Opinion  

Mortgage brokers need a one-stop shop

Daniel Meere

Daniel Meere

In the UK, three in four home-buyers use a mortgage broker to assist them in finding the right loan.

A feature of the current uncertain market is that 90 per cent of new business written in 2018 was on fixed rates, most for two or three years.

This means that brokers will be busier as more customers look to move their loan even though one in three is not moving house.

Brexit, the resulting political fallout and the likelihood of higher interest rates could add further uncertainty to the mix.

Brokers do more than just offer advice. Much of the heavy-lifting associated with the application falls to them, as well as collating customer documents and liaising with the lender.

Many brokers see the advice component as their prime role, with the associated administration as an unwanted additional burden.

Point of sale regulation also means that the linked conversation around protection (building and contents insurance, life assurance, critical illness cover and income protection) has to be delayed, further extending the process.

The customer also loses out here. They pay for the services of the solicitor, surveyor and (indirectly) the broker and yet find themselves coordinating a complex web of players, each owning a discrete slice of the homebuying process.

Currently, the broker can only help the customer so far. But could that change?

Most information required in the home-buying process is digitised and can be easily uploaded.

All customer data (payslips, proof of identity and address, bank and credit card statements) is available electronically.

Open Banking APIs make offering a single portal with controlled access privileges simple.

Data security would improve against scanned images sent over email, or certified copies sent in the post, with the added advantage of time-stamping both dispatch and receipt.

In fact, M&S Bank has recently announced a digital mortgage offering and Atom Bank allows brokers to use a portal to enable paperless applications. Brokers beware, the shift has begun.

Customers are increasingly used to the idea of a one-stop shop for purchases. Travel can now be seamlessly booked to include flights, accommodation, trips and transfers.

Cars are now offered with insurance, tax, servicing and finance all wrapped in a neat package.

And for all this and anything else that is not covered, there is Amazon.

Although a larger financial commitment, mortgages are not so different from a customer buying perspective. Search, select, buy.

Given this move to convenience, a homebuying portal would be a logical step.

The lender, broker and other providers could establish a digital marketplace for financial products within which the solicitor, agent(s) and surveyor could also contribute.

This end-to-end process integration would enable seamless communication, underpinned by workflow that could prompt the next process step owner to act and confirm once completed.

The advantages in information transparency and communication alone would be significant.