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One to One with Cloë Atkinson

  • 08/09/2023
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One to One with Cloë Atkinson
Each month Mortgage Solutions and Specialist Lending Solutions sits down with a key industry figure to discuss strategy, opportunity for brokers and the mortgage marketplace.

This month we are sitting down with Cloë Atkinson (pictured), chief operating officer of Mortgage Brain. She has worked Mortgage Brain since 2022, joining the firm following the acquisition of Mortgage Engine, which she established and launched into the mortgage market in 2018.

Before that she worked at Santander in various roles including senior mortgage finance manager and finance business partner.


Q: You launched Mortgage Engine in 2018, what inspired you to launch this API solution and what kind of change did it instigate in the mortgage market?

A: In 2018, the mortgage market lagged other financial services industries in adopting technological advances; wealth had platform technology, banking had open banking whilst in mortgages we were still rekeying applications onto lenders’ websites and photocopying passports for verifying identity.

I spotted a distinct gap in the mortgage market. Processes were heavily reliant on paper-based systems, leading to significant delays and inefficiencies. Recognising the potential of digital solutions, I was driven to innovate and design Mortgage Engine.

We developed an API solution which transformed the mortgage process, allowing brokers to digitally submit applications to lenders and receive a decision in principle (DIP) in mere seconds as opposed to the traditional days-long wait. By pioneering this shift, it not only streamlined operations but also sparked a wider industry paradigm change, encouraging others to adopt a digital-first approach.


Q: Mortgage Engine was acquired by Mortgage Brain in 2022, and you took on the role of chief operating officer. What have the biggest challenges/learnings/opportunities been?

A: Since the acquisition, the key focus has been futureproofing by moving all Mortgage Brain products to a single unified platform with a single data dictionary. All projects were moved to JIRA (project management tool developed by Atlassian) as a single product management and roadmap planning and reporting tool.

One of the main challenges has been the integration and futureproofing of Mortgage Brain. However, in just a year, we’ve managed to achieve cyber essentials certification, improving the security posture and documentation of our controls, and all risk management was streamlined to a single tool.

One of the biggest learnings has been the power of collective effort; the roadmap I introduced has become a team-driven vision. These challenges, however, have opened doors to unprecedented opportunities, particularly in enhancing the platform and ensuring its market leading position in the industry.


Q: What are the priorities for Mortgage Brain in the near and in the long-term?

A: Mortgage Brain, leading the mortgage technology space for over three decades, has always been geared towards addressing the challenges faced by intermediaries and lenders.

Our vision of “Reimagining mortgage distribution” guides our immediate and long-term goals. In the near term, it’s vital to uphold our industry-leading position through operational efficiency and regular staff development. For the long-term, our mission to create powerful software, data, and analytics that unite all stakeholders underlines our goal of simplifying and streamlining the mortgage process.

We’re dedicated to ensuring lenders, brokers, and aggregators operate seamlessly, ultimately providing homeowners with a better mortgage experience by giving brokers improved technology for research, search and submission for certainty in their mortgage journey.


Q: There are several companies in the mortgage technology space, what makes Mortgage Brain different, and do you think this area will become more competitive?

A: Mortgage Brain’s distinction is rooted in its longstanding dedication and commitment to its vision of “reimagining mortgage distribution.” With a daily engagement of over 15,000 users, we don’t just offer solutions; we deliver on our mission to supply powerful software, data, and analytics.

This integration unites lenders, brokers, and aggregators, ensuring compliant and efficient operations. While the fintech landscape is bound to evolve and become more competitive, Mortgage Brain’s profound alignment with its mission and the substantial reinvestment into product development ensures that we stay ahead of the curve.

We have some exciting updates in the pipeline which are set to shake up mortgage distribution in the near future. Watch this space.


Q: The mortgage industry as a whole had to embrace technology and modernise at speed due to the pandemic. Do you think that pace of innovation has continued and has the mortgage market moved forward enough?

A: The pandemic was a catalyst for rapid technological adoption. At Mortgage Brain, we’ve always been at the forefront of transformation. Through our mission of creating robust software and analytics, we’ve consistently supplied the tools to help the industry evolve and adapt.

While progress has been significant, the process of innovation is continuous. In line with our vision and mission, we’ll keep driving the industry to reimagine processes and deliver early certainty to borrowers in their mortgage ventures.


Q: Which areas of the mortgage process do you think needs the most modernising? What do you think of initiatives like the Property Data Trust Framework?

A: While considerable progress has been made, areas like documentation verification and seamless integration between brokers and lenders still hold potential for modernisation.

Initiatives like the Property Data Trust Framework are commendable, as they aim to standardise and streamline property-related data, enhancing transparency and efficiency in the process.


Q: You are committed to gender diversity, having asked that one third of CVs you receive are from women, why is this important to you?

A: Gender diversity is paramount. As a woman working in tech who is a mother to a daughter, a sister, and an auntie to nieces, I feel I must seize the opportunity to remove as many barriers as possible to support women joining the industry.

An inclusive work environment fosters diverse perspectives, innovation, and a richer problem-solving approach. Ensuring a balanced representation, especially in tech, is crucial to challenge the status quo and drive the industry forward.


Q: Another issue you feel passionately is mentoring, why is mentoring important?

A: Mentoring is a powerful tool in shaping careers and fostering the next generation of leaders. Through guidance, sharing experiences, and supplying support, we ensure that talents are nurtured, and potential is maximised.

Put simply it is about communicating with people and being available to speak to anyone in the team that needs support, advice or even just a sounding board to discuss ideas. It’s a commitment to individual growth and the broader industry’s future.


Q: What would you want brokers to know about Mortgage Brain?

A: Mortgage Brain is more than a tech platform; it’s a legacy built on a clear vision and mission. We are committed to “reimagining mortgage distribution,” ensuring that our partners, from brokers to lenders, have the tools they need. Our mission – creating powerful software, data, and analytics – empowers all stakeholders, from lenders to brokers and aggregators, to operate in harmony.

Our technology ensures borrowers can be confident that they will get the right finance for their property, with more certainty, and fewer delays. With the trust of over 15,000 daily users and a suite of innovative offerings, we’re not just service providers – we’re industry pioneers dedicated to reshaping the mortgage landscape.

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