Robo-adviser to enter mortgage market

Robo-adviser to enter mortgage market

An online financial adviser is set to enter the mortgage market next year with the launch of an advice service aimed at first-time buyers. 

OpenMoney, which was rebranded as the advice arm of robo-firm Evestor earlier this year, has appointed James Brocklebank as its head of mortgage proposition as the company accelerates plans to launch its mortgage service. 

Mr Brocklebank has previously worked at Santander and Yorkshire Building Society Group and alongside fintech mortgage service Mojo.

OpenMoney will initially target first-time buyers covering the duration of the house buying process including helping clients build a deposit and repay the mortgage in full, but it intends to add a full range of services over time. 

According to Mr Brocklebank all too often mortgage advice is limited to getting the best rate and mortgage for a client, but he said OpenMoney hopes to change that.

He said: "Our aim is not to just provide a quick service and get a cheap two-year rate, we are going to provide true holistic mortgage advice in a modern way, when and where a client needs it."

Charges for OpenMoney's mortgage service have not yet been confirmed but it is understood these will be in line with the robo-adviser's "low cost" approach.

Anthony Morrow, chief executive and co-founder of OpenMoney, said: "Buying a house is likely to be the biggest financial decision most of us will make, but many people are struggling to get onto the property ladder at all.

"For those who do, the process is often confusing, expensive and time consuming, with multiple parties to contact and chase.

"We aim to make the entire journey easier and less stressful with clear, continuous, communication and at a low cost.

"From setting deposit goals and providing mortgage, insurances and mortgage protection advice, to linking to conveyancing, we want to support customers all the way through to their final repayment."

Mr Morrow said adding mortgage advice to OpenMoney's list of services was the next step in the company's plans to become a "one-stop-shop for people’s financial affairs". 

He added: "James’ experience as a mortgage broker and developing fintech mortgage solutions will be invaluable as we shape our competitive offering over the next few months."

David Hollingworth, associate director of communications at London & Country Mortgages, said: "First-time buyers need to save toward a big deposit to make their home ownership dream a reality and will often make regular savings to develop their fund - there may be a clear attraction for an investment platform to attract those investing with the end goal of buying their first home. 

"Taking them through to buying a property of course requires mortgage advice and first-time buyers are a sector that really needs that assistance as they embark on what can be a confusing and alien process."  

"Although first time buyers are likely to be tech savvy, we see time and again that they will often still want the reassurance of speaking to an adviser rather than rely on a fully automated process."