And the intermediary mortgage market is no different – online applications, e-signatures and digital platforms are commonplace as advisers embrace the benefits they bring to their business.
However, adoption of technology in the later life sector has tended to lag behind and unlike the residential market, equity release processes can often still be largely paper based.
This includes the valuing and conveyancing aspect of the transaction, which means that getting from the production of the key facts illustration (KFI) to completion can take weeks at a time.
Digitalisation is happening though, spurred on by the rapid growth in the market and many lenders are investing more in technology in order to meet a predicted uptick in customer demand.
In particular, the evolution of application programing interface (API) integrations is gathering pace.
Mortgage market aggregators such as Air Group and Iress are leading the way with this, which means that the entire end-to-end process, from sourcing and KFI generation through to application submission and loan completion, can now be achieved in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
The development of systems like online application approvals, electronic tracking and SMS updates is also bringing huge benefits for both clients and advisers. With new platforms like these, advisers can track the progress of their clients’ applications, meaning they are better able to manage customer expectations and deal with any issues as and when they arise.
In future, we are likely to see lenders deploying technology to drive further efficiency in the equity release process. The introduction of artificial intelligence in the shape of robots and transaction processing systems will enable a much smoother advice process for all involved.
With benefits like these on offer, further investment in technology starts to look more attractive – and to be honest – with today’s 40-somethings basing their expectations on their experience of the wider mortgage market, expected by potential customers.
This ‘push for digital’ should prompt later life lenders to build ‘digital first’ solutions and technology which will also take cost out of the equity release process for advisers.
Digital advice delivery platforms which ensure consistency of advice standards and allow intermediaries to spend more time focusing on their customers will become increasingly common place and advanced.
Indeed, technology can empower advisers to work smarter for clients, putting advice at the heart of the later life sector and streamlining the other elements of the process.