Q. Mark. Thanks for joining me to talk exclusively about Mortgage Brain’s latest launch. What’s it called and tell us what it does please?
A.There has been lots of chatter about digital offerings and so called Robo Advice over the last 18 months or so. While much of this has been hot air, it has brought the customer journey more front of mind.
We championed the consumer experience of using advisers and technology at our recent Mortgage Vision events with the launch of our client portal in the Key, our CRM system and our digital customer journey solutions.
The expectations of consumers and the available technology are changing at an ever-increasing pace. I’m very proud to announce that Mortgage Brain has developed and launched the first ever UK Mortgage skill for a Smart Speaker device.
This mortgage skill, a voice-activated component of an Alexa app will be on the Amazon Echo, where Alexa, Amazon Echo’s interactive assistant can now help consumers find a mortgage and a local mortgage adviser.
So, why this software and why now? How many users does Amazon have for its Echo at the moment?
There are millions of homes around the country where Alexa has almost become another member of the family. Alexa plays you music, reads your children stories, turns your lights on and can now help you with your mortgage.
Voice technology through a ‘Smart Speaker’ device is gathering pace. Amazon won’t issue user numbers but a recent survey by Radiocentre concluded that 40% of homes will have a ‘Smart Speaker’ in 2018 and Amazon’s Echo will account for two thirds of them.
This technology is fast moving and growing in its use and the time is right for this sort of innovation. This is cutting edge stuff as we’re taking mortgage advisers that use Mortgage Brain right into people’s homes free of charge.
So you have created this skill, what impact are you anticipating this will have for advisers and how does this fit in with what you offer now?
A few years ago we took a leap of faith and introduced UKMortgages, the first Mortgage app for smart phones and tablets. It is now the most popular mortgage app.
It has been used about two million times and has introduced tens of thousands of consumers to advisers and this new mortgage skill should prove to be just as popular.
It’s important to look at the bigger picture as this is the start of a consumer’s digital mortgage journey. After this initial introduction, they can complete a fact find online and securely exchange documents and messages through The Key’s Client Portal.
And that’s not the end of the story, as the advice process, product selection and application submission through to completion can be just as slick and efficient using our sourcing systems and application submission platform.
Why did you focus on this rather than application submission, for example?
We’re announcing this new skill on Amazon’s Echo but please don’t think this is all we’re doing.
With about £120bn of mortgage business flowing through one or more of our systems every year and over 22,000 active users, continued product investment is crucial. We invest over 40% of our expenditure each year back into developing our products which equates to a team of about 50 people dedicated to delivering new and enhancing existing products.
With regard to application submission, we are the only company that delivers this across multiple high street lenders with well over 100,000 mortgage transactions being processed annually. 10 lenders receive applications directly through MTE, our digital AIP and application submission platform. We are investing here too and we’ll be making more announcements about this in the future.
Going back to the Amazon Echo skill, how does it work and does it use Application Programming Interfaces or APIs?
From a technical point of view, the voice recognition software collects information from the consumer and sends it in to our cloud-based systems through our APIs. We send mortgage or adviser details back to the Echo which are then verbally given to the customer by Alexa.
Let’s give it a go?
When is this available and how many advisers are on the find an adviser skill?
This is available now to everyone who has an Amazon Echo.
Mortgage advisers who use our sourcing systems are entitled to be on the find an adviser skill on the Amazon Echo and the UKMortgages app free of charge. Over 5,000 companies are already included and they or their network just need to opt in.
If they use Mortgage Brain and would like to check their details they can always ask Alexa or go on the UKMortgages phone app or website.
They can also change or update their details on our Mortgage Brain website by clicking on the products tab and selecting the UKMortgages page.
So where to from here?
We’re looking to extend this skill for Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.
But like I said earlier it’s not just about voice technology. It’s about enabling advisers to engage with customers in the way they expect to and most importantly making their journey to getting a mortgage as smooth and efficient as possible. The adviser’s skill and knowledge, coupled with joined up efficient technology makes this possible.
This is far from being our first innovation. We were the first to deliver off-line and on-line mortgage sourcing, electronic mortgage AIP and application submission, interactive adviser websites, APIs, phone apps and now voice technology. And there’s more to come.
I’m very proud of our achievements but we are very firmly focused on the future.