Accord API goes live across Mortgage Brain, Twenty7Tec and Iress systems
The widespread rollout will save brokers up to 20 minutes per case as they are able to pre-populate data from their client relationship management systems (CRM) systems to Accord’s MSO platform via Iress’ lender connect system, without the need to rekey duplicate information.
The lender said the launch of API technology marks a milestone in Accord’s digital transformation, helping brokers to submit decision in principles quicker and freeing up more time to spend with clients, something the lender hopes will encourage wider adoption from advisers.
Jeremy Duncombe, managing director of Accord Mortgages, said: “We’re really pleased to be rolling this technology out more widely after successful pilots demonstrated the benefits such a seamless mortgage application journey brings to brokers.
“Placing cases with us will be much more efficient and we’re looking forward to seeing more brokers benefit from this investment,” he added.
For Mortgage Brain, the move follows a successful pilot phase, carried out with Fluent Mortgages, bringing the lender tally up to five integrated through the Lendex platform.
Accord Mortgages joins Nationwide Building Society, Virgin Money, Coventry Building Society and Platform in ability to transact through the Lendex gateway, with further lenders set to join the system in the months ahead.
Neil Wyatt (pictured), sales and marketing director at Mortgage Brain, said: “Over the last few months we’ve seen a host of big name lenders enter pilot phases or go live on Lendex. There is no question that momentum is building behind the platform now, as the industry recognises how Lendex can provide significant support to advisers and improve the mortgage process for everyone involved.”
Smartr365 confirms TSB, Aldermore, Leeds BS and Accord integration to Iress platform
The integration will be live for all Smartr365 users from August 2021.
The platform has bedded in integrations with Halifax and Barclays and Smartr confirmed another three lenders will join the Iress platform and integrate with the platform within weeks. Another major lender will complete a direct to Smartr365 integration by the end of Q3.
Each integration is tailored to the individual lender and advisers will need to drop into the lender website during the application, but fact find data collected from Smartr365’s client-facing portal is enlisted to be shared directly with these four lenders, removing the need to re-key.
Smartr365 offers downloadable QR codes which become an app to help consumers fill out its fact find, identity verification via Experian, integrated sourcing and a relationship with conveyancing panel manager ULS.
Conor Murphy (pictured), chief executive of Smartr365, said lenders have made major moves during the pandemic to prioritise technology advances, so service is becoming a major differentiator for brokers when the rate or benefits of a deal are very similar across the major lenders.
“Whether that means having a business development manager available for a chat or a streamlined online system, service is a perfectly reasonable justification for choosing one lender over another. The FCA allows brokers to quote service as a reason barring a one per cent rate differential of course,” said Murphy.
The platform confirmed it has 2,200 users, paying a £100 monthly subscription, equating to growth of 700 per cent in the last 12 months.
The business is owned by founder Conor Murphy and in 2018, received investment from Legal & General. Murphy founded both Capricorn Financial and Smartr365 Technology and continues to operate as CEO for both businesses.
Murphy added: “Everything that Smartr365 does is designed to make a broker’s job simpler and easier, and Iress’ mission is directly aligned to this. We look forward to working with Iress more in the future and continuing our work to transform the mortgage process.”
Andrew Simon, executive general manager of product at Iress, said: “We’re delighted that Smartr365’s integration with Lender Connect is now live. The broker journey has been vastly simplified and users now have access to some of the country’s largest lenders.”
Accord reveals sourcing system integrations and new BTL deals
The lender, which is part of Yorkshire Building Society, also revealed details of its integrations with mortgage technology providers to improve application submissions processes for brokers.
Accord has developed application programming interfaces (API) to work with the Iress, Mortgage Brain and Twenty7Tec sourcing and CRM systems allowing brokers to pre-populate client details into its MSO platform.
It launched with L&C Mortgages and is conducting a further pilot with Quilter on the Iress Xplan Mortgage system.
Initially the functionality will be rolled out to the Iress Lender Connect system followed more widely with all three major sourcing systems – the Iress Trigold and Xplan Mortgage, Mortgage Brain and Twenty7Tec – during the first half of this year.
Jeremy Duncombe, managing director at Accord Mortgages, said: “Broker and lender integration has been topical for some time, but the last 12 months have brought this into even more focus.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve our systems and processes to make things easier for brokers and are confident investing in this new technology will help them connect with us more effectively than ever before.
“Our MSO platform together with API connectivity means placing cases with us will be much more efficient, and speeding up the time taken to apply for a decision in principle means brokers will have more time to spend with their clients.”
BTL product update
The BTL changes include a range of products at 65 per cent loan to value (LTV) for purchase and remortgage.
These include a pair of deals with a £1,995 fee – the two-year fix is at 1.64 per cent and has £250 cashback, while the five-year option is at 1.96 per cent and has £500 cashback.
New three-year fixed rates for house purchase and remortgage are also being launched, available up to 75 per cent LTV with rates starting from 1.89 per cent.
Rates have also been trimmed on selected products across the range while cashback has been increased to £500 from £250 in some products.
Virgin Money launches faster API-driven mortgage applications with MAB and Connells
The partnership will streamline the search and application process for intermediaries by removing the need to re-key data in multiple places.
Users can apply for a Decision in Principle from Virgin via this integration and submit a full mortgage application and payments without needing to visit the Virgin Money portal.
Available across residential and buy to let, for both purchase and remortgage customers, the technology will be rolled out to the wider market in early 2021.
Simon Wallace, head of mortgage integration and transformation at Virgin Money said: “At Virgin Money we have made no secret of our ambition to drive change and innovation in the mortgage market. This exciting partnership with Twenty7tec will play a key part in achieving that goal.
“The Apply platform will make it even easier for intermediaries to submit cases to us, saving them precious time, which could be better spent on helping their next client.”
James Tucker, CEO of Twenty7Tec, said: “Virgin Money has a great track record for innovating in the mortgage market and playing a huge role in delivering better customer service, so we’re over the moon to help them with this integration. As a result of this deal, Virgin Money Customers will experience a seamless experience from beginning to end – something which the Virgin brand is so closely allied with. We’re proud to be their partner in making the mortgage experience a little better for everyone involved.”
Ben Thompson, deputy CEO of MAB added: “This is a really progressive step, that we thoroughly welcome. Simplification of the mortgage process is very much needed, even more so in the current environment.”
Adrian Scott, group mortgage services director of Connells said it’s great to see another lender go live with the Apply system. “This will make writing business with Virgin Money far more efficient, which is always an attractive proposition for any broker, but particularly at this time when the market is so busy,” he added.
Successful APIs take time and collaboration to perfect – Calder
So, what exactly is an API?
To give this its full name it’s an application programming interface (API). In simple terms this is a software intermediary which allows two applications or systems to communicate with each other. APIs have been in existence in human form for generations and in a technical form for 20 to 30 years, so in reality they are nothing new.
How does this work on a practical basis?
I recently heard a great example, which I think explains it pretty well.
You are sitting in a restaurant looking at a menu deciding what to choose to eat. Think of the kitchen as a system which will prepare and deliver your order – but how do you receive this?
You could shout from your table, or go into the kitchen and make your own dinner but this will probably get you thrown out.
What’s more standard practice is that a waiter – the API – will come and take your order, then communicate this with the kitchen to put together your order. When it is ready the API will be informed, and the food will be delivered to your table. All without you having to move a muscle, hopefully without having to repeat your order or send it back because it was incorrect.
There are also now restaurants where you can order directly from your seat via an app or ipad which directly replaces any human API. Or you can do this from the comfort of your sofa.
APIs in banking
They are also necessary for the functionality of Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) – a key component of open banking.
BaaS is an end-to-end process that connects fintech’s and other third parties to banks’ systems directly through the use of APIs. It helps to build up banks’ offerings on top of financial providers’ regulated infrastructure.
Barclays was the first high street bank to do unsecured lending through APIs on Moneysupermarket and the first bank – ahead even of the challenger banks – to launch an aggregation app in our main banking application using APIs.
To change the way a 330-year-old bank operates is a monumental task but in the modern age it is a necessity.
However, when it comes to the wonderful and highly complex world of mortgages, APIs remain a challenge to integrate. All mainstream lenders are investing heavily in technology to streamline the mortgage journey and a large part of this comes in the form of APIs.
This involve lots of testing, redevelopment and more testing to ensure this makes the lives of the end users easier and that only relevant information is passed on and securely stored along this chain.
Successful collaboration equals successful integration
In short, lenders are integrating APIs into their offerings to help intermediaries reduce needless admin tasks, save them valuable time and allow them to spend a greater proportion of this saved time doing what they do best – giving advice and generating business. But patience is needed.
Technology which is rushed, badly developed and poorly executed can create more obstacles than answers in what remains a complicated journey filled with dynamic questions which need to be asked.
Progress is being made, but before pushing the big red live button we have to make sure these are work for not only our business but also for all links in the mortgage chain.
This is why it’s so important that firms work together to develop and integrate API solutions. Barclays has first-hand experience of collaborating with respected mortgage platforms, such as Smartr365 and Twenty7Tec, to enable brokers to halve the time taken to submit an application through the introduction of our Pre-population API.
Pre-population is just one piece of our ambitious API programme to deliver convenience and efficiencies for intermediaries, which we’re delivering through collaboration across our mortgage industry partners.
Barclays reveals first live API and Q2 rollout for case tracking
The lender is currently live with five broker firms piloting its pre-population API link which works through the Smartr365 and Twenty7Tec systems.
This pre-populates the Barclays application system with details from the fact find, reducing the amount of data the broker has to re-key.
“There’s still some re-keying – obviously every fact find, every sourcing is different so the question set isn’t necessarily standard,” Craig Calder director of mortgages at Barclays told Mortgage Solutions.
“It takes all the data that’s within the fact find and sourcing and pre-populates it into the Barclays application system.
“It takes all the bits that it possibly can and then leaves the bits which are more specific to Barclays or might be questions which have not been asked in a fact find,” he added.
Barclays is also working on an API which will enable brokers to track cases that it expects to go live in the second quarter of this year.
A submission API that will be an end-to-end submission without the need to come into the Barclays application system and a soft-decision API which will give a soft footprint decision in principle (DIP) are also in development.
The latter is currently available on the lender’s website but not as an integrated API.
“The soft decision will definitely be next year, but I’m hoping the rest of it will be this year,” Calder said, although he added that like any big program, “timelines are fairly fluid”.
“That’s our roadmap,” Calder continued.
“We’ve talked to brokers and platform providers about what does a sensible roadmap look like.”
Lot of learning
Barclays is only working with Smartr365 and Twenty7Tec at present as these were the two that were “most advanced at the time” it was looking to begin work.
However, Calder acknowledges that in time every lender will have to work with all of the providers, but doing so at one time will slow the process down.
“We’ve done a lot of learning with those two providers, our teams internally and broker partners,” he continued.
“Everyone operates slightly differently, everyone asks slightly different questions, everyone asks for things like identification at a different part of the journey.
“So by being able to tweak and course correct at every part of the journey it gets to absolutely meet the needs of the broker submitting the case, us as the lender and ultimately the customer,” he added.
Writing in a contribution for Mortgage Solutions, Calder explained the aims behind APIs and how they will evolve the mortgage broker and customer journey.
Nationwide integrates DIPs with Twenty7Tec’s Apply platform
It is expected that users can receive an instant DIP on remortgage cases from Nationwide, without needing to re-key data into the lender’s portal.
A spokesperson for Nationwide said brokers will not need to re-key the DIP onto the society’s portal, but client information will need to be re-entered for the full mortgage application.
However it is looking at resolving this in the future.
Nationwide conducted tests and found the DIP results always matched the results returned from the society’s portal as Apply runs the decision against its credit scoring system, the spokesperson added.
Initially, the service will be made available to Connells Group brokers using Apply, before being rolled out to Mortgage Advice Bureau, and then the wider market.
The integration is the first service that has gone fully live to brokers after Nationwide announced in November 2019 that it was launching a ‘sandbox’ pilot to enable third party systems to connect with its credit risk and back office systems.
The society said it would continue to work with a range of third parties to develop and support further technological innovations in the broker market.
Ian Andrew (pictured), director of intermediary relationships at Nationwide Building Society, said: “This is a big moment for Nationwide and we’re delighted that the outcome of recent tests in our API sandbox with Twenty7Tec have been so positive and that we’re now in a position to put our DIP API for remortgages live.
“We expect to expand the API with other third-parties in the near future and we continue to look at other ways we can use technology to improve the service we offer brokers both now and in the future.”
James Tucker, CEO at Twenty7Tec, added: “We’re very proud to be the first broker platform to have been chosen to work with Nationwide on this project, and we look forward to seeing the results that it produces.”
Santander and NatWest lead multi-DiP platform Mortgage Engine launch
Mortgage Engine offers two-way API connections, as well as what it claims to be the first multi-decision in principle (DiP) proposition in the UK mortgage market.
Intermediaries will be able to source DiPs from multiple lenders simultaneously, with Mortgage Engine promising to make this happen within 60 seconds.
The fintech company said it has worked with a number of lenders to streamline their question sets to align with the platform, which means brokers can use the information from their fact find and upload it onto Mortgage Engine without having to rekey it.
The information is then distributed to the lenders connected to the platform and returns with a DiP.
Engaging a fifth of the market
The company said in the coming weeks, products from Santander for Intermediaries and NatWest Intermediary Solutions will be piloted on the platform, connecting 22 per cent of the market.
Currently, Mortgage Engine is only available for brokers to use but the company said there is scope to open it up to direct borrowers in the future.
Any lenders who are not on a broker’s panel will not be included in the list of cases returned.
Mortgage Engine said it is looking to integrate 80 per cent of the mortgage market by the end of 2020. On the distribution side, it has connected with Dynamo and has plans to add more.
Cloe Atkinson (pictured), managing director at Mortgage Engine, said: “Intermediaries have been grappling with a fragmented application process for too long.
“In this age of emerging tech, they should not have to duplicate and re-enter customer data to get the information they need before advising customers on the best deal.”
She added: “Mortgage Engine is designed to improve efficiency at every stage and ultimately make the process faster and more effective for lenders, intermediaries and customers alike.”
Mortgage Engine has been backed by Santander, where Atkinson was head of mortgage transformation and controls for 12 years.
Nationwide launches API pilot aiming to cut rekeying by brokers
The API will enable third parties to connect into Nationwide’s credit risk and other back-office systems.
Nationwide said it was working with “all the main sourcing systems, customer relationship management (CRM) providers and mortgage brokers,” on the pilot.
It added that it would be “happy to work with anyone else who wants to speak to the team about using API technology.”
The main aim is to cut down on rekeying data. Brokers currently rekey data across multiple systems when collecting client information, sourcing products and submitting mortgage applications.
The pilot’s goal is to let brokers input data one time and then share it between systems.
“The APIs will mean that brokers don’t have to keep inputting the data and can get a decision in principle more quickly than they do now. If they are given a ‘yes,’ they can input the rest of the detail and submit the case,” Nationwide said.
The initiative has been launched as a sandbox pilot. This means connections with third-party systems will be monitored in a test environment initially.
Once testing is completed satisfactorily, third parties can then connect to the bank’s live systems.
“The launch of our API sandbox is a significant moment for Nationwide and the sector. We’re excited to innovate and learn in partnership with a number of third parties in a test, before rolling out the technology to the whole market,” said Ian Andrew, director of intermediary relationships at Nationwide.
“Technology advances have increased people’s expectations of a business and it’s important we’re able to serve brokers on their terms. Brokers generate a significant proportion of our mortgage lending and it’s important we invest in our services,” Andrew said.
Habito API lets partner app users search whole of market
The broker has collaborated with money management app Emma and property management platform Landlord Studio letting them use its new application programming interface (API) so their customers can search for first-time purchase or remortgage deals.
Habito said its API would appear in the partner’s app as a set of questions for customers to complete.
Data from the answers would feed into Habito’s search algorithm to discover which of the market’s current 20,000 mortgage products would be the cheapest available to them.
The research results would be ranked by a ‘true cost’ measure reflecting interest rate, fees and incentives including cash back, free legals and free valuations.
Landlord Studio app users can search for buy-to-let remortgaging and Emma clients for residential deals.
Emma chief executive Edoardo Moreni said his app had registered 100,000 customers in the UK.
“Our research has shown that customers are happy to invest 20 minutes of their time to make as little as £60 of savings,” said Daniel Hegarty, founder and chief executive at Habito.
“With mortgages, the potential savings are higher. It’s great that we can now bring our solutions to our partners, in-app.”