Lenders’ tech strategies lack transparency, brokers say

Lenders’ tech strategies lack transparency, brokers say

As lenders continue to upgrade their technology to tighten their mortgage application processes, some brokers have expressed concern over the way they go about this, and the gap between those which are and aren’t investing.

Both big high street lenders and specialist buy-to-let lenders have announced tech updates this year. In August, Virgin Money told brokers it would accept electronic signatures on residential and buy-to-let mortgage declarations.

It also extended its partnership with Capita by five years in July to use the provider's mortgage orientation software, OmigaDigital, which integrates broker and customer portals.

Smartr365, a mortgage customer relationship management platform, recently announced a host of new lender integrations, with TSB, as well as Leeds Building Society, Accord and Aldermore.

On the specialist side, Accord rolled out its application programme interface software to all its brokers who use Iress, Twenty7Tec and Mortgage Brain in August.

In its interim results published last month, Leeds Building Society put its more than doubled half-year profit in part down to its savvy technology investments which have sped up service levels.

And Coventry for Intermediaries announced in late-August it now receives an equal amount of new business enquiries from brokers via its web chat tool. In July, the lender had credited its mortgage growth to tech investments such as this.

But as the wave of investments continue, brokers have taken a pause for thought on what really sits behind them, and how far lenders have got in tackling the "friction" inherent in the mortgage application process.

Martin Stewart, co-founder and director of mortgage broker network The Money Group, told FTAdviser: “Sometimes it is difficult to see exactly where the lender has invested some of that money. 

“Some innovations can be truly wonderful to behold, but they are few and far in between. More often than not, it can appear to be solutions looking for problems to solve.”

Stewart added the increased lending activity resulting from the stamp duty holiday served as testament to the work which still needs to be done.

“The recent heavily active market with the stamp duty land tax holiday and the volume it created only went to prove that we are as far from a mass market digital mortgage industry as we were five years ago.

“There is friction at many levels from the broker, to the agent, to the lender - and don’t even get me started on the lawyers. There is an element of ‘emperor's new clothes’ about a lot of what is going on at the minute.”

Tony Hall, head of mortgage sales at Saffron Building Society, told FTAdviser: “I don’t think any lender is not transparent on purpose. But perhaps they are sitting in the queue for new technologies as the creators of the systems try to keep up with demand.”

Hall explained: “I hope that one day we will have a system like some European countries, where you can get a decision on a mortgage in significantly less time than in this country, and can complete so much faster as it integrates with conveyancing and all legal systems.