Finally, the tide has turned, the direction has shifted and we have crested the hill – okay enough, you get the idea.
This year was the year that intermediaries, lenders and third party software providers decided to invest in modern, efficient and scalable technology solutions not just to see them through the next 12 months, but for the next 12 years.
We have seen networks such as Mortgage Advice Bureau and Personal Touch Financial Services delivering major enhancements to their in-house CRM systems, whilst the likes of Intrinsic have invested large sums in their partnership with IRESS to roll out XPlan to all of their members. The results of network approaches to investment in technology may have been mixed, but there can be no denying that the purse strings have well and truly been opened.
Third party CRM providers also stepped up their game in 2015. 360 Lifecycle launched the first fully integrated point of sale system, with fact find, mortgage, protection and conveyancing quotation engines fully embedded early in the year. Mortgage Brain completed its integration of The Key with Mortgage Brain Anywhere shortly after.
Lenders have been active too with many investing in new intermediary portals adding layers of functionality and service to aid intermediaries and clients in the application process. It seems though, that the big investment from lenders in technology is still to come, as some look to leverage technology to wrestle market share back from the intermediary.
In the life space, the speed of innovation is increasing rapidly. IPipeline launched Solution Builder to help advisers speed up the solution shaping and quoting process. Systems like Solution Builder make it easier to show your clients how they can meet their protection needs in an interactive way, understand whether they will be rated, and rapidly quote and apply.
Even in the conveyancing market, (not an industry synonymous with technological innovation), big strides have been taken. Sort Refer launched a free app which allows users to source quotes from conveyancers within seconds, offering real time case updates and notifications. Meanwhile United Group launched estateagent4me, a new free website that ranks the performance of all types of estate agencies.
Finally, and by no means least for obvious reasons, Twenty7Tec launched the first independently-owned sourcing system for mortgages, secured and bridging loans, enabling a detailed comparison of remortgage versus second charge lending options – a must have for intermediaries in the post Mortgage Credit Directive world that we will enter in 2016.
As for predictions for 2016, I would say that lenders’ investment in technology will accelerate, faster than any of us in the intermediary space expect, to both protect and win market share. Technology enables lenders to differentiate their proposition, to reach untapped audiences and to accelerate potential cost savings. If there is a perception that lenders have had a quiet 2015 on the technology front, that is about to change, and in a big way.