The equity release market has come a long way in recent years. Tarnished with a reputation from mis-sold products that plagued the industry 20 years ago, the sector is now growing extremely well as a viable option for homeowners to access their property wealth. Legitimate and transparent lead generation tools are essential for business development in a growing UK financial services sector, and new platforms are helping equity release organisations operate profitably and compliantly. Thomas Brett, Head of Mortgage and Lending at Contact State, explains.
Statistics from the Equity Release Council show that equity release activity climbed 24% YoY in 2021 to a record high of £4.8bn, as homeowners unlocked their highest ever amount of property value. When discussing the latest industry figures David Burrowes, Chairman of the Equity Release Council, commented: “The equity release market’s return to growth has just as much to do with trust and innovation as it does with external factors as households look to manage their finances in later life.”
This “trust and innovation” that has changed opinion on the sector needs to apply to how equity release organisations do business from top to bottom, right down to their lead generation practices.
Tidying equity release lead buying from the outside in – and inside out
Good lead buying is an essential business development exercise for sales and marketing teams in equity release, but to date this practice has been largely unregulated. This is starting to change. In August 2021, the FCA and Google started the process by introducing new verification requirements for search engine ads that lead generation firms had to comply with before being permitted to advertise financial services. Similar social media regulation is expected this year.
The regulatory backdrop is an important start, providing a clear opportunity for equity release organisations to drive revenue from quality lead generation in a rapidly growing sector, but not at the cost of profitability, efficiency and compliance. Here are three key areas where an end-to-end lead generation platform can benefit both equity release lead buyers, and the partners they engage with:
- Lead generation needs to move into real-time mode
For too long equity release lead buying has been a manual and time-consuming process for both lead buyers and sellers. Once an equity release firm has agreed a contract with a new lead-gen provider they may well receive some good initial data based on pre-existing lead details – but over time the quality of those leads can drop off considerably. Leads have also often been traditionally handed off in spreadsheet form or gathered together through aging APIs. This can often mean leads that have been received through a landing page at the time may have gone cold by the time the equity release sales contact is able to begin follow-up.
But there are now lead-gen platforms that integrate both buyer and seller, taking lead follow-up to real-time. Trusted sellers with pre-approved landing pages can be switched on almost straight away and begin passing leads to equity release providers as they come in. No need for complex IT integrations that take weeks and months to get up and running.
- Lead generator and buyer – build a trusted team, set meaningful KPIs
When buying leads, trust can be hard won from both sides, but this integrated approach positively helps relationship building between lead buyer and seller. The dream as an equity release lead buyer would be to build a network of 3-4 trusted lead gen partners that can provide high-quality leads at a regular cadence. A lead generation marketplace allows financial services buyers to build panels of approved lead generators that give them flexibility, scale and options.
The two-way visibility this provides allows for level-setting in terms of lead goals and regular data-driven feedback on what is working and what doesn’t between buyer and seller. Longer-term KPIs can be used to set revenue sharing agreements, as better quality leads will drive increased sales – benefitting both parties.
- Increased compliance oversight
This is one of the driving forces behind Contact State recently launching its Partner Directory, a dedicated private listings platform for lead buyers to connect with innovative, legitimate, and compliant lead generation firms. The directory enables organisations to swiftly review and research the regulatory and financial details of the lead gen providers that can help them achieve their goals.
A promising equity release outlook
The new-look equity release market is enabling consumers to become aware of the flexibility and wide-ranging solutions that will unlock property wealth. As it moves towards a more regulated and compliant future, it will become a growing and valuable sector within UK financial services. Lead generation will play a key role in helping equity release organisations capitalise on market growth –but it needs to be supported by an end-to-end platform to help them confidently, compliantly, and profitably engage with the most trusted lead generation firms.