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"Having an external company gives people more trust in the service"
When Wolverhampton estate agency Thomas Harvey opened its doors more than 50 years ago, mortgages weren’t really part of the equation – estate agents sold houses, and if the customer needed a mortgage they would walk down the high street and make an appointment with the bank manager.
Fast forward to the 2020s, and mortgage advice is everywhere – banks and building societies, financial advisers, mortgage brokers and now even artificial intelligence-powered robo-brokers all vie for customers’ attention; so if estate agents want to dip into this income stream, then they need to offer a service which stands out from the crowd.
Chris Harvey is Office Manager at estate agent Thomas Harvey, and the second generation of his family to serve property sellers and buyers in Wolverhampton, the West Midlands and South Staffordshire. He wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Embrace Financial Services to other estate agents as a way to offer a comprehensive, professional mortgage and financial protection service that is reliable and worry-free.
“It’s important to me that we only work with people who do a good job, and I would certainly recommend Embrace Financial Services. I am happy with the additional income, which has been in line with expectations, but my recommendation has much more to do with being happy with the service that’s provided to our customers,” Chris explains. “We have used people in the past who have taken weeks to come back to the customer, and people just don’t have the patience for that any more.”
Rightly or wrongly, when an agent recommends any service – whether it’s a solicitor or a removal firm – a sub-standard experience will reflect badly on the person who recommended it. Excellent customer service, on the other hand, tends to create a halo effect that increases overall satisfaction. Chris Harvey’s experience is that the situation for buyers looking for a mortgage is becoming more and more complicated, and so the need for a personal, convenient and trustworthy mortgage broking and financial advice service is becoming increasingly important to them.
“Having an external company gives people more trust in the service, as they can see it’s independent,” explains Harvey. “Customers can be quite cynical and sometimes mistrust in-house consultants and their motives, but knowing that Embrace Financial Services is an independent company, with a five-star rating on Trustpilot, helps build up confidence. It’s important the customer has someone trustworthy to go to, especially for first time buyers and the selfemployed, where finding finance isn’t so simple – and that’s much more often the case these days.”
Thomas Harvey’s customers – whether they are in need of a mortgage, income protection plan, critical illness cover or life insurance – are directed to Clare Wootton, one of Embrace Financial Service’s agents based in Telford, whose assistant will line them up with a consultation almost straight away. “It’s a more personal service,” says Chris.
As well as offering a great service to clients, Chris has found that life for agents has also become easier thanks to partnering with Embrace Financial Services. If someone is interested in a property, then a meeting with Embrace Financial Services can quickly furnish them with a mortgage agreement in principle, which shows both the agent and the seller that they are a serious purchaser. “Not all brokers offer this,“ says Chris, “but it’s especially helpful when there are a number of people making offers on a property.”
A close working relationship also cuts down on delays and time-wasting. “It’s important for us to know what’s going on,” says Chris. “We’ve had the experience where some mortgage advisers have only told us selected details – what they think we want to hear – rather than the real situation! With Embrace we know we can speak to someone directly if there are any problems, and the broker will keep things moving along and chasing through to completion.”
The training sessions that Embrace Financial Services has organised for the staff at Thomas Harvey have also been helpful, says Chris. Staff who are used to concentrating solely on property sales can sometimes be nervous in approaching buyers and sellers about their financial needs, and effective training on how to do this a natural, unforced way at an early stage will undoubtedly help to drive sales – and so boost commission – in this area. “The training has given staff the confidence to talk to customers about finance at an earlier stage, even when they first ring up for a viewing,” says Chris. “It has also helped us to talk to people who think they already their finances sorted out, and encourage them to look at all options.”