However, many advisers say they already know the market without them, but others say searching information frequently can make the information stick in their mind and potentially lessen the need for them.
On the other hand, frequent product changes make criteria and sourcing systems useful in keeping up to date.
So this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: Have you become more or less reliant on sourcing and criteria systems over time? And are lender API integrations proving useful yet?
Most brokers have become more reliant on both as the market has got more complicated.
There are still brokers who rely on lender websites and their criteria search facilities and a lot of older brokers will prefer to do their research on lender websites so they can see it there, rather than relying on a third party.
Some of the younger brokers don’t know any different than the practice of using sourcing and criteria systems.
If you have a complicated query, it can save time compared to going through each lender’s website. But there is only so much information. There will always be something you need to check by making a phone call or going on the lender website.
For example, people are in so many different financial situations so some lenders allow brokers to ring up the underwriter to see if they will accept a case because it might not tick their standard boxes. That’s also why lenders like the Bank of Ireland Bespoke were set up so you can go through a potential application with them.
Some sourcing and criteria systems will have tabs for more specialised cases aside from mainstream. However, some lenders are less open about what they accept, especially when it comes to adverse credit cases, so they don’t feed it into sourcing and criteria systems. That’s when it’s best to pick up the phone and check.
For this reason, more experienced brokers might try not to be completely reliant on sourcing systems because it’s not always ‘computer says no’.
Some of our brokers use lender APIs and some don’t, so based on that I assume there’s a mixture within the industry of brokers who use direct submission tools too. There’s likely to be a way to go before it’s more widespread.
The vast upgrade and integration of sourcing systems over recent years are not only a huge help in keeping us up to date with product knowledge and lender criteria, but also give a real time indication of lending limits and live interest rates.
Having this technology at the touch of a button for standard mortgage cases is invaluable when making recommendations to our clients, and allows us to explore all suitable options rather than just relying on banked knowledge.
The advancement of sourcing systems has been a huge benefit to us, and our clients’ mortgage journey. Many of the systems and CRMs we use now have integrated application functions, meaning we can save time by not having to duplicate or rekey data.
We are client-centric advisers, so this upgraded functionality of sourcing systems has been invaluable to us speeding up the application process, whilst retaining key compliance functions.
In our experience, the bespoke nature of equity release products has meant that sourcing systems are used as a tool for general product guidance, but we are yet to find a system that integrates fully the client’s individual circumstances to include health and property.
We have seen advancements in this, but in our experience direct lender communication is still best in this area.
Without a doubt, we mortgage brokers have an impressive selection of resources readily available at our fingertips to provide accuracy to our sourcing and save hours if not days in manual research.
Not everyone is embracing all the new technology available, instead relying on an educated guess, office brainstorming sessions and past experiences.
Whilst other resources are available, year-on-year our reliance upon criteria and sourcing systems grows. Even though brokers must use a certain amount of technology for compliance reasons, the days of committing criteria to a spreadsheet or solely to memory are well and truly behind us if best practice is to be observed.
According to Nicola Firth of Knowledge Bank, there is around 130,000 individual criteria available at any one time with approximately 1,000 updates each week with API integration at the heart of the operation. She told me she could not imagine brokers ringing round to find out rates and said it would be equally bad for brokers to thumb through products which have a shelf life.
Nathan Reilly, director of lender relationships at Twenty7Tec explained that there are 17,995 mortgage products currently on the market. This changes daily.
Whether or not you are directly using API integration, lenders and support companies such as Knowledge Bank and Twenty7Tec rely on this technology to provide brokers with the best solutions.
Nicola also said API integrations were the “right way to go” as lenders used them to keep their own websites up to date and to integrate them into other platforms such as Iress XPlan Mortgage, Air Sourcing and OMS.
Both Nathan and Nicola agree that integration is not just a concept anymore but driving the industry forward. Advisers are increasingly embracing the benefits of a more connected submission process.
Having access to financial technology not only adds value to our business but also allows the broker to use it for best client outcomes.
With my equity release hat on, I would say we haven’t become any more reliant on criteria and sourcing systems recently.
The equity release sector is still relatively niche, and with fewer lenders and clients to deal with it is heavily relationship based.
While technology can help facilitate in some areas, equity release is all about building connections and trust with both clients and lenders.
Because there are fewer lenders to work with it is easier to be in contact with lenders and the pace of criteria changes is slower.
Equity release is also much more focused on the property itself. Whereas for a residential mortgage, the property and the borrower are roughly even in importance, in equity release the property is the main focus.
Criteria systems are set up to search for an over 50 expat from a non-EU country, however they aren’t equipped to find a 1930s house just off a motorway in Hampshire.
Criteria is therefore less relevant and it is about working with the client and the lender collaboratively to find the right solution.
As every equity release case is slightly different finding standard rates is also difficult. Most lenders will price on a case-by-case basis therefore a standard search on rates is tricky.
Equity release is also not always the best solution for the client. At Just Mortgages, our team of brokers trained on equity release can also advise on other areas of later life lending.
This is why relationships are critical as the broker needs to spend the time with the client to understand exactly what they are looking for, and then work with the lender to find the ideal product.