Risky? Maybe but the customer has a better time of it instead been led down the garden path and fitted into a predetermined loan.

It’s best to give parameters, and the easiest way to achieve an element of control and freestyle is to contextualise it. Let me explain.

  1. Context and reason
  2. Question
  3. Listen
  4. Probe why
  5. Summarise

Provide the background and the reason why you’re arriving there. This is an excellent signposting technique anyway but allowing your customer to know what you want to talk about is very reassuring.

For example, let’s say you want to talk about the type of mortgage suitable, so you introduce the topic and explain why it’s essential, and then you ask an open question such as “Tell me about your thinking on this topic?”

Now your customer will give you anything in response. They may not have any thoughts, or they may. “What’s important to you in the mortgage that you take out?” “How do you feel about the monthly payments”, “How much certainty do you want?” “What else is important to you?”

Keep probing and listening carefully. Ask why they have a preference or need, explore deep down to the reason why. Make sure you soften any why questions, otherwise you can come over interrogative.

If they have no idea of their options, just explain them, but once you’ve asked about their views first and their needs. When you finish, ask them a very open question, “So where has that taken your thinking about your mortgage?” Keep listening, probing and delving as to why.

Then summarise, using their own words, confirm you’ve heard it correctly and make some notes.

Freestyle. It requires practice, confidence, but it’s rewarding and a real winner.

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