Many people sit in their office, dreaming up a new business, despairing at what is already available on the market. For Rich Wynn, a former mortgage broker at Barclays and London & Country, he is trying to make that a reality. He has a launched an automated mortgage service called Hoocht, which gets people through the first stage of applying for a mortgage, before being passed on to the next stage of receiving regulated advice
The initial process populates the online form, asking such questions as deposit and income, producing a ‘mortgage potential’ and, in a process that takes about 15 minutes, comes up with a solution that Mr Wynn describes as “an illustration”.
This still includes a ‘deeper’ stage, asking things such as whether the borrower wants to consolidate any debt or make overpayments, at which point an illustration is produced and the human broker steps in.
More than just a comparison site
Mr Wynn said: “Our mortgage calculator is not just a sourcing system, it’s not just data input, it reacts to the data. If you’re a first time buyer, or choosing a new mortgage, or doing buy-to-let, it will ask: ‘What’s your income? Do you have adverse credit?’ – questions you would expect when speaking about a mortgage.
“The system allows us to not just bring up the best product, the situation is taken as whole: someone who has a 50 per cent deposit will be very different from someone who has a 90 per cent; it is not just about loan-to-value [ratios].” He strongly denies the system he designed is meant to act as a comparison website, such as the many consumers have known to use and hate. For Mr Wynn, the site is more.
“The whole front end – the calculator – is automated. The calculator gives them a good idea of fees and monthly payments. Then the client fills in a bit more data, and that point, we know what’s happening and we then give them the best deal for them and their situation.
“The automated system has already come up with an option, and the initial option may be different to the advice [the firm offers]. We will do our research and make sure we get the right product for them. Eight or nine times out of 10, the suggestion the bot comes up with, we’ll go with that.”
Mr Wynn got an external company to develop the automated part of the business, and his company has three directors. The trio funded the project with their own money, and Mr Wynn said the response had been stronger than expected. He said: “We’ve had clients from Somalia, the Philippines and South Africa – British people working in these countries and are coming back and want to remortgage, and there’s now another medium.”
Speed is key
The real selling point of the system, according to Mr Wynn, is that people can start the mortgage application process on their own timetable. He said it was suited to “when people have time to do it”.
As often is the case with innovations, Mr Wynn’s motivation came from his dissatisfaction at what was available on the market. In his previous life he was a mortgage broker for Barclays, looking after high-net-worth clients and corporate premier clients. He also set up a telephone brokerage, MortgageCube, last year.