Later Life

176 | Building a brand in the equity release market

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Tutors:

  • Hattie Fancourt, National Account Manager, Pure Retirement
  • Rachel Pease, Head of Marketing and Communications, Pure Retirement

Learning outcomes:

  1. Best practices for engaging with later life lending customers
  2. The challenges when building a brand in the market
  3. The trends emerging in the later life lending space

Brand Health Check guide

Channel

Later Life

Automatically generated using Asset TV AI and Amazon Web Services.
It may contain errors and omissions.

Yeah. Mm hmm. So we know from previous programs, the later life lending market is growing. But if you are an adviser already in the space or wanting to go into the space, then how should you position yourself here To answer that question? I'm joined by guests from pure retirement. I have Hattie Bank or national account manager and Rachel peas, head of marketing. So starting with you Hattie, how rapidly is the market growing? So we have seen an increase in the equity release customers that we have seen over previous years. But the challenges that we faced over the last couple of years have actually opened equity release up to a whole new range of clients and customers in lots of different areas. So it's difficult to say, you know, we're just looking at 10% growth but we're actually looking at so much more than just 10% growth. We're looking at a completely new customers. Were looking at completely new trends. Um and it genuinely is a really exciting market and is expected that this growth will continue. Absolutely, absolutely. The demand is absolutely there. As we spoke about in our previous conversation here, that we actually don't have enough advisors to service the amount of clients that are out there. So that's why it's so important that we're talking about this today to open you as an advisor up to this market. And if you are already in that market, how you can actually actually capture more customers and how you can brand and find those customers turning to you Rachel. So we've seen that it's a growing opportunity, How can advisors tap into the market and what are some of the issues they might face? Yes, so as what you're saying is a huge opportunity to tap into. And the best way to do that is to find ways to really engage with this group of customers in a way that resonates with them. So how you portray yourself as a business, how you come across, how you communicate with those customers really does make a big difference. And that's why your brand and the way you position yourself is so important. You spoke a bit about brands there. So some advisors might be watching thinking, we're a small firm, you know, there's a few of us brand that's big companies, how can they use their brand? What does that mean for smaller firms? Yeah, absolutely. So when you think of brand immediately comes to mind the big corporate companies with the well known logos, But it's absolutely not about that. So the way that brand has been perceived has changed a lot over the last 30 years. So it used to be thought that customers made their purchasing decisions based on rational, logical choices that were largely centered around price, but that's just not the case today at all, customers choose companies that they want to work with based on how they feel about them. So it's really important for companies to make that connection almost an emotional connection with their customers in order to engage them and have them work with them going forward and, and it's actually almost an advantage for smaller companies when they're not huge. They don't have all that red tape, they can have more of a personal relationship with customers where they don't feel like just another number where they don't feel like just another sale. Um, and it's easier for smaller companies as well to share a bit of their own story. So a bit of themselves, customers want to see the face behind the brand, know who they're working with and it's much easier for small companies to do that. A really strong point in the way they can position themselves as a brand. I think as well, myself, working out in the field face to face with advisors, you know, for the last six, nearly seven years now, I've been working with advisors in the, in the equity release space. And one thing that I've really picked up on is there's a huge variety in terms of what different companies charge for their services. And I think something to really pick up on from today's session is the fact that customers aren't looking at that price point. They're not just looking at, how much is this going to cost me? They are looking at the whole brands, Do they connect with this person, Do they trust this person, do they trust this brand? Do they believe in the same things that they believe in. So, um, I know personally from, from my experience that there are, there is a huge range in terms of price points in the equity release market, um, but it is very much centered around the customer, makes that decision based on the advisor themselves, who they are and what their brand looks like. We've spoken a bit about external communication and Brandon. What about internal communication and Brandon? Yes, So that's so important. You can't portray the brand you want to portray externally unless it's right on the inside. So a lot of it is about aligning everyone internally, making sure everyone's on the same page, understanding who you are is a company, what you're about, how you want to speak to your customers. Um, it's about having that consistency for a customer experience, no matter who they speak to within your company, whatever touch point. And it's so important because the slightest thing can make a difference as to how your brand's perceived. So everything from how a customer experience is a telephone call, a customer service representative from the company or even if they're bob about on a lunchtime and they're wearing company lanyard with the name on how you behave on that lunchtime can affect how people feel about the brand. Um, social media obviously is a big one at the moment. So anything people post on their own social media if if it says who they work for can really affect how customers perceive that brand. So it's really important that it's front of mind all the time for everyone within that company dealing with customers. So is this still relevant even if it's a smaller firm say with two or 3 people? Yeah, absolutely. It's exactly the same principle. In fact, it's almost a little easier if it's a smaller company, there's less people to align and get on the same page. But it's important whatever company you are, whatever size you are. So presumably this is a challenge for advisors. It is a challenge for providers as well. What's your research and you know how if you kind of faced this issue at your Absolutely it is for large companies, providers like ourselves up your retirement I think particularly with the way the world has changed with remote working now. So we like a lot of other companies have a combination of hybrid work office working in the office, working from home. Um and it's just finding ways to make sure everyone is still aligned still on the same page. So we do that through a strong program of internal communications, making sure regular messaging is going out when we have training for staff. It's not just the new starters that are trained on branding and keeping it front of mind, it's refreshes throughout the year just to make sure everyone keeps it absolutely front of mind and everything that they're doing and just to add to that my job role as national account manager, I manage the field based BDM team. So we are often perceived as the face of the business, so it's something that we, we focus on day in day out and pure retirement are really fantastic in that we have got our core values and it is really, really important that each member of staff lives and breathes those core values and everything that we do as a BDM team, it is based around those values and that it does align with the business and the messages that we want to give out there. So I do think it's really, really important as as you know, a bigger corporate company that we do still have that even on an individual level. Um and it all just plays into that same overall view of the company and we've got a really, really strong reputation in the market and were perceived in a really, really positive way and that is because we do have those strong messages that we deliver really consistently Rachel. You recently did a brand health check, can you tell me a bit about that? You know why you did it and what the findings were. Yeah, absolutely. So, um pure retirement as part of our offering for advisors, we have a marketing toolkit which is a wealth of resources just to help advisors engage their customer base and actually the start of last year, at the start of 2020, I looked at a project with silver marketing association and they look at working with companies across multiple sectors, or not just financial services, Specifically targeted at the over 50s market. So we wanted to do a piece of research to see, you know what what does being over 50 mean today? What makes these customers take? How do we engage with them? The project as with many things at the beginning of 2020 got put on hold because of the pandemic, but it actually worked out even better. So when we resumed the project at the beginning of this year, We could also take into consideration the effect of the last 18 months, how it's changed perceptions and priorities of what's important to people. Um The research itself was a really big piece of work. So we interviewed 20 experts in their fields, across heads of brand, across multiple sectors, some specialists in the little life market specifically, and founders of new startup brands as well, just for their take on, you know, what made those brands successful? Why are they working? Um the research also took into account commentary from the other 50s themselves, as well as insight from data experts like experience and brand view, who are a company that helped track how a brand is performing for companies over time. And what were some of the key findings from that research? Was there anything that came as a bit of a surprise at all? Um well, I mean it was it was a massive piece of work and I think it's important to say that it talks about who the over 50s are, but by no means that they all the same, everyone is different. Having said that there were some key themes that came out of it, one being that this particular group at this point in time have a real amount of spending power. So they're of an age where they're still in the in the lucky position of receiving final salary pensions and there's an awful lot of wealth tied up in their homes. So it just really brings to light the importance of you know, companies making the effort to engage these these people, these customers um to be in with a chance of being recipients of some of that spend. So I think for me, when I read the piece through and I've said to reach several times what are insightful, fantastic piece it really is. And it's going to be so valuable to advises out there. One of the most common themes of conversation um that the B. D. M. S. Have across the industry in this market is about finding new customers, how do I grow my business, How do I do more business? And it is about how we're going to reach those clients. And for me, what was so interesting is after having these conversations and looking into the way that advisors in this market, not not all of them as as a general rule, engage with their customers. There's a lot of changes that perhaps need need to be made and we need to be careful that we're not stereotyping and we need to be mindful that we are exploring the channels that this market is engaging with. So Such as, you know, the fact that so many over 50s are on social media and on Facebook, and that's where they do look for. Um they do look to verify who they're dealing with and they do always look at the website, they look at the content, they look at what is available to them and so advisers aren't marketers, that's not what they do for a living, their financial advisors and that's where their expertise lie, however, is becoming increasingly important that you have to have that side of your business. You need to be able to access your clients and they are going to be checking you out online, they are going to be having a look at you on social media, they are going to be exploring who you are as a person. And I think from me reading that piece and the conversations that I've had with brokers, there are a lot of changes that people need to make and they are simple and really effective changes and I'm really excited to be able to take this journey with brokers and show them that by making these small changes, what a massive impact it will have on their business. I think you mentioned there as well about them taking the time to look at websites, find out information for themselves and that was another key theme that came out of it. So, as well as being wealthy in a financial perspective, these customers are very time rich as well, so they're not necessarily working full time, they may have retired, they may be working part time, they don't have young families living at home with them, so they do have the time to research properly all about the companies they choose to work with and they absolutely do do do that. It came out of the research. So, like Catty says, really important to have your website up to date information really easy to find having testimonials on there as well is a really good tip. These customers want to know that other people have had a good experience. So anything you can do just to make sure that everything is up to date to engage them is really helpful as well. Yeah. And I know one of the pieces that really stuck out to me when reading it through about the, about the demographic, is that if things are not correct, if they're not up to date, if they're not accurate, it's a real annoyance and it is, it is something that will make them change their purchasing decision, they will look at that and think if this isn't up to date, if this isn't correct, it will make them think I'm going to look for another option. So it's very it's really important that when they are checking you out online, which they will that it portrays you in the way that you want to be portrayed, it's that quality piece as well. So they're looking for quality of product, quality of service, they're willing to spend that little bit more if that extra quality is there. And as Hattie says, it goes down to quality of communication as well. So what came out of the commentary was things like just even the end of letters, if this sign off isn't done properly, if spelling is incorrect or grammar, it just really puts them off because they think, well, you know, if companies can't even be bothered to get this right, what other mistakes that they're making and particularly when it's a financial services product, which is a really big decision, companies need to show that they're getting these little things right so that they can gain that custom going forward. Matty as you said, it's important not to generalize how can individual advisors take this, you know, big picture research on the demographic and use that in their day to day. Yeah. So it's just really important about not categorizing everybody into the same bracket as I mentioned at the beginning, the market that we're working with now is so diverse. The reasons why people are coming forward for equity release is so diverse, We've got so many different reasons. So if you are trying to capture that market, you're not going to capture it by generalizing, you're going to have one client coming forward who is actually quite wealthy and they're going to be looking at at it from an inheritance tax point of view. Or perhaps they're gifting to their Children to get them onto the property ladder or you know, that they're not in a position where, you know, they're not desperate for money, but actually releases a fantastic option for what they're looking to achieve. Um, and then we can look on the flip side where you've got a lot of asset rich cash, poor customers where perhaps they've got a property that's worth, you know, decent value. Um, but they, you know, they haven't got the money to turn the heating on and they're, they're a very different demographic to what, what, what we're looking at on the other side. So by generalizing you don't capture that market. Um, it's really important as well to show that you see the equity release market in a positive way. I think that's probably the most important thing, isn't it, that you're not deeming it as a negative thing. You're showing that this is, this is a great option. This is a great market. This is a positive thing. This is going to change your life. This is going to give you options that you didn't know that you had, and I think it's just, you know, we don't want to see pictures of old people as such and we don't want to generally sit in that way. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that's a lot of the problem, isn't it? That imagery hasn't really been there unless companies are wanting to pay for their own photography, which you know, who's got the budget to do that. It hasn't really been there. But now there are companies, some participants in the research report who, who are actually collating these image banks of realistic imagery that's positive but not overly positive, just that's going to be available for people to use going forward, which is great, Look over 50 is, um, you know, it's a really positive stage of your life. You know, especially for people that have worked hard for, you know, a very long time and they are moving into retirement. Perhaps they're looking at early retirement. Um, perhaps they're looking to go part time. This is the time where you can start taking things off your bucket list. This is a time where you can really start to live. And you know, even from a personal perspective where my parents are retired, they've never traveled so much except covid, but you know, even in the UK, you know, they, you know, they haven't stopped, they're really living now and that is what this demographic is looking to do. They are looking to live and they are looking to explore and you know, we've got so many clients that coming forward in this positive light that I was talking about that literally want to live and they want to explore what they can do with their lives. So it's sort of being aware of the demographic trends, but not making any assumptions when you're speaking to your clients. Absolutely. It's just about understanding your customer and the best way to do that is by listening to them, by speaking to them, understanding their own individual needs and tailoring what you're offering to that specific need. And as we said, we know it's a growing market. Your brand in material, is that aimed at advisors already in the space? Or is that people entering the space? It's everybody, isn't it? It's absolutely everybody. If you're a one man band, you're a brand. If you're a big corporate company with 20 financial advisers, you are a brand. So whoever you are, you need to be living and breathing this brand, you need to be looking at the brand that you currently have and you need to be exploring. If you do you want to grow this business? Do you want to capture more clients? If you do, you absolutely need to be exploring what your brand is, who your brand is. And does it portray the message that you wanted to portray to this market and on that? I mean if someone's already offering this product, what could they do to kind of improve their marketing, I think well, you know, as we've talked about advisors don't have a huge amount of time, they're not marketers themselves. So it's tapping into resources like ours, like this specific brand health check guide, which has at a glance tips on just simple things that they can do to help improve that engagement with their customer base. I think pretty much every advisor in this market could look at this and make at least one small change that would make a difference. And we've got some advisors that are really good at marketing and they are really passionate in this area. But I think that this will still shed a light on areas that they haven't been able to access. And you know, there's other advisers that I've never even thought about the marketing, they don't think about the colors that it represents. And I've said to you as well where there's a lot of advisors that do a lot for the environment and there's a lot of advisors that do a lot for charity and, you know, outside of this financial adviser bubble, you know, they do all these amazing things that they don't bring their customers into that as to who they are. And you know, again, when you're making these purchasing decisions that that gives you, you know, you feel like you can trust this person and that you respect the things that this person does. And you know, again from a personal perspective, I like to deal with companies that are eco friendly and make decisions that are good for the environment and that, you know, that does spread across, you know, all demographics, doesn't it? And it's these little things that you probably already do them, but do you tell your customers that you do them? So how do you spoke a little bit previously about things like end consumer experiences and how that can put customers off, What other issues have you seen about accessibility? Yeah. Accessibility is another really strong theme that came out of the research. So as the company you want as many customers to be able to access your website, not just your website literature, anything that you're putting out there, you want it to get to as many people as possible. And accessibility is an ever increasing issue. So making sure that your materials um can be useful for anyone with impairments with their vision or their hearing or their motor ability in particular for this age group. That's when these kind of issues can start to occur. So it's really important to think about things like in the commentary from people, things like the colors that are a bit too dazzling for their eyes or on websites having buttons, they're a bit too small to see fonts that are too small to read. Um, so it's just about making an inclusive, inclusive experience for everyone. Um and it's something everyone's gonna have to think about going forward. Currently, all public companies have to, by law have a certain standard of accessibility on their websites. And it's only a matter of time before. That's the same for private companies as well. So it's a really good opportunity to kind of start looking at it early and make sure it's fit for purpose. And what examples have you seen of a later life lending friendly brand? It's really just taking into account all the findings from the research. So looking at what's important to these customer groups, some of the themes we've talked about, making sure it sounds, it sounds bad in a way, but making sure you're ticking all those boxes of things that really matter to them. I mean, you mentioned charitable activity and eco friendly for this particular group. It's really high up there on what's important to them and they look for it in the, in the research that they do. We've mentioned, they spend the time doing that and in the last couple of years, social responsibility, so charitable equal friendly work is something that's become so important. That brand view the company I mentioned earlier have actually added social responsibility is one of their tracking metrics as to how they look at how brands of performing just because it has become so important. And yet it's just about making sure that you are treating your customer in whatever way they want to be treated, communicating with them through the channels that are their preference, which isn't specific to this age group. It's just how to treat a customer, isn't it? And if you're doing that then you'll be approachable, You'll be friendly, whatever demographic that you're wanting to work with. We've spoken a lot about the trends. Is the pandemic accelerating these trends. Absolutely. I think certainly the pandemic has really changed perspectives and priorities for a lot of people. What was important to customers two years ago isn't the case anymore. So things like material possessions, status much less important. Now it's things like well being family and friends that are more important to people and the charity piece is a part of that. So making sure not only families alright, but that little bit of giving back the well being of everyone is really important. Um And I think what's really come out of the research is that the brands who have sort of survived the last couple of years, who've done well throughout the pandemic are the ones who have adapted to the ones who have made the effort to change so that they can still meet their customer needs whatever the circumstances. So whether that be a restaurant that's closed but still delivered food to the local community or for us up your retirement, it was about making sure that even though face to face valuations couldn't take place in customers homes. We offered a virtual solutions. So desktop valuations so that customers were still getting access to the funds that they needed. So certainly the pandemic has had a really big impact on, you know, how people are viewing things going forward. Yeah, and I know um something that I found really interesting reading about was the perception of how the business um portrayed themselves during the pandemic has been really important to customers perception. So um businesses that um seemingly try to almost like profit from the pandemic have been damaged by that and then, but those that have gone about it in a caring way and you know, we're going to continue to offer our services, but we're doing in a way that respects what's going on and we're, you know, we're not trying to profit from the negativity, we're simply trying to make things easier for people and I think that's been really important, is that how the way that they've acted through such a massive um pandemic experience, experience has had such a big impact on how you're perceived as a business yourself and on your brand reputation definitely. And then from from an advisor perspective again, the conversations that we've had about adapting and evolving, it's been really important and those that we've seen do really, really well and be able to really offer that level of support to their customers and those that were willing to learn and adapt and evolve the way that they offered their services. So those that were able to do zoom calls um and offer video link conversations or you know, they were advisors that were sitting in the garden at one end of the garden and the client at the other end and just going that extra mile and learning new ways to help their customers, you know, it's it's been fantastic to see those that have, that have been willing to do that and it's had a huge positive effect on their business. And you know, we've seen the way that customers want to engage with with ourselves with brokers. It has changed and clients want options. Clients want different ways of communicating. So just having a website with a phone number doesn't quite cut it anymore. You need to say, you know, here's, here's a phone number, here's an email. We can set up a zoom. We can set up a face to face. You've got options now. And I think it's really important moving forward that you continue to have those, those options and you adapt your business with the clients as they adapt and as they grow. Unfortunately, that is all we've got time for. I'd like thank Patti and Rachel for joining me today. And if you wanted to see the brand guide, you can see that on the link underneath the player and the four piece of research is available on the pure retirement website. Thank you for watching. Mm hmm. Mm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm