Broker  

Habito CEO on why robo-broker employs few advisers

‘Not worried’ about competition

Last year Habito raised £35m from a series of backers, including venture capital investors Ribbit Capital and Japanese financial services company SBI Group.

Despite other digital mortgage brokersbeing bought up by US-backed players and claiming to be on the verge of tapping thousands more customers, Habito’s CEO is largely unphased.

“We don’t worry about it too much,” Hegarty said. “We quite consciously from the beginning set out to build a consumer brand, and so we didn't want to be completely reliant on partnerships.”

A fair bit of the £35m raised last year has gone towards advertising, including TV adverts and digital campaigns, as well as towards technology. 

“We are now the most recognised mortgage broking brand in the UK,” he said. “And that's a platform we imagine we can grow from for years.”

Although Habito is always keen to find partnerships and ways to work with third parties, the chief executive said it certainly wouldn't see other players integrating with those third parties as a “strategic threat” to the business.

Upon rival Mojo’s sale to RVU, the operator of Uswitch and Confused.com, the buyer’s chief executive Tariq Syed told FTAdviser it already receives 7m mortgage-related sessions across its website portfolio annually, speaking to the potential scale Mojo could reach through integrations.

Asked whether Habito would follow in the footsteps of Mojo or Trussle and succumb to a buy-out, Hegarty said it’s “definitely not for us”.

He explained: “I think there's lots of reasons why it could be interesting for many companies”. Hegarty cited a new source of customers, access to capital, and the experience of a larger company.

“But it’s definitely not for us,” he confirmed. “We have always had a very clear vision of the thing we were trying to build.”

Hegarty reasoned the more third parties a firm is involved with, the more this message becomes diluted, making it difficult to stay true to ambition. “We are very keen to be in charge of our destiny.”

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com