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The false dawn of mortgage advice technology – Scott

by: Dominic Scott, managing director of Alexander Hall
  • 24/08/2020
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The false dawn of mortgage advice technology – Scott
Over the last few years I, like many other mortgage intermediaries have borne witness to an array of unelected tech prophets forecasting the digitisation and subsequent demise of the ‘traditional’ mortgage adviser.


It began a few years ago with the term robo-advice.

Initially it conjured up something positive but soon the phrase was brandished like a weapon to forewarn those who seemingly could not embrace change of their impending doom.

Now the phrase has been politely packed away to the back of the cupboard, without the ceremony that accompanied its arrival onto the scene.


What do consumers want?

Why? Because, the conversation around tech in the mortgage intermediary space is typically dominated by the new incumbents who claim to be able to disrupt the status quo.

Quite often their validation for this is based on a limited sample set of consumer surveys which, surprise surprise, support the ambitious claims of the companies who instruct them.

And what do these surveys typically say? ‘Consumers dislike the slow convoluted mortgage process and want to do it all digitally…and quickly.’

However, the research traditional mortgage intermediaries have indirectly conducted, based on the high volume of customers we transact with over years, tells a very different story.

Instead the feedback can be best summarised that: ‘Customers want to deal with an adviser with access to great technology who has the sensitivity to manage their feelings and the knowledge to resolve the eclectic mix of challenges which typically arise during the home buying process…as quickly as it needs to be done.’


Unhealthy speed obsession

The general obsession with the speed of the transaction has always fascinated me.

Speed is relative to the wider context of the transaction. Speed is not absolute.

In fact, there are other parts of the home buying process which desperately need to catch up with the mortgage component.

Ultimately the proof is in the pudding. Over the last few years we’ve seen the new incumbents adapt their business models to reflect the traditional mortgage adviser firms.

Customers looking at them from the outside may not realise this though.

The slick veneer of their digitisation inevitably hits a blockade in the process, meaning customers end up speaking to an adviser sitting behind the technology who may not have the depth of experience that the traditional adviser has.

This point has been underlined by how the mortgage market has evolved during lockdown.

Covid-19 has shown us how the process of buying a home is always susceptible to new unforeseen challenges, which cannot be quickly resolved by technology.

But instead requires the intricate ingenuity and emotional sensitivity of the human being.

The new incumbents claim to have the solutions to yesterday’s problems, but do they have the solutions to tomorrow’s?


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