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How to get the most out of face-to-face trade shows

There is a real feeling of business getting back to normal at the moment across the bridging industry. It’s not just because of the excellent levels of activity we are still seeing, even after that first Stamp Duty holiday has passed, but also because of the return to face-to-face industry events.

Obviously these expos and roadshows weren’t really possible at the height of the pandemic, and while shifting to holding virtual expos was a welcome alternative, I don’t think there’s any question that an online event doesn’t quite match the experience of the real thing.

Of course, we are all a little rusty still, so it can be useful to take a bit of time to consider what you want to get out of attending these events, and how you can go about ensuring they are the best possible use of your time. After all, advisers are busy people and if you’re going to be spending a day away from your desk, you want to make sure you get something out of it.

Start with a plan

There is never any shortage of things to do at industry events, from walking the main floor and visiting the stalls of the various exhibitors to attending panel discussions. There isn’t really a wrong answer here - all of it is going to be worthwhile and provide something that may boost your business.

Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to start with some sort of plan in mind. The timings for the various talks and panels during the show are usually published in advance, so you can go into the event with a rough idea of what you are going to be doing.

It won’t be set in stone of course, but having some sort of outline for your day in advance will help you maximise the benefit you get from attending the event.

Who am I speaking to?

A crucial element of any interaction with a lender is establishing exactly who you are talking with. I don’t just mean asking them for their name, but what their role within the organisation is.

While some lenders will send senior members of their team along to these events, that isn’t always the case. Ultimately, advisers are always going to have a more productive meeting if they spend their time with somebody from the lender who can actually answer their questions meaningfully, or provide some real guidance on what sort of cases they can help with.

If you only have a couple of minutes to speak with a particular lender, then it makes sense to focus on spending that time with someone who is well informed about the area of the market you want to discuss, and can offer you something of value.

What do I need to know?

It can be easy to get swept up in the fun of an event - catching up with old colleagues and peers, or getting distracted by the various freebies on offer from the various stalls. I know plenty of brokers have reached the end of their day at an industry event and realised that they didn’t actually manage to get an answer to the queries they started the day with.

A useful guide here is to take the details of some cases that you are either in the process of placing, or which have proven tricky over the last few months. You can then discuss the specifics with the various lenders you speak with, to get a more practical understanding of who you can turn to when a case may be a little out of the ordinary.

After all, it’s one thing to listen to a lender’s business development manager talk about their criteria and products in general terms, but it’s always going to be more useful for advisers to get a better feeling for how those lenders will handle specific cases.

The mortgage industry is very fortunate, in that across the country a wide range of terrific and informative events are held on a regular basis. These events can make an enormous difference to the way brokers run their businesses, helping them identify new lenders to work with or different areas of the market they might be well suited for. A little bit of preparation work ahead of the event can ensure that brokers get the best possible return from the time spent at the event itself.