Technology and lead generation must target customers earlier in mortgage journey – Brodnicki
Speaking in his opening address at the ICC in Birmingham, he said that technology could be used to qualify and prioritise leads, as well as generate leads. It will also “deliver value and build trust and loyalty” before the customer is ready to receive advice, which is crucial for future lead flow.
Brodnicki added: “It’s a massive challenge but it is also a massive must-do for us to secure our futures and to be able to evolve our business models and scale with absolute certainty.”
Lead generation deals
Brodnicki pointed to partnerships with Booming, Beehive Money and Moneysupermarket as examples of lead generation that will allow MAB to target customers wherever they were in their mortgage journey.
He added that over the past 18 months it had trialed new lead generation initiatives, including appointed representative dedicated marketing executives and its customer care team in Derby.
Brodnicki said that both had “produced great results” and “received fantastic feedback” and consequently these would be expanded.
He said: “This is just the beginning of a massive project about learning more about our customers and future customers than ever before. It is about delivering value and trust very early on and significantly widening the number and type of resources that will help build additional high quality and high conversion lead flow, months, even years earlier than we do now.”
Working hard on customer acquisition
He reiterated his pledge for MAB to become the number one in lead generation and fulfilment, adding that it would help its partners get more out of new sources and existing customers and trial solutions to increase lead flow.
He said: “Lead generation is the engine room of every single business and it drives every decision that every business makes. I believe every business should first assess itself as a lead generation business in terms of consistency and security of lead flow, lead quality, lead capability, lead source, exposure and aggregated lead cost.”
Promise to advisers
Speaking about his technology pledge at the previous 2019 conference, which said that it would “build technology to be proud of”, he said that it had not made as much progress as he would have liked.
He said that the business had since increased its technology spend threefold and it was now starting to deliver the “planned functionality”.
He added that whilst it would have been easier not to build the technology in-house it was “absolutely the right thing to do”.
He said that the Midas ecosystem, which has been updated, needed to respond to the individual requirements of every customer, business adviser and lead source and he promised it would do “exactly that”.
Harte joins Dashly’s sales division to build network partnerships
Harte’s move to Dashly follows an 11-year period as sales development manager at software solutions firm Mortgage Brain.
For advisers, Dashly is a communications and marketing tool logging clients into an ‘always on’ algorithm constantly checking their mortgage deal against the market. When better deal flags are raised, advisers can choose to re-approach clients while maintaining regular communications to culture loyalty.
Iain Swatton, head of intermediaries at Dashly, said: “Peter’s prowess within our industry, unrivalled network relationships, and bespoke approach to sales gives us even more confidence that our clients can have the best possible experience when they choose Dashly.
“We look forward to developing new relationships across the sector with advisers and lenders alike so that we can transform the mortgage market for everyone involved in it, and Peter will be crucial to making that happen.”
The software firm confirmed it already has relationships with advice firms MMD, Paradigm, Oakwood, Primis and Quilter.
Last week, Dashly launched Lending Labs, a predictive analytics and insights engine that uses data to help lenders design and deploy specific products for customers, such as in this instance the police or armed forces, expected to launch before the end of the year.
The technology company confirmed Barclays and a number of building societies were ‘in talks’ about the service. Dashly said one distribution option would be to specifically target customers signed up to its switching service by notifying the customer and their broker that new deals fitting their circumstances are available.
Peter Harte, senior sales development manager at Dashly, said: “After over 25 years in mortgages, my instinct was that the product should fit the person.
“Dashly is the only firm offering this kind of holistic service while championing the importance of human advice, and I relish the opportunity to persuade even more firms that embracing its sophisticated technology can help them retain valued customers, and get ahead of the competition.”
Harte was also part of the industry-wide team that developed the Blood Bank initiative, a blood donation drive that aims to increase awareness to boost NHS blood supplies at a time when the service is under enormous pressure.
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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.”
Atom lent £100m in Q1 and passes £3bn mortgage lending milestone
The intermediary advice-led mortgage provider, which launched in 2016, also completed £100m of mortgages in the first three months of this year.
From April 2016 to June 2021, Atom reached £3bn of mortgage completions, passed £1bn of deposits into its instant saver product and grew total customer deposits 16 per cent to £2.5bn.
Paula Mercer, head of intermediary lending at Atom Bank (pictured), said all our customers come through a broker in the first instance because we believe customers should get strong and impartial advice.
“All our business is both via brokers and via the app. To progress their application our customers have to download the app which then guides them through the key stages and information points on the mortgage journey. And because the app is linked to our digital decisioning and onboarding processes, customers get a quick decision – it can be 13 seconds – and can track every stage of their application.”
Mercer said the bank is happy to go ‘toe-to-toe’ with other lenders on the basis of price and service.
“We think this works for everyone – we bring competition to the marketplace, we give brokers a better choice and customers get an in-app and informed journey from initial application right through to completion,” she added.
The bank launched near prime mortgage products in June this year to support customers who might struggle down traditional lending routes after a CCJ, missed payment or past default.
The provider has also updated its mortgage originations platform for residential applications and expanded its use of Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) to use on purchase and remortgage business up to and including 90 per cent LTV.
“We’ve also allowed the option for self-serve pre-contract variations (PCVs), both of which improve the ease of use for our network of brokers,” said Mercer.
Mark Mullen, chief executive officer at Atom, said these results reinforce Atom’s expectation of generating sustainable, month-on-month operating profit this year.
“We have momentum – it’s been an outstanding quarter for Atom. We have achieved several important milestones and continued to drive the growth of our savings and loans. We have also maintained our reputation for exceptional service – a key focus for us in that it remains a challenging time for our customers, our people and the country as a whole.”
Meanwhile, the quarterly results confirm growth of 16 per cent in business lending taking it to a total of £759m. Coupled with nine per cent growth in the bank’s residential mortgages, Atom’s income from lending is on track to support its targeted return on equity of +24 per cent, it said.
Margins and returns on lending remain strong, it said, with a quarter-end net interest margin of 1.30 per cent, up from 1.02 per cent at the last quarter-end.
Virgin Money accepts e-signatures on mortgage declarations
Borrowers can sign electronically in a number of ways.
As well as the option to type their name into the declaration and electronically paste their signature, borrowers using a touch screen can use their finger, e-pen or stylus.
Alternatively, borrowers can access a contract through a web-based e-signature platform and click to have their name automatically inserted in the appropriate place.
A wet signature will still be required on certain forms, such as gifted deposit and Mortgage Guarantee Scheme forms.
Brokers can submit documents electronically.
Virgin Money will accept either photos or scans of documents.
US digital lender Better enters UK mortgage market with Trussle acquisition
Better is an alternative digital mortgage provider with the assertion it is making homeownership more affordable and accessible through its incentive of no origination fees, no commission and transparent pricing.
It launched in 2016 and completed $1bn (£721m) in lending by 2018. Better also offers home insurance and estate agency services.
Through the acquisition, Better will introduce Trussle to estate agencies, property developers and financial services companies and invest in customer origination.
The terms of the transaction have not been disclosed and the deal is still subject to regulatory approval in both the US and the UK.
Ian Larkin (pictured), chief executive of Trussle, will continue to lead the broker alongside the existing management team.
Vishal Garg, founder and CEO of Better, said: “Better eliminates the high financing costs, massive transactional friction, tyranny and mind-numbing bureaucracy that comes with getting a mortgage and buying a home in the UK via a high street bank.
“We researched the UK market and were surprised to see how we could make it so much better for consumers buying and financing a home for the first time. Making homeownership affordable and accessible for all customers is a key tenet of a well-functioning credit system and we are here to help grow Trussle and make it even better.”
Larkin added: “Better and Trussle were both founded on the understanding that consumers increasingly prefer to use online services to shop for and transact on major life purchases. It is 27 years since the World Wide Web was launched and most consumer industries have embraced it by now but the UK mortgage market is still characterised by analogue systems and processes. This market should not require consumers to apply for a mortgage five months before the end of the stamp duty holiday.
“We are very excited about becoming part of Better, and we are confident that Trussle’s future looks brighter than ever as part of a large and growing international organisation that shares our commitment to making homeownership more simple, fair and accessible for all.”
Why fintech is changing the mortgage industry for good – Boyd
Mortgages are no different. According to Infosys, 80 per cent of borrowers want a fully online mortgage application, and mortgage calculators and comparison sites can automate much of the process.
But many customers will be unaware that the best deal on a comparison site may not be the best deal for their specific circumstances. Customers are either overwhelmed with digital information, or apathetic towards new deals because they expect technology to find savings for them automatically.
And just as borrowers have new tools at their disposal, so do property professionals. AI, open banking and front-end fact-finding technology can all help brokers build detailed profiles of customers, and estate agents can use tech to automatically process and store information to match buyers with properties. AI can even underwrite mortgage applications by making real-time decisions, quickly crunching numbers, and eradicating fraudulent activity.
Technology combined with human advice
Building more accurate profiles of clients using technology means being able to better predict their behaviours. Open banking can show a broker or lender two people who earn the same salary, but who may have radically different spending habits, or even that someone who earns a higher wage isn’t as good a candidate for a mortgage as someone earning less.
So arguably, human advice is more important than ever. In getting to grips with tech, brokers can more easily analyse and compare mortgage rates, thus being able to help their customers find the best deal. Better deals mean more frequent and more meaningful customer interactions, and this contributes to a broker’s bottom line. Symbiosis at its best – broker and buyer in perfect harmony.
In my own organisation, we know that a tailored, properly analysed mortgage deal can only come from a broker with years of experience. Without it, the tech is almost redundant, and it doesn’t serve the ultimate goal of helping people buy their dream home.
Just as QuickBooks and Xero are now ubiquitous in accountancy, brokers are finding that by working with technology, their customers are more satisfied with the new, streamlined mortgage application process – as we know from our successful pilot scheme and now partnership with Paradigm and its members.
Fintech is gaining ground
And there’s no better time: the market is booming. Brokers will have a backlog of work thanks to the stamp duty holiday, and tech is at the heart of easing the load. We’ll also start to see the personalisation of mortgage products and innovation, with new challenges for the industry such as manufacturing and distributing green mortgages, for example, as the mechanics of the market change.
Although paper-based processes are still very prevalent – despite the pandemic forcing a move to more digital processes – anything that saves customers money and speeds up the lending process can only be a good thing. Fintech, it seems, is here for good.
Mortgage broking arrives on TiKTok as advisers take to video platform to reach customers
The short-form video platform has soared in popularity over the past few years to about 800 million active users worldwide, and is now being increasingly used in a professional capacity.
Videos with #mortgage have garnered nearly 400 million views globally, and multiple mortgage-specific accounts have popped up in the US, Canada and UK.
One of the benefits cited by users of the platform is the blend of comedic and informative content.
Michael Isherwood, who runs the pfsmortgages account in the UK, said: “The funny ones are the ones that take off and do really well, the ones where I am poking fun at underwriters or client interactions. They grow your profile, and then informative ones where you pick a category like self-employed is where you can really add value.”
Isherwood joined the platform in March after seeing similar accounts taking off in the US. He initially was going to use it to get more users to his YouTube channel and now has just shy of 50,000 followers.
“The engagement is really good. The amount of people you get even when you have a video that doesn’t do very well is great,” he said.
Isherwood said that the TikTok Live function, where he hosts Q&A sessions, mixed with people sending messages and leaving comments allowed him to interact and engage with users.
This was echoed by Joe Bartlett, otherwise known as The Homebuyer Coach, who has around 44,000 followers and first posted at the end of last year as his business pipeline started to shrink during the lockdown.
He said: “It has completely transformed the way I work. The connections I started to form with my followers helped me gain an understanding that most of these people are right at the beginning of their journey, and what they need most is guidance and education.”
Rosalia Lazarra, who started her own financial services-specific social media consultancy last year, said that TikTok was a great tool as it does not require a studio, editing apps or a fancy set-up, with posting and editing all done in the app. She added that it encouraged people to be concise due to the time limit.
Karla Edwards, The Protection Parent with 10,200 followers, added that there was a real mix of people enquiring and that it was not necessarily young millennials.
“There is a perception that this is just for younger people and that is not the case. I have posted things and got messages from a whole range of people who say that this fresh and new and exciting,” she said.
Building a brand
Isherwood did say that the platform can still be “very hit and miss”, as some videos that you would expect to do well may not perform as expected, while shorter, off-the-cuff trend videos can get upwards of 150,000 views.
Isherwood also noted that getting business from TikTok would take time and effort to grow a following, but it was still a relatively new territory for brokers and not as saturated as other social media platforms like Facebook.
Bartlett added: “It has been a massive learning curve, and I now have a process in place to help buyers from start to finish.”
He continued: “The tips to building a good following are to be consistent with your videos and to engage with your audience. When I was starting to get a little bit too much on my plate, I found it difficult to maintain a constant level of content and communication and I could notice the repercussions or this immediately.”
Edwards said: “It is definitely great for me in terms of getting leads but it isn’t something happens overnight. It takes three or four months for people to clock you.”
She reiterated that it was important to be authentic and get comfortable with using the app first, which she said could be challenging.
“You need to pick something that you are comfortable doing first and then keep within that and get used to the app. You can see a mile off if someone is doing something they are not comfortable with.”
Isherwood said: “I’ve been keeping an eye on the competition, and it has gone from half a dozen mortgage advisers I have been able to find to treble that already. I know it is coming but I’m hoping that because I have built up enough of a following I don’t have to worry about competition,” he said.
Bartlett said: “Overall, TikTok has been a huge benefit to my business and has opened up the door to many new opportunities and potential partnerships that initially wouldn’t have been possible. Mortgages now are only a small percentage of my future plans.
He added: “Times are changing! So even if it isn’t making yourself look silly on camera – there are many things that can be done to modernise mortgage advice.”
Lazarra said that social media would become more and more important for brokers, adding that this realisation had been more acute during the pandemic.
“Brokers have realised that they haven’t seen anyone for a really long time. They have also seen their competitors up their game, so now some people think that they are really behind and they need to catch-up.”
Nottingham Mortgage Services to be sold to Belvoir and serviced by MAB
NMS, which was launched in 2014 and provides tailored advice and searches thousands of mortgages from several lenders, will be sold to the Belvoir Group and 27 NMS team members will move to Belvoir.
They will continue their current work as representatives of MAB, who will take over the provision of the service alongside Belvoir.
Other impacted roles are being supported by The Nottingham, with redeployment options available and no compulsory redundancies.
The new partnership will focus on extending the Society’s digital footprint, especially to its digital-first members who will use the Beehive Money app when it launches later this year.
The Beehive Money App will be the home of all the Society’s online savings accounts, including its Lifetime ISA, and users of the app will also be able to access digital mortgage advice facilitated by MAB.
The Nottingham CEO David Marlow said that there was strong appetite for its digital proposition, with more than 50,000 18-39-old Lifetime ISA savers and a strong cohort of first-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder.
He added: “The evolution of our mortgage proposition and our ambition to provide this digitally, as well as face to face, is further progression in our reinvention journey and reflects our ongoing aim of serving our members with products and services that are relevant to them as individuals and deliver value to them in the most effective and efficient way possible,” he continued.
MAB CEO Peter Brodnicki (pictured) said: “The Society is a modern, mutual organisation with a long legacy of doing the right thing by its members and it’s great to know that with this partnership, we will have the opportunity to provide digital led, in-app mortgage and protection advice, through our experienced advisers who will be helping tens of thousands achieve their home buying goals.”