Robo-advice pioneer says human advisers soon won't be needed

Robo-advice pioneer says human advisers soon won't be needed

The founder of one of the first online mortgage brokers said he expects the process to replace traditional advice as he outlined ambitious plans to expand the business.

Ishaan Malhi, who established Trussle in 2015, said the company is planning to take a more holistic approach to advice that will ‘optimise’ both mortgages and the underlying bricks-and-mortar asset to ensure consumers get the best possible deal.

And while the complex architecture of the online system will be able to provide such a service, he believes face-to-face advice will ultimately be unable to compete.

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Mr Malhi said: “We think the excitement of buying a home is overshadowed by how complicated the mortgage process is, and if you can remove the friction we will see more people switching and having a better idea of when to get on the ladder and being better informed in the process.

“Buying a home is one of the biggest emotional commitments you can make – it is about when to buy, where to buy and how to buy – and it requires a lot of support. Offering that support throughout a customer’s lifetime is the role we want to play.

“We hope to provide advice any time you want to adjust your mortgage or your property, when you can release equity or move outside your area to another because of better growth prospects.

“What we are trying to do is get to a point where we have seen enough of every different case and requirement and goal so that we can automate the process of giving advice for every case - as if it were the very best mortgage adviser that you could see.”

Trussle’s workforce has doubled in size from 15 at the start of the year to 30 at present – but Mr Malhi made it clear he did not intend to grow the broker side a great deal.

“We make it very clear that it is not our goal to hire hundreds of them,” he said. “We want a small team of qualified customer services and support that have the knowledge and know-how to help people when they require it.”

He also rejected suggestions from some in the industry that humans would always be needed to deal with the most complex cases.

“The [system’s] architecture has been built to capture every data point so you can build that back in,” he explained.

“I have a product vision where people don’t need to speak to anyone to get the best mortgage for them.”

Tony Catt, compliance consultant at TC Compliance Services in East Sussex, remained sceptical about suggestions that robo-advice would be able to deal with more complex cases.

“I can imagine a computer would be able to say something like ‘this is the lowest-rate equity release scheme ever’. As to the timing of selling your house, that is remarkable. No-one can know that, and there are too many variables.