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'Getting brokers to engage with fintech is difficult'

'Getting brokers to engage with fintech is difficult'

Virgin Money has called on brokers to be more open to financial technology as it admitted engaging brokers with its own new tech has been tricky. 

Sarah Green, head of customer acquisition at Virgin Money, has told FTAdviser the lender’s partnerships with technology firms such as Twenty7Tec were yet to bear significant fruit as brokers continued to resist exploring new processes.

“We are one of the only [major] lenders which offers the full integration on Twenty7Tec,” said Green, pointing to a platform which helps brokers search, apply for and obtain a mortgage on behalf of their clients.

“You can go straight from your CRM [customer relationship management] into your app, and then straight into documents submitted which it feeds back.

“But actually getting brokers to engage with ‘full fintech’ is the difficult part.”

Green said earlier this year she was speaking to "one of the big London brokers" who was advising on a mortgage for a client Green knows personally.

“He said, ‘I'm going to submit it to you.’ I said, well, can you put it through Twenty7Tec just to give me a bit of feedback and he went, 'I’d have to understand it then'.

“Fintech is talked about, but I don't know whether the brokers really know or have explored what's on offer from players.”

She highlighted the fact Virgin’s fully integrated Twenty7Tec platform has been available to brokers for six months now. 

“We spent a lot of money [on it],” said Green. “We developed it. [...] We don't have the resources to go around every single broker and say, ‘give it a go’.”

She continued: “It's got to be a two way thing. We can build it but we expect people to come. [Broker firms] really need to lift their heads into that fintech space."

What's more, Virgin is “nearing completion” of its fully digital bank, according to Green. “Brokers are a part of that. We need people to use it. We are investing heavily in this space.”

Alongside its Twenty7Tec partnership, Virgin told brokers in August 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.

Earlier this month brokers told FTAdviser their thoughts on lenders’ technology investments. Martin Stewart, co-founder and director of mortgage broker network The Money Group, said “sometimes it is difficult to see exactly where the lender has invested some of that money”, and “more often than not, it can appear to be solutions looking for problems to solve”.

For Virgin, its digital strategy follows on from its merger with Clydesdale Bank nearly three years ago.