Only 3% of Britons would be happy to completely trust robo-advisers with handling their mortgage, a study by ING showed earlier this year.
However, Deloitte found a much higher number – 38% of mortgage customers – not only trust robo-advice but are even willing to pay for it.
Perhaps a more challenging question is: why is this not 100%?
Psychological research shows customers find it easier to entrust “intimate matters” such as finances to a non-judgmental computer.
I think most people, and over time all people, will trust computers to do the admin for mortgages, checking databases, removing repetitive tasks, solving complex product selection queries.
But for the actual decision… it turns out, people find it hard it to trust machines with making important life decisions.
Humans more reassuring than machines
What sets humans apart from other animals is our ability to emotionally connect with each other; to show empathy and sympathy with others’ situations.
A human connection is more comforting, more reassuring and more supportive, than a machine.
Of course mortgage brokers have always understood this, and are there for customers to understand, discuss and help in whatever way they could, often face-to-face or over the phone.
And that’s an excellent thing.
What is interesting is that more and more people are moving their needs to emotionally connect with one another, online.
Social media today is much more than just public newsfeeds. It is moving into direct, private and deeply personal communications.
Facebook messenger now has over 1 billion active users every month, and in five years’ time, experts predict that most social media interaction will be invisible.
Known as Dark Social because we can’t see it, the majority of our communications with each other will take place in private chats on whatsapp, facebook and other platforms.
It also won’t be confined to individuals, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last year said “we think you should message a business, just the way you would message a friend.”
He then opened up Messenger to chat based apps from news-services, online retailers and even airlines, which connect you to human experts via his platform to help you make your purchase.
Mortgage applicants prefer live chat
This trend towards private message is something we’ve seen through our customers’ use of our live web chat – more than 90% say they prefer using live chat compared to the phone to complete their mortgage application.
It is more convenient, it is done in their own time, they can scroll up and re-read the last conversation and all the information stays in that one message thread.
The message style is informative, helpful and, dare we say it, maybe even like messaging a friend.
Machines can sort the data; matching people to products, but they’ll never be as effective as humans at the personal touch.
This duality is something we explain in Habito’s TV advert and we believe that we’ve found the best combination of humans and machines, to tackle the inefficiencies in the mortgage industry while keeping the conversation.
But how and where that conversation is happening in five years’ time may be very different to today.