Some brokers may have been reluctant or slow to make full use of technological practices, but all are now being forced to operate in this way to continue business.
This week Mortgage Solutions is asking: In what ways do these social distancing measures highlight the industry’s need to further adopt technology?
There has always been a need for increased technology in the industry, but we can only keep up with technology if regulations and stakeholders allow.
For example, what is the point in a 24-hour mortgage offer, if the legal process still takes four weeks?
The biggest issue we are currently looking at is the fact the banks seem to be having operational issues, which is obviously understandable.
With the banks struggling to keep up with their back-office operations, it then makes it impossible for the market to operate.
You will find most advisory firms allow flexibility with working from home, which is needed in our market. If a company doesn’t have the operational capabilities of allowing their company to carry on working without their physical office, I believe this will be a big reality check for them.
These firms will suffer, and I believe their operational models may have to be amended.
Once this is all finished the future may look slightly different for a lot of companies including the lenders. I think companies will have to focus on operational models that allow them to work through the absolute worst case scenario.
A lot of businesses will be building their new model by default through this mess.
We’ve found – as probably everyone else has – that it’s all slowed down. I had clients that I was ready to do an application with but the mortgage we were going with was suddenly pulled.
However, this shows a need for technology to be adopted within different areas of the mortgage process.
It could that instead of automatic valuations, they could do video calls with surveyors. There are some things people have wanted for decades, such as autonomous property searches. That could be used to speed the process up for house buyers.
Firms who have been slow to adopt technology will struggle, but this enforced hibernation is a really good time for all of us to reflect and look at how we can improve what we do. Anyone who rests on their laurels is likely to be left behind.
For example, we like to see our clients face-to-face as we prefer making eye contact as it’s good when getting to know someone and understanding what their requirements are. Not being able to meet with people face-to-face, we’ve found we have had to be more proactive in how we help our clients and achieve their goals.
Also, any brokerages who haven’t thought about investing in robo advice should probably consider it now.
Miles Robinson, head of sales at Trussle
Generally speaking, any firm that is reliant on paper factfinds and storing physical documents may find it difficult to uphold its regular customer and broker engagement at this time. Also there will be some difficulty in managing the lending process offline.
One thing we’re all suffering is being reliant on physical valuations as those can’t take place for now.
Trussle has been digital since it was founded so we are lucky overall. We already had advisers working from home, so we are able to offer business as usual.
Our technology allows customers to access us from home and enter all their information online. We make use of email and video calling and our adviser toolkit is a laptop and headset while all systems and processes are cloud-based.
From a management perspective we are still able to run internal operations with video calls and discuss challenges, we have channels where we share lender updates so we can provide clients with the latest changes.
Those who have been slow to react will suffer in some respects. And any aspect of the housing chain that is not up to date with technology will have an impact down the line even if a broker firm has fully embraced digital methods.
For example, smaller building societies and lenders might not have the same abilities as larger banks, which are struggling with capacity and service levels.
This will all make the industry stop and take a view on how brokers operate. Now it’s important to be able to offer online services, not just through a customer being able to do an online factfind, but across the whole adviser process.