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    Insurance | 3 min read

    Using Authentic Communication to Help Identify Your Borrowers’ Needs

    After almost two years of Teams meetings and Zoom calls, we’ve probably all seen elements of our co-workers’ normal lives playing out in the background of their video screens. Seeing a toddler’s hand reach across the screen or a cat trying to jump onto a keyboard while someone is giving a presentation, makes you realize we’re all humans who have a lot going on.

    The humanizing element of getting a small peek into peoples’ world for a moment has me thinking about the importance of authentic connection as it applies to financial institutions identifying and supporting their account holders’ actual needs.

    How often do we spend time with an account holder only to complete their requested transaction? It’s our responsibility as financial service providers to “have a conversation” and determine our borrowers’ other financial needs, especially if that conversation could help solve a real-world problem for them (and, in turn, increase loyalty).

    Building Trust and Loyalty

    Data from the 2020 Financial Trust Index paints a gloomy picture for peoples’ relationship with their financial institutions. It shows a decrease of trust in financial institutions and increased anger with the economy, with only 31.3% public trust in financial institutions.

    How can your institution begin to improve that number while keeping your bottom line in mind? By practicing active listening.

    Borrowers are looking for products that offer value, and everyone wants to feel seen and heard. Listening—truly listening—to your borrower’s situation will help to build the trust and rapport that is so essential to any successful relationship.

    Get to know your borrowers well, because what they say—and don't say—may help you discover what is financially important to them. Listen with your ears AND eyes. Take notes, paraphrase, and clarify to ensure you are listening to them—not just passively hearing what they are saying.

    The Value of Authentic Communication for Your Institution

    Finding out more about what’s really going on in your account holders’ lives can also help you determine if it is appropriate to offer one of your institution’s ancillary products, or send them payment reminders or financial literacy resources to help get ahead of a potential delinquency issue.

    For example, if you learn through an honest conversation with a borrower that they’re struggling to make their mortgage payments, it’s probably not a great idea to remind them that your institution offers financing for a new car. On the other hand, if you learn that your borrower did just purchase a new car, you’ve just identified a great candidate to enroll in a payment protection program.

    Payment protection programs are designed to provide a safety net for unexpected occurrences such as loss of life, disability or sickness, loss of a job, and/or other unforeseen events. There are two types of products: credit insurance and debt cancellation. Both programs help cancel or suspend debt that a borrower owes to a lender. When a borrower chooses to add a program to their loan, it can assist by making monthly payments or paying off the loan in its entirety should one of the previously mentioned unexpected situations occur.

    Additional benefits include keeping the loan current with its payments, reducing delinquencies and foreclosures for both the lender and borrower and ensuring there is one less thing for the family to worry about during a time of emotional stress.

    So, while your institution is able to offer a valuable program, what you are ultimately offering is a product that is truly invaluable to your financial institution and to your borrowers. Should the unfortunate time come when a borrower needs to engage their coverage, or even if they never end up using it at all, they will have the priceless benefit of peace of mind.

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    Joan Cleveland, CLU, ChFC, REBC

    Joan Cleveland, CLU, ChFC, REBC leads SWBC Life Insurance Company as President and CEO. With more than 30 years of experience in the life insurance industry. She holds her Agent licenses for Life, Accident, Health Insurance, and has multiple FINRA securities Licenses. Joan is a frequent industry speaker and media spokesperson. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Consumer Credit Insurance Association, the Texas Association of Life and Health Insurers, as well as the Life Insurers Council. In addition, she is chair of LIMRA’s Strategic Marketing Issues Committee.

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