This is an interesting topic which has been bubbling up for some time. It’s one that divides the market. Indeed, I think most of us hold two views on it. We recognise the importance of technology, but equally, research has shown us that consumers want face-to-face advice. In light of this, can it really be used to solve problems in the advice process?
I think it’s important to make a couple of distinctions here. Firstly, we need to define what we mean by solving problems. To my mind that means assisting, not taking over. We’re not talking about robo-advice here, which essentially eliminates brokers and which I think we can all agree is a long way off. And once we start looking at technology as a tool for brokers, an accomplice rather than a competitor things become much clearer.
Cast your minds back to the mortgage market in the pre-sourcing systems days. When the likes of Trigold was introduced there was plenty of scepticism, particularly from the older generation of brokers, but sourcing systems have revolutionised the market. Indeed, it would be impossible to manage now without them.
And let’s not forget how beneficial back office systems have been in creating greater efficiencies for both the broker and the lender market.
It’s a fact that much of our industry is on the older side. We’ve spoken many times in the past about the need for more new blood and this recruitment issue is something that is only going to rise in prominence in 2017. However, I think we need to be careful not to use this as an excuse for staying stuck in our ways.
So 2017 must be the year that brokers upskill. The next generation of customers will be more tech savvy than ever before. We’ve all seen our children and grandchildren handle tablets and laptops with ease, if we want to be able to meet the needs of future customers we must embrace technology.
What will become apparent is that those brokers who enlist the use of technology in their businesses the most will be most appealing to tomorrow’s generation of borrowers. Yes, studies have shown few borrowers would not want to take out a mortgage without face-to-face contact but that’s not to say they won’t want the efficiencies that technology presents. The ability to store, sign and view documents online, a choice of contact options, the use of technology to make things easier and more straightforward throughout the process.
You may be of the mindset that traditional methods are best but I can guarantee you the tech whiz kids of tomorrow won’t be. And I’m sure the FCA will be in agreement when it publishes its findings.