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Gemma Harle: ‘The future’s bright for mortgage advisers but technology must not be ignored’

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  • 20/07/2018
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Gemma Harle: ‘The future’s bright for mortgage advisers but technology must not be ignored’
Gemma Harle is looking to the future and wants mortgage advisers to do the same.

 

She joined Intrinsic in the newly created role of mortgage and protection network managing director in October 2017.

A big part of Harle’s strategy has been to help “future proof” mortgage and protection firms within the network.

She told Mortgage Solutions: “The future’s very bright for those working in mortgages.”

But Harle wants to support more firms in “adding value” to the business, so that advisers can sell their business further down the line if they want to.

One of the ways advisers can do this is by moving into offering broader wealth and financial advice.

Harle said: “It is for mortgage firms to consider their future, and how they can build their businesses.

“It’s not just about writing more mortgages, it’s about having a business that can offer financial advice to the customers and the customers’ children and parents.”

Customers need access to different types of advice throughout their life and within the wealth space there is the opportunity to review requirements every year for a fee, Harle explained.

She said: “If you have X number of customers, you’ve got guaranteed income… And that’s how you build the embedded value, and that’s what somebody would buy, the ability to service those customers.

“Whereas mortgages are transactional, once you’ve done the mortgage there is no more income from that customer.”

Technology and the future

Technology is one of the biggest issues for brokers and another prompt for advisers is to consider how their business will look in the future, according to Harle.

Instrinsic, like other firms and networks, is looking at how to integrate technology solutions.

Under Harle, the network is increasing its technology support for advisers, and a client portal in development that will make it easier for borrowers to digitally fill out their own fact find.

The network is also looking at the propositions that sit around mortgages, following the launch of its critical illness tool.

Harle said: “We’ve been working on increasing support for firms, enabling them to capitalise on what’s going on in the mortgage market – because the mortgage market is buoyant for advisers.

“And making sure as a network we’re not being an obstacle to writing business but keeping them safe.”

Advisers should be taking on digital developments in the market to make themselves more efficient, but technology won’t replace the human element, Harle added.

She said: “The technology developments we’re seeing are very fast moving.

“But technology supports what an adviser does; it won’t affect the giving of advice, it takes the grunt work out of it…

“It’s the soft facts that the advisers are able to look at and consider – and it’s really tricky for technology to do that.”

Concerns on the FCA’s view of the market

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) failed to pay enough consideration to the ‘soft facts’ in its interim report of the Mortgages Market Study, according to Harle.

In the report the regulator found that around 30% of customers don’t get the cheapest mortgage, regardless of whether they go through a mortgage broker.

The FCA said it wants more technological innovation in the sector to help consumers shop around.

Harle said: “The conclusions the FCA reached is just based on data.

“It’s dangerous them saying the customer could have got a cheaper deal – they probably could have – but would it have been the right one? They haven’t considered that.”

Harle insisted that technology is being developed in the sector, such as that from Criteria Hub and Knowledge Bank, to help filter customer eligibility for mortgages.

She also raised concerns about another of the regulator’s suggestions, which advocated that more customers should have access to execution-only.

Harle said: “If we go down that route, you could have customers every two years remortgage without speaking to anybody, even though their circumstances are changing… I don’t think that’s right for a customer.”

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