Long Read  

Is it the end for online mortgage brokers?

Technology investment can greatly reduce the manual effort brokers face in processing a mortgage application, freeing up time to spend in a value-add customer facing role. Key areas where technology can remove or significantly reduce manual pain include:

  • Communication: Customers in the digital age are used to immediate responses to their questions, the right technology can deliver these responses (or at least the holding messages for them) and thereby improve the customer experience.
  • Improved integration from mortgage sourcing: Removing re-keying by facilitating an application direct from the sourcing engine removes data entry errors and reduces inbound phone contact. 
  • Provision of an online 'decision in principle': Enabling customers to leverage benefits of portal technology and open banking to reduce data entry and re-keying saves both the customer and adviser significant amounts of time. 
  • Improved broker reporting and case tracking: Providing online case tracking reduces inbound customer contact to advisers, reducing call handling volumes and thus taking cost out of the operation.
  • Automated workflow: Enabling customers to upload documents and proofs via customer portals and improvements in optical character recognition technology mean quicker processing times, reduced re-keying, and automated routing of cases to the necessary case handler or underwriter. 

While it is fair to say there are clouds on the horizon, there are also some factors that mean they may not be around for too long.

In the short term, there is likely to be a rush of borrowers looking to fix their rate in the face of budget challenges, rising interest rates and rising inflation.

In the medium and longer term the chronic housing shortage in the UK, the expectation of a cultural obsession to own our homes (which may be on the turn), and an eventual decrease in energy prices and inflation should see strong demand for home ownership continue.

Those brokers who invest in technology to remove manual processing improve the customer experience, and who can focus the human element on delivering advice in a cost-effective manner, will play a crucial role in supporting homeowners through this period of economic uncertainty. 

It is also worth noting that broker networks and mortgage clubs provide technology platforms as part of their membership model, which may bring in easier ways for smaller broker companies to take advantage of the latest technology. This will help maintain a level of independence while being able to provide the best of what Habito offer. 

The outlook for online brokers therefore looks to be positive, providing they make the necessary investments in technology.

Chris Moore is digital consultant at Altus