Recent weeks have seen a succession of developments on the broker tech front, with Mortgage Brain announcing a sweeping rebrand of its product line and Dashly revealing multiple partnerships with advisory firms.
However, while brokers have noted that certain tech systems already in the marketplace do reduce their workload, there is a strong expectation that if technology firms take on board broker feedback, more effective and efficient technology solutions could be introduced.
The best tech is yet to come
Lewis Shaw, founder of Shaw Financial Services, suggested that the best tech for mortgage brokers is yet to be developed, arguing that too often tech firms focus on problems that don’t really exist with “not enough research asking brokers doing the day-to-day job what would make their lives better”.
He called for tech firms to develop systems which allow the real-time monitoring of credit files, which have the ability to fetch bank statements with the consent of clients, or enable brokers to push data via an API directly into lender’s systems from a fact find.
Shaw continued: “The biggest bang for our buck would be systems and processes that speed up and simplify the conveyancing process. I keyed two mortgage applications on Saturday and by Tuesday morning the survey had been carried out and the mortgage offers were issued. However, it’ll now be approximately 12 weeks before they move anywhere due to the archaic and clunky under-resourced conveyancing process. Let’s sort that out before we worry if our fact find can tell us if we need another coffee or not.”
Mark Robinson, managing director of Albion Forest Mortgages, said that there is always a new piece of tech that advocates will say everyone needs, though “most of the time this is just something shiny with a monthly sub”.
He praised Knowledge Bank and Mortgage Broker Tools as systems he regularly uses, but agreed that the big innovations are still to come “with the integration of credit-checking tools like Experian and Open Banking on the horizon”.
A double-edged sword
Scott Taylor-Barr, financial adviser at Carl Summers Financial Services, argued that tech in the mortgage market is a “double-edged sword”, with some systems designed to remove the broker from the client journey which risks leaving the client in a worse position.
He explained: “We only have to look at the car insurance and, to a lesser degree, the home insurance market to see how technology taking away the broker has resulted in a ‘cheapest is best’ view of the market, promoting poor outcomes for clients and a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of cover levels from insurers trying to maintain competitively priced policies.”
However, he praised technology which has been designed to help brokers deliver better client outcomes, pinpointing Criteria Brain and Affordability Brain as “fantastic additions to the broker tool box”.
He continued: “This increase in efficiency is one of the reasons, despite some massive increases in the cost of regulation, we haven’t seen a corresponding increase in cost of providing advice to clients. One has helped to offset the other.”
Joshua Gerstler, owner of The Orchard Practice, also said that Affordability Brain is the tool that saves his business the most time.
He explained: “Rather than having to fill in the affordability calculator with every lender, we just fill it in once on Affordability Brain and it pulls in the results from every lender. This has saved us many hours of time when working with clients whose affordability is tight.”
Is there too much focus on advisers?
Iain Swatton, head of intermediaries at Dashly, suggested that often advisers can only really tell whether technology is adding real value once they give it a go, noting that many tech solutions focus on reducing duplication and speeding up the sales time.
He added: “A more efficient adviser is a good thing for the client but the reality is that the technology is more often aimed at the broker and making their lives better and not necessarily the customer.”