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Scottish Widows Bank to launch API broker platform – Martin Fleming

  • 13/12/2017
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Scottish Widows Bank to launch API broker platform – Martin Fleming
Scottish Widows Bank is launching a new broker portal at the start of 2018, the lender's outgoing managing director Martin Fleming has revealed.

The new broker portal with API capability will be unveiled in the first quarter of next year – possibly as early as January, Fleming told Mortgage Solutions.

He said: “It will just be a much better experience for the broker , for example, when they upload a document they will be able to see it’s been uploaded.”

He also revealed that the lender has been working closely with digital brokers and fintech firms to progress its online offering.

After two years as managing director of Scottish Widows Bank, Fleming is preparing to drive change across Lloyds Banking Group’s mortgage business at a time of radical change within the market.

He officially starts his new role as mortgage transformation director of Lloyds in January, as revealed by Mortgage Solutions, which includes Halifax, BM Solutions and Scottish Widows Bank.

A large part of his role is to essentially make sure that Lloyds does not get left behind by the digital revolution taking place in the market.


Open Banking a big opportunity

As a result, will need to stay on top of changes in mortgage sourcing engines, price comparison sites, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), mortgage brokers and Open Banking to name but a few.

How the different parts all come together remains to be seen, Fleming says.

But he believes Open Banking and using a borrower’s current account data will be a major opportunity for lenders – even if consumers do not initially fully adopt it.

It will mean assessing income and expenditure much more quickly – and making complicated customers less complex.

He says: “It’s a big change for an industry because all of our underwriting rules today are based off gross income, and we make all these adjustments ourselves, whereas what you see in a current account is net income.”

This will help lenders make better mortgage decisions for borrowers, Fleming says. And brokers can take advantage by making their advice more efficient.

Fleming points out that, for example, firms could look at a customer’s current account and see that by simply adjusting direct debit dates, £300 could be swept into an offset mortgage account each month and transferred back later.

In such a case, someone could in effect pay off their mortgage three years early, without saving any extra cash or making any big changes, Fleming says.

However, he warns that brokers need to be aware that technology is going to impact their industry – and those who don’t stay on top of it, could be left behind.

Lloyds works with the likes of Habito and Trussle and other fintech firms to get different perspectives and stretch thinking, with Fleming mentoring a Danish start-up.

He says: “We like to see people bringing new innovation to the market – but you still need a human in the advice chain.

“Robo-advice can help make the process more efficient, combing that with the human touch is probably what you need to do.”


Leaving Scottish Widows Bank on a high

The transformation that Fleming has overseen at Scottish Widows Bank over the past couple of years will set him in good stead for making changes at Lloyds.

Everyone being in the same office – and same floor – made it easier to deliver change at Scottish Widows, Fleming said.

For particular initiatives at Lloyds, he will look to locate people in the same place, so there will be no need for endless conference calls.

Under Fleming, Scottish Widows Banks’s mortgages balance book has grown by around a third in 2017 and market share has doubled.

The lender has carved a niche within Lloyds as the group’s offset mortgage specialist and also targeted professionals, with products tailored for dentists and medical workers.

Fleming regards his biggest success as improving the lender’s customer service rating.

But as mortgage transformation director, he will still be involved with both brokers and Scottish Widows Bank in his new role.

Fleming simply says: “We’ve got lots of exciting things happening at Scottish Widows Bank… some exciting things in January.”

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