However, around half of brokers believe that there are signs of improvement without being as transformational as it has the potential to be.
Mortgage Solutions’ latest poll asked brokers whether the evolution is already upon us, with 32 per cent replying positively, whilst 44 per cent of brokers said that it is around the edges but nothing major yet.
Around 17 per cent of brokers said no to the question ‘Is digital technology starting to improve mortgage processing yet?’ whilst seven per cent could not give an answer.
David Hollingworth, associate director of communications at L&C Mortgages, said that it is encouraging to see so many brokers feel that improvements are already feeding through.
He added: “Things change so rapidly and it’s not even that long ago that making an application to a lender online was not always as widespread as we’ve come to expect. The ability to see progress of an application, upload supporting documentation and amend offers where necessary are all useful.
“Our experience with our online mortgage finder shows that customers like the ability to initiate upfront communication online but there’s bound to be big processing improvements to be made, as lenders improve their system connectivity through APIs.
“Removing the need to constantly re-key information for example is likely to make a step change to advisers’ user experience and efficiency. Being able to remove the need for some supporting documentation through automated data will also be widely welcomed by advisers.”
Automated identity checks helps speed up applications
Alex Smith, senior mortgage and insurance adviser at Capricorn Private Clients, said that open banking is already making brokers’ lives easier by reducing the paperwork to share with lenders.
He added: “For example, some lenders can match stated income against net income from bank statements at the point of a decision in principle which removes the need for payslips and reduces overall underwriting timescales. Automated identity checks and desk top valuations can also help speed up application time frames.
“I believe the more significant changes on the horizon, and within the next year, will centre around the ease at which clients can provide supporting documents to their broker, and the ease at which these documents can be relayed to a lender without turning them into a printed document.
“Streamlining documentation provision and the removal of data repetition from the application process is where the greatest gains are to be found and tech providers like Smartr365, which we use here at Capricorn, helps us to achieve this.
“Beyond this I think the next goal should be sorting out the legal process and finding a way to condense it as much as possible by allowing the relevant data to be accessed easier and quicker.”
Director of lender relationships and new homes at Alexander Hall, Greg Cunnington, said: “There is no doubt that we are seeing some genuine and positive technology enhancements coming through.
“The last few years have seen a lot of noise around this area but it is only in the last 12 months that we can see some real enhancements coming to the industry.
“The sentiment around the best use of technology has changed for the better. There was a lot of talk of ‘disruption’ and ‘robo advice’ previously, with no real substance behind them, but now it is notable that these terms seem to have been phased out even by those that championed them and the technologies being presented all focus on an evolution of the industry to enhance productivity and to improve the journey for the intermediary and client.
“There is no doubt that clients expectations of how to interact are changing, and it is important that technology can assist here. Also where it boosts productivity for advisers this means they have more time doing what they do best – speaking to and giving good quality advice to clients – which is a positive for everybody.”
Transforming the whole advice experience
However, Martin Schultheiss, group managing director of Sesame Bankhall Group, said that whilst the poll results are encouraging, he agreed with the overwhelming majority who believe the technological shift taking place in the industry is very much in its infancy and there is still a long way to go.
He added: “The reality is that the mortgage chain has many components, and some of these are making more technological progress than others. The real value will come when there is a true end-to-end technology platform, which enables brokers to deliver an all-encompassing advice experience.
“This will be essential in order to compete with execution-only business models, direct business models and aggregation models, which are emerging as a threat to our profession and the crucial service brokers deliver in helping customers to make sound financial decisions.
“We fully appreciate that investing in new technology is a big decision for any advisory firm and is a potential distraction as they embed this into the business. That’s why – with so much change on the horizon – there is a strong case for not being too hasty and grabbing the first solution available. The reality is that there’s much more development coming and we would urge firms not to jump into quick solutions which they might ultimately regret.
He also revealed that the industry landscape is likely to look very different this time next year.
He added: “While the discussion today is centred on the mortgage process, the bigger question is about transforming the whole advice experience using technology, automation and data collection. This will enable mortgage and protection advisers to play to their strengths, by staying close to their clients and delivering a customer experience that’s competitive, broader than just a mortgage, and results in a valuable long-term relationship.”