Mortgage News Live: Clients value “real life advice” and authenticity from brokers on social media

In the latest instalment of Mortgage News Live, in partnership with MPowered Mortgages, Newspage and The Intermediary, brokers shared their thoughts on the growing use of social media within the industry.

Chair Andrew Montlake, managing director at Coreco, asked panellists whether the constant use of social media by brokers is perhaps “verging on overkill”, or conversely, whether the use of platforms such as TikTok and Instagram remain instrumental in achieving success in today’s crowded marketplace.

Darryl Dhoffer, mortgage specialist at The Mortgage Expert, said that in the past couple of years social media has been an instrumental part of his business, particularly following the rise of TikTok.

As the self-proclaimed ‘Mortgage Gheezer’, Dhoffer has built a successful online persona, providing users with mortgage advice as he comedically dons a 1980s-style, quaffed blonde wig.

Emphasising the importance of finding your niche, Dhoffer highlighted social media’s ability to help brokers promote their own unique brand, thus helping spread advice to more potential clients.

Lead generation

Panellists agreed that social media remains vital for brokers wishing to promote their personal brand, but also acknowledged its important role in terms of lead generation.

Bob Singh, director of Chess Mortgages, said that thanks to his weekly mortgage programme, which he started during Covid-19, he has amassed a large following – and now receives up to 10 or 20 new calls a day.

Highlighting the desire for a more personal touch when it comes to mortgage advice, Singh said that it is important to inject comedy into an online presence.

Growing up with British sitcoms in the 1970s and 80s, Singh said that humour plays a key role in his online popularity.

“People want to see the real person behind the knowledge and expertise,” he added.

“People don’t want to know what the base rate is because they can get that off Google – they want you to educate and inform them in a way that no one else does.”

However, Singh also stressed the importance of understanding algorithms, and explained that understanding TikTok’s ever-changing algorithm can be really helpful in reaching a wider audience.

For example, he found that using the right hashtags, trending music and extending the length of his videos has improved his viewership as of late, as TikTok’s algorithm now seems to promote three-to-10-minute videos rather than shorter 10 second ones.

Catching attention

Indeed, catching the attention of potential clients certainly seems to be a key factor for brokers when discussing social media.

Ken James, mortgage broker and protection specialist at Contractor Mortgage Services, said that having an individual identity and maintaining viewers’ attention are the main pillars of his social media strategy.

Citing the wealth of brokers now utilising TikTok to spread advice, James admitted that many videos currently on the platform seem to cover the same topics.

However, he said that putting your own spin on your videos is vital in terms of being noticed.

For instance, he now has adopted a new technique in order to grab viewers’ attention in the first three seconds.

Instead of providing a generic introduction, James welcomes viewers with his hearty “Huzzah!” catchphrase, differentiating himself from other broker commentators on the platform.

“That first snippet is like a shop window,” he explained.

“You need to show what it is that is worth the [viewers’] time, and what makes them stop and listen to you.”

Utilising live streams

Another effective tool highlighted during the discussion was brokers’ innovative use of live streams in order to amass a larger following.

James said that live streams have been transformative for his business.

More so than reels and short-form content, live streams have the ability to show the audience who you really are and your ability to answer questions “on the fly.”

According to Katy Eatonton, mortgage and protection specialist at Lifetime Wealth Management, using Instagram – in particular her ’10 minutes at 10′ live stream – has allowed her to spread information regarding the most pressing topics affecting borrowers right now.

She maintained that many of her current clients have reached out to her thanks to these live streams, stating that “people buy people.”

Mike Stanton, mortgage adviser at Stanton Mortgages, also made use of live streams in order to further his online presence, detailing his ‘Mortgage Offer Monday’ streams, which proved popular with his clients.

In these streams, an adviser will speak with a real-life client who has just been offered a mortgage, talking through the process, and discussing the journey from application to completion.

He said that demonstrating to viewers this real-life experience has been very helpful, with many clients expressing enthusiasm to appear on the next week’s episode, thus generating more business.

Singh corroborated this viewer interest in real life scenarios, stating that “people want real life situations which they can relate to.”

He said that he capitalises on this appetite by creating two- or three-minute long TikTok videos in which he explains the most difficult cases that have come across his desk that day, giving viewers insight into the process of the broker all the while educating them about the intricacies of the mortgage market.

Promoting authenticity

In line with presenting viewers and clients a real life view into the mortgage market, Stanton also highlighted social media’s ability to strip away normal industry formalities.

Instead of meeting with clients in a shirt and tie, Stanton has built a brand around wearing a hoodie in order to be more approachable.

This sense of authenticity continued to be a topic of discussion, as Montlake highlighted the prevalence of misinformation that unfortunately permeates many social media platforms today.

In order to combat this, Eatonton said: “The only thing we can do is give the right advice.”

“We need to continue what we are doing showing why things are wrong without naming and shaming people.”

Dhoffer agreed, stating that in his TikTok bio he has recently placed all the relevant links to his business details and his FCA registration.

He said that taking small steps such as this can help borrowers be confident that they are getting their information from a trusted source.

He also urged borrowers to do their own research and to check the information that they’re being presented with on social media, to prevent the spread of misinformation and fear-mongering.