In 2020, Sesame led the market in supporting the delivery of quality financial advice to customers, while also working with our members to enhance their business models and grow.
We accelerated the development of our mortgage proposition, to provide our members with a solution for every customer. This included a strategic focus on new build, to help shape the products and support available to advisers and their customers. We have also driven the focus in later life lending by increasing advisers’ understanding of the options available.
In response to COVID-19 we increased support for members’ retargeting strategies, identifying product transfers as a key revenue-driver. We worked collaboratively with our partners to align advisers’ awareness with lender activities through our product transfer grids. As such, product transfers comprise 27% of our lending and Sesame continues to be one of the market’s strongest in this area, outperforming competitors and our own 2019 record by 37% year-to-date.
In 2020 we also continued emphasising protection as a strategic growth area for firms. We expanded our Zenith protection solution, increasing from nine to 16 providers. We also launched our Stepping Stones project, helping mortgage firms to make protection central to customer conversations; the successful pilot led to firms increasing income protection business by 20%, term assurance by 30%, and multi-policies by 53%. And we continued representing advisers’ customers’ interests through our platform as part of the AMI’s protection group, and the Protection Distributors Group.
Sesame was also the first network to apply the fair value framework across our GI proposition, further evidencing the shared commitment between ourselves and our members to good customer outcomes.
We also increased grass roots representation for Network members with the launch of our Regional Chair initiative, enhancing communication between the Network and advisers. We work closely with our Regional Chairs to obtain member feedback and deliver peer-led support.
In an uncertain market, business written through Sesame has increased, with completions increasing by 3% year-to-date compared to 2019, and applications increasing 5% year-to-date. To underline this success, September 2020 was our highest application month ever.
This was all achieved against the backdrop of an unprecedented pandemic. To support members and the wider market through this challenging period, Sesame was the first network to launch a COVID-19 Support Hub and Bounce Back Hub in March and May respectively, generating 38,000+ combined page views. And, with more advisers working remotely due to COVID-19, we enhanced our health and wellbeing support for members by funding the cost of employee support services through specialist provider Care first, giving our members access to a team of professionally qualified counsellors.
Sesame’s communication approach has been exceptionally well-received by members. 2020’s Annual Survey saw a 46% increase in our net promoter score; meanwhile, 89% of survey respondents stated Sesame gives them access to providers and lenders who enable robust advice delivery, and 88% said our compliance support keeps their business safe.
In addition, our Group launched its Inclusion Council, working to ensure equitable reward and representation across our business and our profession.
This determination to continually drive advice quality for customers, enhance our members’ business models and continually raise the bar – even in the face of market adversity – is the reason why we believe Sesame deserves to be named Mortgage Introducer’s Network of the Year 2020.