Matt Meecham is chief digital officer of second-charge lender at Evolution Money
Talk about ‘fintech’ and you’re always in danger of turning large numbers of people off, particularly those who carry out their job in a certain way and have no intention of changing that, unless forced into it.
However, enter the ‘fintech’ argument with more tangible solutions to ongoing problems and you immediately start to get a level of engagement that is undoubtedly going to drive the mortgage (and property) market forward.
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For instance, there’s no doubting the last 18 months has been an incredibly busy time for the mortgage market and that has presented challenges particularly in terms of the timescale to get property purchases through to completion.
I’m aware of some mitigating factors, with large numbers of staff working remotely/from home which will clearly have a major impact. But there is a very good reason why the government wants to see efficiencies within the house purchase process, and it’s not because the time it takes to complete is record-breakingly fast.
Quite the opposite, and therefore much of that focus is around the ways and means that various technology can be utilised in order to speed up our market.
It’s why there has been a lot of discussion around digital identification, provision of property information in a digital logbook, quicker search results, digital mortgage deeds, use of electronic signatures, and utilising tech to deliver far more efficient communications and updates between all parties.
It may take some time, but with Government support, speeding up the process can be achieved. However, closer to home, what are we doing as lenders and advisers in order to improve the processes we have and speed up our delivery?
Well, we start from a strong position within the second-charge mortgage market because we are not often dealing with the same obstacles that are prevalent in the first-charge market.
Indeed, as a sector we have a good record on delivering a speedy service but there’s clearly more to be done, and at Evolution we see no reason to sit back when there is clearly room for improvement.
So, for instance, digital technology helps improve the mortgage application process for us by allowing for efficient responsible lending decisions; it means we can simplify the entire process through the clever use of tools that allow smarter data collection.
Much like there is now greater use of Open Banking by consumers, and there is a growing confidence about sharing this data with financial companies to support their efficient provision of financial products and solutions, we can, for example, use Open Banking, document collection, virtual meetings and the like, to engage with different customers in the way they wish to be engaged with.
Through the pandemic and lockdown many have become comfortable with technology, and we’re now able to integrate that further into our service provision, giving customers the choice to proceed online, speak to an adviser over the phone or deliver a hybrid solution making the life of both customer and adviser much easier.
It’s about allowing customers to access the advice/products/solutions they need as they wish, but once past that point it’s also about honing our customer-centric technology to not just improve the application process, but also have better communication tools to ensure they are kept informed and to flag actions that need completing and milestones which are met. By doing this, we can keep the process moving at a much faster pace which ultimately gets the customer their funds quicker.
And, of course, technology doesn’t stand still. We have a need to constantly re-evaluate our proposition, to look at ways to leverage and build new technological advancement in order that we can streamline our online digital acquisition including the application process for our partners and customers.
We’ll continue to embed AI and machine-learning into the heart of our processes to offer advisers, and their customers, better products and to make stronger, more informed credit-risk decisions.
All in all, this is an exciting time because the changes and improvements are likely to deliver real benefits to all. Tech will continue to drive our ability to enhance our proposition whilst maintaining that close customer/adviser contact which is absolutely crucial in today’s mortgage market.