Whether it’s swapping the office kitchen for a Zoom call to catch up with colleagues or relying on automated valuation models (AVMs) and desktop valuations over physical reports, we can all recall some change to our use of technology in the last year.
It’s always been around us and of course, as the digital world evolves, it continues to advance at pace. But the question is, has the forced acceleration and adoption of technology over the last year been a short-lived necessity, or is there a chance that as the world opens up, we’ll continue to take advantage of its benefits and adapt to the downfalls to save time?
I suspect it’s much more of the latter.
At Accord, we’ve had a huge year of change as we try to make things easier and more efficient for brokers.
To keep things moving last year we quickly switched to desktop valuations where possible, and we’ve rolled out new API technology to allow pre-population of data to our system, saving brokers up to 20 minutes per case by removing the need to rekey information. We also added our buy-to-let business to our Mortgage Sales and Origination (MSO) platform, meaning advisers can do both buy-to-let and residential cases with us in one place.
The latter is the biggest single investment we’ve ever made in our systems to improve the way brokers do business with us, for good reason.
Just last month we introduced new propositions including top slicing, new build for landlord clients and lending in Scotland. Without MSO this just wasn’t possible.
Adoption leads to development
And the more that lenders embrace new technology, the more I expect we’ll see exciting propositions come to market to meet the changing and increasing needs of clients, which can only be good news for brokers.
But it’s not just the big-ticket items. Smaller changes such as streamlining manual tasks with automated bot technology or increasing availability of webchat functions can make significant differences to the experience brokers, and therefore their clients, have.
Whatever positive technological changes lenders make, we know we’re only one part of the mortgage journey. There’s been digital advancements at other stages too.
Sourcing systems, aggregators and in many cases, brokers have all taken necessary steps to become more sophisticated, and as a combined force the industry has found ways to streamline the process during what have been some of the busiest months for lending ever seen.
Get on board with digitisation
However, we recognise that no matter how good we become with technology as an industry, it’s not a standalone solution. It’s important, there’s no doubt about it – it’s even a risk if you don’t or can’t keep up – but it’s hard to imagine that it will ever replace the value humans can add.
I only see the two complementing each other more in the future.
The better we all get at using technology, the more time we’ll have to focus on the things that matter. For brokers, having API technology to save rekeying will free up time to spend with existing clients, or generate new leads.
Likewise with systems such as MSO, the ability to self-serve and keep updated on case progression without chasing updates, all improves experience.
Meanwhile for lenders, digital assistance can help create a better packaged case, which enables us to assess cases quicker and turnaround offers sooner. Our underwriting team for example, will still be directly accessible, but have capacity to focus on our common-sense lending approach, underpinned by modern, digital systems and software to help brokers secure properties for clients.
We’ll always continue to look for ways to improve our systems and processes to make things better for brokers and their clients, but we’ll never rely solely on technology – we’ll just use our human touch more wisely, in ways that are needed and that add value, to continue to go above and beyond the expectations of those who do business with us.