last updated 25 April 2022

How to Get More Leads by Building Your Mortgage Broker Brand

If you're a mortgage broker or financial adviser, branding plays an important role in building your business and generating more leads.

During one of the live sessions that I run from time to time in my private Facebook group, I interviewed Craig Skelton of CS Financial Group.

Craig and I talked about the importance of personal and business branding, and he explained how and why mortgage brokers who want to grow their businesses should focus on building a strong brand.

Also, Craig shared tips and advice on how to leap into self-employment as a mortgage broker or IFA, and the pros and cons of setting up in business on your own.

Here are just some of the things that you'll learn from this video:

  • What is branding and why it’s important

  • Why you should invest in your branding

  • How branding can build trust and credibility

  • The ups and downs of building your brand

  • The difference between personal branding and business branding

  • How social media platforms boost your brand

  • Tips for building and growing your brand online

  • How branding helps in generating more leads for mortgage brokers and IFAs

A full transcript of the video appears below.

Full Transcript

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's Facebook live event. For those who don't know me, my name is David Miles from a company called The PPC Machine. I'm on a mission to help mortgage brokers and financial advisors just like you to develop their own online lead generation systems, so as you never, again, have to worry about where your next client's coming from, and you've got a predictable pipeline of new business. One of the ways I do that is I run this Facebook group where I share useful advice and information. I do occasional guest interviews with interesting guests who can help you get more from your business as well. I have one such guest with me here today, his name is Craig Skelton of CS Financial Group. Hello, Craig. Thanks for being with us today.

No problem. Thanks for that introduction, David. I need to keep that interesting than now. Thanks for setting me up with that one. Thank you.

That's your challenge for the next half an hour. Great and interesting at all times. Then, the key thing I'm gonna be talking with Craig about today is branding and how to build a brand that can help you get more leads coming into your financial services business. More of that in a moment, just in terms of housekeeping, as we go through in fact do say hello in the comments and if you've got any questions as we go through, pop those into the comments. The same if you're watching this on the replay and then put your questions in the comments. 

Obviously, if you put them on live, I will feed those through to Craig as we go along or at the end of the session. If you're watching us on the replay and put a question in, then the two of us will keep an eye on this over the next few days and dive in and answer, anything that may come up. Yeah. Great. Welcome to the group. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into financial services? Was it something you'd always dreamed of doing as a boy or did you, did you stumble into it like so many people

I think stumble is the right word, David. First of all, thank you very much for the environment being I guess on today's show. I really appreciate sort of the invite. It was a stumble into financial services. It wasn't a sort of thought myself that I wanted to get into financial services. It's not something I ever dreamed about doing. It was a stumble into it. To be honest with you. My background was I was in the travel industry when I was younger because it was just a great way or cheap way of seeing the world. I did that for a few years and it was around about 2000 or 2001.

When you say you worked in the travel industry, is this a polite saying you're a Club 18-30 rep or something?

Well, to be honest with you, no, it wasn't. Although I have been asked that same thing before. No, I wasn't. I enjoyed the 18 to 30 holidays. Trust me. I did because we used to get them free of charge when I used to work in a travel agency. It was a retail high street travel agency. I had enjoyed that life and went online a little bit when the.com came out. It was online in terms of the travel industry as well. I just could see the travel industry sort of changing a lot in terms of, they didn't need people to book holidays and things like that. The high street agent was dead. Then I just needed to look at doing something else and it was just stumbled into financial service.

I think that's what we will come on to. But one thing that I never had any experience of financial services and never dreamt to be in financial services, not qualified. Then went straight into being a branch manager of a retail bank, a high street bank. That stuck with me. Well forever, really because when I went through the interview process and when I was recruited, I was up against other candidates that had been in the branch, had been their way up and things like that. But the actual to a person, the regional manager that recruited me gave me a chance. I had nothing, I had no experience. I just had me, my personality, my ability, and that's what he gave me a shot. I think that's sort of why I still now continue. I've always recruited and experienced people.

I do recruit experienced people, but most of the people that join my firm and the things that I do are generally inexperienced who want that break or want that just that chance into the financial services. that sort of stuck with me. Somebody gave me a break and I will always honour that in terms of what I do. I will always continue to recruit experience.

You'll never see an advert for CS financial group. You must have two years experience. I would never dream of doing that because I think it's always about talent. That's how I got into financial services. The high street bank then moved into mortgage services within the high street bank. Run a team of mortgage advisors across the country with that same bank. Then I sort of a bit of a crossroads really thought to myself, I could continue doing this work my way up.

I think about the problem. What I had that looking back was there was a lot of blocks, hours working, blood, sweat and tears to prove that I was worth it because all these other managers and the team that I was working with had been doing it for a long time. Then, I was putting the extra shift in working hard. I just like looked at that and thought all these other managers and people that are my peers, we're all paid exactly the same. We always all get the same bonus. We do get these sort of same benefits, but I'm the one that sat here on a Saturday afternoon. I'm the one that sat here after five o'clock at night. I just thought to myself need to get a better rate of return.

Shall we say from putting the shifting and the hard work that I was doing, I then moved into an estate agency for mortgage services. Then, I was in charge of mortgage brokers at the bank, moved into the estate agency and became a mortgage broker. We doing a bit of mortgage broker part-time employed. Then I was at the same time out a team, a small team of advisors, 2006 or 2007. Then that's, I would say fundamentally, my main background is the state agency mortgage services. 

Then four years ago, summer, I'd had enough of the corporate way. I had enough of the corporate life. I don’t know if you got to call it a midlife crisis, I'm not quite sure, but I just had enough of the bull term with, the buildup, shall we say.

The promises and I just thought to myself that  I'm just gonna set myself be in charge of my own destiny. Look after me, I was at this time managing a team of sort of 14 to 15 mortgage advisors. Well thought of the great salary, commission and team that I had and, you know what? I just throw all that away and go self-employed. No income and go for the insecurity rather than the security.

That's sort of where this brand started with CS Mortgage Solutions. Then, we've got two other brands as well with CS Retirement Solutions and CS Wealth Solutions. That came along. That was a natural progression that I knew wanted to happen. Then we changed the business to CS Financial Group. That's like one of the things, and then I've got another business model as well, which we'll let no doubt talk about, but that's been my sort of a whistle-stop career over the last many years. I'm not gonna think too many years. 

I'm sure people are watching this who can identify with that thing of I've got a perfectly decent job here. I'm earning all that money. Suddenly, I'm gonna chuck all that away because that's not risky and exciting enough for me. I'm gonna go become self-employed. I mean, I'm sure it hasn't all been a plain sight, but overall, any sort of regrets, do you ever look back wistfully on those days when there was a regular paycheck coming in?

Not, not at all. I would never ever look back. I regret of course. I think you will always have regrets. I think not meaningful regrets. You'll always think I'll always learn from the mistakes. I would say that there are certain mistakes that I've made throughout my career and I've made some, how's being self-employed and setting my firm up. But I think it's just as long as you learn from them.

I think the thing you have to understand going self-employed, you’re gonna made mistakes. Nobody is sitting there telling you what to do day in and day out. No micromanagement ringing you in the morning asking what you are doing today. Ringing your lunchtime asking what have you done so far. What have you done tonight? Like it's just, there's none of that.

It was very much unstructured at the time. Just learning and I think that I wouldn't change the thing. I think because of the way that I'm in my head and what decided at the time and full enough, one of the advisors who work in the sales mortgage solutions in the brand, I into him recently and he said the same thing, which I wasn't prompted at all. He said, when I went to look to go self-employed, I thought to myself, what's the worst can happen. I can go back to selling radiators and like sort of all like what that's, where he came from. That was my opinion. Like and it always has been that four and a half years ago. I thought to myself, well, what's the worst gonna happen?

I'll give it a go. I give it a shot. I'll give it my hardest to make it work. I won't be afraid. I'm not afraid of hard work and putting, shifting I'll make it work. If the worst happens and it doesn't work and I still have that mindset now. To be honest with you, thinking to myself if the worst happened to I woke up tomorrow and this's financial group was no more and it whatever had happened to it and just thought, well, I gave it a go. I gave it a shot. I made it work. I didn't make it work. I made mistakes. I didn't make mistakes. It's just, I'll find something else because nobody will ever take it away from me. My head, brain, mouth, ears and eyes. That's it. You just up to think about, okay, that's fine. You move on. I think it's how quickly you adapt to the situation and then find something else. 

Yeah. I mean, in terms of me, you're definitely preaching to the choir because I've been funding my own businesses since I was 20. I barely know any other way, but whether I do something maybe, would I have done it differently? Probably not actually. Since I think you not everything goes right, but you learn as much, if not more from the things that don't go right. 

As you do from the things that go well. Also, as you say what's the worst that can happen. You go back and you work for someone else again and potentially become a better employee because you've learned a whole stack of stuff at a time when you were self-employed that you would never be learnt just working for someone else. I know it is a thing from talking to people in this group and in my coaching program. I know it is seen as a big leap by a lot of people, but  I always say,  I'm biased because I don't really know anything else, but it's a leap that I would take.

I think one regret that I have is that I didn't do it sooner. I'm very like you in your situation thinking that you were self-employed in your earlier career, then I'm jealous of that because I wish I'd have done this. Years have gone most like most mortgage brokers that I know say I wish should've done this before. I wish I'd gone self-employed before, but it's about time and I talk a lot about that. It's always gone with the right time for you really. 

I think what holds a lot of people back from it isn't when they're at that stage of life where they've got young kids or we're just starting a family or whatever. It's not just about them anymore, is it? I think you do find a lot of people, who make that leap either quite early on before they've got all that responsibility and stuff or, it happens once the kids are a bit older and leaving home. I think now I can do that. They hit a certain age. I've just got absolutely fed up working for other people. 

I think that's, probably's more, the older you get probably more fed working for other people. 

Yeah. Start your own business or go have a fair and buy a porch.

Well, fortunately, I would take the porch but I think I buy a business. That's the choice I made.

Then, we should talk a bit about branding. That's the topic of it. I often think about branding and I hear these from other people as well. I think branding sometimes gets a wrong reputation or gets a bad name, which I'm I think isn't it. Although, branding is often seen as the kind of thing that is just the preserve of big companies. Companies, whether it's big financial companies like BAR or HSBC or whatever. They can do branding. It's a luxury. it's a thing that costs a lot of money. It's often seen as, as a bit points. 

I often remember actually something that sticks me from my childhood is watching a news report where BP, as in the petrol company, this was made the news, had rebranded. They'd spent gazillions on this rebrand. All that happened was their BP logo had gone from vertical letters to italic and they were saying a match spend on it. 

Obviously how people were ridiculing it. I think often people brand and that kind of light, but it's just about fancy logos. It's big corporates do when they've got more money than sent. How does it apply? Do you think to the kind of people we've watched this smaller business? One man bands upwards, and why is it important for them as well?

I think, first of all, to understand it is important, I think the big boys invest in it because it works for them. Branding does work. Then, if they're sort of spending and investing billions on branding, it clearly works. But you just talk about looking at doing it from a more local scale. I think that's the thing, what you've got to look at because the thing is with branding, it's yours. Nobody can ever take that away from you. 

I think as a firm we work with people like introduces the stage agents we work with and things like that. But for me, the point of the business was always about our own brand in our own growth from a brand point of view. I think it is important. You just have to look at it from a scaling point of view. Thinking, well, where do I start with that?

I think the big thing that people seem to miss sometimes is that the branding is about you. It's you. It's your personality. That's the person that's out there. Your brand is your core values, reputation, personality or whatever you wanna call it. 

I think sometimes people are a bit shy of sort of promoting their own brand because thinking, that they can't. They can't go there onto Facebook every day. Be my friends will be sort of thinking that it's them again, pushing mortgages on me and things like that. But you have to treat it from a business point of view because you've invested in your brand. After all, that's something that can never, ever be taken away from you. You're looking to build your brand over a consistent period. I think that's the thing with branding is because it's yours. You've got to own it.

I think you have to make sure that you are building a brand that is you. Sometimes people talk about and someone says to me in terms of, well, I've got what my mortgage advisor hat on and this kind of person. When in the real world that's not. I'm not saying that's wrong whatsoever, but with me, I am who I am. I don't have this sort of hat of Craig Skelton, CS Financial Group. This is like who I am. This is how I like to portray myself at home, work, friends and people that I don't know because people see you and relate to you in terms of your personal brand. If they see you as this is Craig Skelton, the person and the friend, then you are totally different on a video, interview or something like that.

People like, hang on. I'm not quite sure who that person is kind of thing. I know Craig Skelton, the friend, but I don't know who that is. I think that's the thing with it. Sometimes it's about being you and getting across your core values because around all the branding. All you're looking to do with a customer and with a potential customer is build up trust with them. That's the whole thing with this, with the brand. Everything that wraps around everything that we do with our brand. The advisor and firm, it's all about trust and reputation. I think that's something you've got to be. You've got really patient with it because you're not gonna wake up today. All of a sudden have 5,000 followers on in-store. You've got this big branding, You've got loads of referrals and things like that coming in.

It takes time. But with that, people buy from them. There is a hundred and let's look at the large corporates of the banks or the large corporate sort of mortgage business. Mortgage firms that are out there. You don't actually see the person that's gonna come and see you. You don't actually see. You don't buy into them before your appointment. You don't know who they are. 

They're just gonna turn up or you're gonna go into the branch and visit them. Whereas if they've seen you, when you're talking about things that are mortgage-related, giving them information and answering any questions they have. Without them really having any questions will just help build your brand. I think at the beginning, the first two years, certainly with a brand there's a lot of investment with very low return, whereas the balance does shift it. Trust me, it does shift.

We've got that now with our brand. But four years ago when I set this up, when I started the brand, we had to work on introduces. We did buy leads in and it didn't work. It did work and things that we did all. I've done all the things that we all looked to do it. Then at the same time, I understood that I needed to work on my brand to then build that brand up because you've got that shift. Well, you're not relying on anybody else anymore. You were self-reliant and that's a fantastic place to be. You will get to that point, but you've got a lot of investment today to put in before you actually get that brand.

It's very much we're talking about the personal brand. That's the difference, isn't it? But it's about the individual letting your personality come through. It's something I talk about a lot with the brokers that I'm dealing with. I think it's important. It's particularly important when you are a sole trader or there are just a couple of you in the business because that is who the client will be dealing with. I think also in financial services. Particularly important because when you think about you need that trust because people are gonna be disgusting with all their finances. They're probably telling you things that they wouldn't tell their mates, or probably in some cases don't tell their other half

Exactly. Yeah. You would get that David.

Then, the more you can do and perhaps this term use a personal brand, maybe that makes it sound more com when it is. Because actually all it really is. It's about putting your personality out there. Letting people get to know and trust you. Doing that stuff about, and you mentioned about friends seeing on Facebook. Probably if my friends saw me doing this kind on Facebook they may say “Oh, what are you doing that for?” Because all my friends work for other people and they've all got those kinds of jobs.

But I said, well, they're not my audience anyway. I know who my audience is and I know my audience is on here watching this kind of stuff. I would say to anyone if you've got that kind of fear of being on camera. I don't wanna be on Facebook because my mates will laugh at me. Your mates probably aren't gonna be watching because they're not your audience. Maybe if they are laughing at you all the time, actually some better mates, but anyway, it's you. Then, what I'm intrigued by is obviously in your situation, you've got a firm with how many advisors?

17 mortgage advisors. Yeah.

How does branding work for you guys? Do you encourage each individual advisor to sort of developing their own brand within your overall corporate brand? Is that how that works?

It just going back and that's a great point. Because going back to what I just sort of said before is in terms of business, we get business from the advisors, self-generating their own business. We then do it from the business brand. The advisor got their own brand. Got the business brand and then we work with introducers. Then, it is when we look at the pivotal shift. 

When we first started, it was very much self-generated by the advisors. The introducers are like introducing with the forefront. That's where we got most of our business from right at the beginning. But for me, we work with some great introducers. Absolutely but there are some introducers out there that you wouldn't wanna work with. You work hard to get those relationships. I've learned those things that we've worked hard to get relationships with these introducers.

Even though you're doing a great job servicing and doing things like that, just because somebody else offers them 5% more or 10% more on the commission split, they'll just drop you like that. For me, I wasn't in control of that. That's something that I didn't have sort of control whereas my own brand did and the advisors' brand themselves do as well. 

I do really do push the advisor a little bit in terms of doing their own social media and doing their own content. We do content as a business. We've got social media posts that are already written with content on there that they can then post themselves. If they are lazy, they can't bother today. They'll just sort of post something about that. The big thing for me is also about review. Then, we work with Trustpilot on reviews.

We work with Trustpilot from the start and I pushed the advisors in the firm. What I like in terms of Trustpilot reviews is because that builds your brand. It's the whole thing. When the reviews come in and I share them with the advisors., I push them to then make it easier for them to get a review. 

I'll make sure they're doing the reviews and they get the reviews in. I'll create the artwork for them, send it over to them and then they'll just post it on their social media. Then, I do really promote and want to work with the advisors to help them with their own social media and what they're doing, because it will benefit the business. They'll be self-generating their business, which is better for them because we're not gonna talk about like figures and things like that, but they earn more money. If they've self-generated a client then they would if I've generated it, that's just how the business is.

Then, they're kind of amplifying the main brand, aren't they?

Absolutely.

Well, because if you take the social media, you've got the core of content you are producing as a business, which they can fall back on, but hopefully, they're adding some of their own personal stuff in with that as well or taking stuff you've created and put their own spin on it. Exactly. I mean, it's a similar thing I did in a coaching call with my membership group earlier today. We talked about social media and one of the guys said he gets stuff. 

He's an AR network. He gets stuff sent to him by the network, but he can use it as is. Then I said, “Well, that's great.” But even better take that reword into your own words. Your own personality and tone of voice come through on it rather than just churning out the same thing that everyone else in the network is doing. That's all about building a personal brand as well. It is really taking someone else has given you and building your overlaying and personal brand on top of it.

It is. I think what we do is we have a business logo. CS Mortgage Solutions has a logo, but then I create a logo for every advisor. It's got the same font and the same red roof on kind of thing. But then they use that on social media. It's still helping with my branding because it's got the font and the roof on there. Then at the same time, it's helping with them because it looks like it is let’s say, David Miles's Mortgage Solutions. They choose what they want on there because I do push them. I guess with advisors it's about, sometimes it can be very difficult because it's like, well, what do I create? Or what do I do?

I don't wanna be out of my comfort zone in front of the camera or doing something like that. I think it's just kind of flip it back to them. I think it is sort of I step out of my comfort zone every day. Like four years ago, I wouldn't have done anything like this. I wouldn't be inside in front of doing anything like this before. I think it's trying to encourage their advisors to step out of their comfort zone, doing a video for the first time to talk about remortgages. Doing a quick, short, or doing something on some platform as social media. It's like, oh my God, I don't wanna do it. it is a little bit of pushing, but I think at some sort of point, we've all been like four and a half years ago.

I was new out, running a business, advising the firm two years ago, six months ago, five years ago was new at mortgage broken. They had to out of their comfort zone. Then they didn't know what to do and how to do it. Well, that's just the next level you've got.  What you're doing now as a mortgage broker? Well, that's all well and good, but we now need to push you again out of that. Outside the circle and break that barrier up a bit. 

Let's just do start to do your social media a bit. I'm doing social media content. Now when I'm doing it every three times a week; Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I think that’s okay. Well do personal stuff now and push it. You just gotta keep pushing it all the time then, because it goes back to the point like you said, and like it's about the personality.

People see you talking about mortgages. The chances are 90% of your audience right now will not need a mortgage. They won't wanna talk to you about mortgages actually when they do need. If you're answering the questions they've got in the back of their mind when they do need a mortgage. Subconsciously, they think David's on all the time about it's being posed about help answering questions about remortgaging. He's been asking questions about what buy lots are like, and things like that. I think then they just buy to you as a person. I think sort of works where sometimes mortgage brokers haven't got the patience with it.

I remember I was I spent a while as a non-executive on the board of an insurance company. The thing we always said there was we might have this potential pool of X number of clients or policyholders. But in any given month, there are only so many you can sell to because, in any given month, 11, 12 of them will not have a renewal in that month. However brilliant you are, you are not gonna sell to the end. What you can do is make sure that you are getting yourself embedded in their consciousness. Three or four months down line, when they are coming up to renewal, they don't go searching somewhere. They just go back to you and whether that's a company or an individual, that's what this is all about, isn't it?

I mean one thing I was gonna ask you before we moved on to other things as if someone's watching this now and they're a fairly new mortgage broker just gone self-employed, left a company or actually even if they've been running their own business for a few years, but never given any thought to branding and stuff What would be your top, let’s say three tips that you would say right before you do anything else as soon as possible, do these things to get branding underway?

The first thing that we did was review. I think that was the big thing for us. I set up straight to where Trustpilot reviews. That was the big thing. Whether you're Trustpilot, like we start using out the free version, that got us so far. When you can then obviously pay for things like that. I think that's the reviews are certainly one thing. I think that also be consistent as well. 

Sort of build thinking about this is what I'm gonna do to build my brand and then two weeks in, you know what? I've got loads of clients now. I'll forget doing that and I'm not doing that. Then, that's where you see the rollercoaster. I'm not that sort of moving off point a lot, a little bit, but basically, that's where you get the rollercoaster and the advisors of where they'll do the content.

They'll do the social media and brand. It then works. They get clients and leads. They're then too busy. Then, you've got more clients, but then the brand drops. They stopped doing that. Then all of a sudden they've dealt with those classes. Now they've moved on, but then I've got a new class now. Then they pick up the content they get in the brand and they just go through that rollercoaster. I'd say, so make sure that in terms of like do your reviews. 

Make sure you are consistent with what you're doing and don't let that fail. If you are setting your store out of every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or whatever the days are, it is just may stick to that and just give clarity as well. I think that's the thing with the brand is just to be clear in who you are and what you are talking about. Just try not to be sort of wall the show we say.

Yeah, definitely. I would agree. I would certainly agree with both those things, the reviews and consistency. The reviews are such an easy one to do a lot of the time. It's just often the only thing that stops people from having reviews on Trustpilot or Google. They haven't actually asked. 

There was a guy. I did a whole coaching session on reviews with my group a few months ago. One of the guys in there took one tip from that. Implement it 24 hours later and extra 86 reviews on Google and Facebook. It's not rocket science. Maybe you have to do it and be consistent with it. It does make a huge difference. 

Definitely. 

Also, you mentioned earlier, you've got this other side of the business that helps people with this kind of stuff. What are the ways that you help people who want sort of grow their brand like this?

Well, there are two business models. We have like the CS Mortgage Solutions brand where you've got that tends to be inexperienced advisors looking to be part of a team. Part of that 17 advisors that we have within that. They work very well together. I'm very lucky that within that part of the business as I said, the advisors support each other in terms of help with the cry team and stuff like that. I'm very lucky that way with that. The other part of the thing is where it's then more of the programs called “My Brand, My Way”, which is more of helping advisors who are experienced looking to set their own firm up and own brand and just work with them. Because like I said, by the beginning, I've made a lot of mistakes over the last.

I made some good decisions, but then I've made mistakes. What I'm trying to do is I'm working with advisors of our experience, who know where their clients are gonna come from, per se, they built up a good sort of client network, shall we say, but they wanted and being in charge of their own brand and their own sort of where they're going with that. They want to grow that as well. That's the other part of the business is where like under my brand and my way. It's not supporting where you get your leads from things like that. It's helping them because when you go to network for the first time, they'll talk a lot about the support, but fundamentally I didn't get any I'm part of openwork. I've got nothing against up work. They've been great for me in terms of the way that I work with them.

When I first started out, I said, this is what you need to do or this way, there's none of that. That's what I'm trying to do with the people that are looking to move on. Employed to self-employed with these people more on a one to one and helping them sort of build their own brands. Working with them on more of a local level and helping them with that and learning from the mistakes I met. What I'm trying to do is accelerate their brand quicker with the wins I've had and show the wins I've had.

A coaching mentoring kind of set.

Exactly. It's more of a coaching thing because I think what people don't realize is everybody needs coaches, whether I've got a branding coach. I like from my own brand point of view, Craig Skelton, and I've got my own branding coach. I think you need that kind of thing because then they'll keep it fresh. Keep you motivated and feel as though you support and point you in the right direction. Yes. Ultimately I'm responsible for me, my brand and where it's going, but with the course that I work with helps me develop that. That's a similar sort of thing with this because what I found was when somebody goes the leap of being from employed to self-employed, there's a lot of overpromising and underdelivering with regards to networks and firms.

Whereas it really sorts of saddened me because I think that overpromising and underdelivering is a big problem that I have when I say things like I'm sort of saying now. I've seen a sort of advisor the other day who worked hard to get a CMA she wanted. This was a life-changing career for her. She wanted all that. She's just fallen into the wrong firm and now she's leaving as a mortgage broker. Maybe she was not the right person to be a mortgage broker in the first place, then fair enough. These people have worked so hard, studied and a lot of commitment to then just fall at the first hurdle and thing, because they've not found the right firm, environment or network to where to work with.

That's where I'm very much a person that I treat everybody how gonna be myself. That's how I am. I'm I don't have any egos. There's like I wear my heart sleeve and I am who I am. I think that's the thing with it, where there's a lot of firms out there that are very corporate. Even though they're not corporate and they are firms, they're still running a corporate way. I quickly realize that when I set up my business, so the original CS Mortgage Solutions is a brand because I was corporate through and through for so many years. Then it then takes a little while to set those corporate shackles off. 

I know myself that Craig, you corporate what you doing that for kind of thing. That's what I'm trying to do. I see a lot of advice out there that fall the first hurdle because they've not got their help and support when they want to go on their own. That's a big thing. It's like they've taken so much time and commitment to do that. They need to feel supported, trained and actually feel that somebody, even if it's just somebody to listen to and just bend against off time.

I never run a business that I ever worked on my own. That's what we said before. That's a big leap. I think the thing I often hear brokers say to me is I spent all this time training, passing my C map. I know everything there is to know about mortgages. I've just realized I know nothing about running a business marketing, lead generation branding in your case. It's all about as unknown things. 

I don't think it's unique to financial services. I think it happens in a lot of industries. I don’t know, people go, pass the exams and become a personal trainer or something. Then they suddenly realize, well, I've now enough to train people, but I've got no clients. How do I market that business? There's a lot of things where there's an industry set up to train somebody in the skills to do a particular job, but they don't focus on how to, how to get the clients from it to do it.

Definitely. I think that's about it from a wider perspective. I think you're absolutely right. It's not just a financial services thing. I always sort of talk about like people's opinions. Like people telling you what to do and telling you what you should be doing. It will always benefit them rather than you and that sort of thing. I'm always aware that's why I will never tell anybody what to do or what they should choose to do in life or things like that. 

But it goes back to the fact that I say,  advisors like nobody tells me what to do. Why sometimes she thinks she can’t but we do. Nobody tells me what decision to make with my firm and what I wanna do today. I think I run the firm that very same way, whether you are under my brand, way, business model or from within the sales mortgage solutions.

It's your life and it's your choice. I don't tell you what to do. I'm just there to help and support you when you need that conversation. That tends to be people sometimes just having a runt that the bar's application is a longwinded process. It's absolute nightmare and the systems and creating things like that. I'll just listen to them. Invented or something about which like they'll vent about that. Then there'll be frustration or a sister, whatever the case may be, but then they'll vent with me. I'd rather talk than vent with me and then they'll just move on. Right. Okay. Thanks.  Now, I'll crack on.

Nothing else, if I know it's not your same, you go, “Oh yeah, you are the person this week moaned about this application process or whatever.” At least they know they're not doing something wrong.

Exactly. I think the thing is as well because nobody knows, if you're a sole trader running your own firm and you've got good support, like with your family, partner and things like that behind you, they don't really know what it's like to be a mortgage broker. They don't unless they're a broker themselves. Nobody knows how good and bad being a mortgage broker can be in terms of emotion. You need somebody it's okay. Talking to your partner.

But if they don't understand, you don't get your full fulfilment of the run out of the way kind of thing. Because you're thinking I'm talking to the young girl what I'm talking about, whereas if you feel as though you can get off and then just move on. I think that's the thing you feel you need to do. Sometimes it just has a vent in a rant and then fine. I've done that now. Yeah. Pick my pipeline up back and get progressing again, or get our first appointment and booked in or whatever the case may be.

Yeah, definitely. There was one thing we, we came up with that really interesting thing before we went on air, didn't we? That we said, we must make sure we talk about that.

I've got posted and downloaded it as well in case.

It was, well, you can tell me this is parallel, wasn't it? How does exposure to your brand before someone comes to work for you have parallels with how someone is a better client? If they have had exposure to your brand before you first talked to them, wasn't it?

Yeah, definitely. To be honest with you, it wasn't until you said the similarities and the parallel with it. I thought absolutely. Right. I never thought of it that way. Basically, I recruit advisors from a firm point of view. People will contact me through the 10 and are inexperienced and will filter into the CS mortgage solutions model, which is I'll help you with your brand. 

I'll help you with everything you do. We get business leads. I do a lot of like organic stuff and things like that from a brand point of view. We work very much with that. The advisors will connect in inexperience generally. There are two people recruited within the firm. One is through social media, LinkedIn,  message or sort of Googling mortgage brokers in their area.

Thinking about on message. I'm looking to get into this and this is what I'm looking to do. There's another way, which is through openwork, the network. Somebody could go onto the openwork website, Let’s say they wanna be a mortgage broker, fill in a form, go to the recruitment team and I've got a good relationship with the recruitment team or openwork. 

Then, they filter out and they'll send me that candidate. They'll become part of CS Mortgage Solutions. These recruited that way, which is not they've not seen my brand again. They don't know who's just gone to openwork. They may say that they want to be a mortgage broker openwork, but that's fine. One of the firms will give you a call and that's how it works. Like we were just talking before of that.

I've had a couple of people leaving the firm recently and reviewing them. Looking back on it, as I was doing in terms of reflection. It was those people that have left and come in from an openwork recruitment point of view. I thought they wanted to be a mortgage broker. I contacted open work, fill the foreman, never talked to me, never seen me, don't know anything about the firm, the culture, anything like that. They've not bought into the videos. I pose all these different things about it. They're the ones that have come in. They're the ones that have sort of fairly quickly. Don't get me wrong. I've still got advisors that have come through the openwork route and are still here now and turned out to be very good and amazing advisors within the business.

But with the people that have lost. Come into that route, not the route that bought into me in the branding like what he talked about was the similarities of you're buying leads in. You've gone to unbiased. As an example, you buy a lead from unbiased. When you call them, they don't know who you are. There's no personality, there's no trust. There's no nothing. It's a similar sort of thing with regards to the candidate coming from, or the potential mortgage broker coming through openwork. Whereas you tend to be more successful with the people that approach your direct buy into your brand, what you can do, help, support, and really see more of a partnership kind thing as we are then building that way. It was a really interesting parallel and not something I thought about until.

Now that you were saying about the difference in the recruits and how they come in. I was saying, that's exactly like the conversation I have with mortgage brokers out the leads you get from unbiased or any other lead generator. Even if it costs you the same amount of money as to generate your own through something like Google ads. 

The Google ads ones gonna be better quality because even if all they've done is click your ad, be to your website. It has some exposure to your brand beforehand. They know that it's you who is gonna be contact them and who the firm is. Obviously, if they've had even more stuff like they've seen your social media stuff, they've read your reviews and all that even better. But I think it's the same in every business, really.

If I get someone ringing me up out of the blue and saying, “Can you quote me to run some Google ads for me?” I know that almost certainly that's gonna go nowhere because they're just shopping on price. They don't know anything about me, how I work, whatever. Whereas someone who's been on my main list for a while, received emails, watched YouTube videos and stuff. I'd far rather talk to them cause they understand what I'm about and what the value is and stuff and yeah. That’s exactly, it's all brand, isn't it?

Exactly. It goes on into terms of what you talked about there, David. Even more, because one of the things, I know mortgage brokers is particularly when they're starting out talk about his broker fees. That's one big thing as well. When you look at it, in that context, if somebody's just shopping around, as you said, you, you're not gonna be the cheapest. You're not the most expensive, it's about what you do and how you're gonna help them. But if they're looking at what broker feed to charge or what are you gonna cost, what's it gonna cost per month? 

They're just going on what is the cheapest. Then that's the same with and unbiasedly, okay, well how much are you gonna charge me? It's gonna be this. Okay, well I can get it for this, but do you want to know what I'm gonna do for that point? 

Yeah. What is it you're gonna get for this? Yeah.

Exactly. Whereas if they've seen you in your brand. You've talked about, educated, answered questions and they've seen your personality and things like that. I know we talked recently about one thing that I very rarely do if at all, is post anything personal on social media or on LinkedIn and stuff like that. It's just not something I've ever done, but we had a bit of a conversation about that. It's okay now, and again.

On Craig's podcast which is well worth to listen. Podcast, which is all part of your brand building.

Yeah, it is. That's exactly why it is just purely brand building. I've got the podcast of which was the first one, which was mortgages money at more, which is business to consumer. It's answering questions about mortgages. Obviously, we've got a retirement investment, like the investment pension brand as well and equity release is what we do. We just answer questions on there, with or without guests. Then, that's like a business to consumer. Whereas, the podcast, obviously, that you as kindly just to be a guest on is more of business like me to a mortgage broker point of view and looking at that kind of thing. But yeah, you're absolutely right. 

That it was on there. I think that was when you talked about it. It was something that you clearly said. I understood that it was something that was okay to do and it's not something I chose to do, but it's okay now. Again, it was the cakes at the school. I think like that we talked about just posting the top personal stuff as well on there.

We talked about it was Suzanne's Ice Creams. 

Yeah. That was it.

If Suzanne’s, the second plug, a couple of weeks, your ice cream delivery to the school,

But that's it. That's personal. That's the game to know you and who you are. 

But look how it's stuck in my mind that proves the point, doesn't it?

Exactly. I'm sorry, what it's stuck in my mind? I'm sorry. I didn't get the cakes right in the eyes. I deal with that but that's the thing, it's okay to show your sort of the personal side of things and that is, again, if people have seen your personal side and what you're doing. If they then call you up and they sort of say, right, yeah, myography is eggs. They're not gonna go and ask if you can do it cheaper. No, you've contacted me… 

All these things. They break the ice sent me. Ross, in my coaching call I did earlier on. We were talking about social media and he said he had someone bring him up recently. I said, oh yeah, I know you. I saw that picture of your kids in the back of the car, messing about whatever it was. That was like, you felt on social media. 

Again, it just breaks the ice and CR, starts that rapport building. I think the message I'm taking away from is, I think probably people watching, hopefully, what as well is when you think about branding. Don't think of branding as logos of big corporates. The kind of stuff that Coca-Cola, Apple and whatever we're doing. Branding in this context for you as small business owners, mortgage brokers, IFAs, whatever it's about getting your own personality to be the thing that your business is built on.

Yeah. 

That's not what big businesses normally do, but the exception of maybe things like Richard Branson of Virgin Group was very much. He would play the first person really in a big business to do personal branding. As a small business owner, it's about getting yourself out there. It's about doing those things that push you outside your comfort zone. Get on YouTube, start a podcast and do those kinds of things. That's what will help get you more leads, cement the relationships with ones that you have definitely with coming to the end. Craig, if people want to know more where can we get you, like the podcast, where else can we find you? We can put links to all this stuff in the notes and everything.

Yeah. The podcast is the Mortgage Broker Broadcast. It is out there every single week. That's out every Wednesday morning. I'm also on YouTube. I've got a YouTube channel, Craig Skelton UK because there's another Craig. I couldn't get the Craig Skelton brand as Craig Skelton.com is a mixed martial artist, American Craig Skelton. 

Then, I couldn't quite get away with the brand of doing that kind of thing. I've got a YouTube channel, just help just trying to look at helping people answer their questions from a mortgage broker's point of view. Linkedin is just general. Our people find me, which is Craig Skelton. Then, you should find me with Craig Skelton on LinkedIn. I'll send you all the links in there, but yeah. Just reach out if you, honestly,  I'm always got time people just to talk, listen and just sort of see where people's heads are. Just offer help and support and advice.

Because again, that's good for my break. Like goes, flips on its head in terms of I'm answering questions that mortgage wants to understand. I'd say it's good for my own brand, but people message me saying thanks for doing the videos to help me get into it. It's not that I've not gained a client on that basis, but they've chosen to go into the mortgage book and they know who I am. 

Then you never know I'm very much and never been in bridges. You never know in this industry how and when your pass will cross and guarantee your pass cross again. I'm very much open to talking to people, any kind of questions, any person like honestly, absolutely fine in terms of contact and reaching out.

Fantastic. Well, I thank you for giving out your time today and sharing all that advice and information. I'm sure it's been very valuable to people. It's been fantastic chatting with you as always. Yeah, if you are someone watching this on the replay and you've got any questions, put comments. Craig's a member of the Facebook groups. He'll be able to answer stuff as well. Thank you very much everyone for joining us and see you next time. Thank you very much, everyone. Thank you, Craig.

Thank you very much.

Thank you. Bye.

  • "I think the big thing that people seem to miss sometimes is that the branding is about you. It's you. It's your personality. That's the person that's out there. Your brand is your core values, reputation, personality or whatever you wanna call it." - Craig Skelton
  • "I think the thing you have to understand going self-employed, you’re gonna make mistakes. Nobody is sitting there telling you what to do day in and day out." - Craig Skelton

About the author 

David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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