Mortgage Introducer january 2020

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The time for evolution Phil Jay director, Complete FS


s market conditions within the financial services sector continue to evolve and challenge previously held notions of a working ‘status quo’, intermediaries have come under increasing pressure to adapt to these trends and to embrace a world that is awash with new opportunities, as well as threats. Yet, as we stand upon the threshold of an uncertain new year, the need to engage with three core issues has become a matter of growing importance, not least in terms of an ability to maintain a viable, competitive and ultimately profitable edge. TECHNOLOGY IMPACT

For example, the impact of technology on the mortgage process has become a matter of concern for brokers in recent times, with many concerned that the rise of robo-advice is a threat to the value of the human advice they provide. However, tech-based applications continue to simplify and speed up onerous backroom processes and free up brokers to pursue new business opportunities and there has been a growing recognition that technology can provide the tools to improve service levels and counter the perceived threat to their client banks. Technology, properly harnessed, now offers brokers a seamless and, above all, frictionless process which merges well with their experience and expertise and will become more and more the template that adviser firms should adopt. By placing an emphasis on recognising individual needs and circumstances which in turn underpins applications, backed up by the way that technology can accentuate speed and

quality of delivery in 2020, mortgage brokers can successfully protect their existing customers and offer a customer experience that is slick and personal to each customer. As we go into 2020 in a tight market, failure to see technology as an ally and adopting its use going forward could ultimately make the difference between continued growth or extinction. Similarly, the need to stimulate wider bases of new business should be at the forefront of every mortgage advice firm. For this to happen, certain attitudes will also need to change. For example, the past few years have witnessed a period of unparalleled growth in terms of specialist lending options and products, yet many brokers have shown themselves unwilling to engage with markets which fall outside of their core business models. Indeed, research conducted by Liverpool Victoria has found that up to 70% of brokers currently feel ‘uncomfortable’ about advising clients on equity release, and from our own experience, advisers are still wary about offering advice to customers who don’t fit a standard lending profile, have past credit issues, variable employment or self-employment for example. However, issues such as these can be easily resolved by employing the services of a professional packager like Complete FS. It offers brokers market expertise on the availability and suitability of products and the type of circumstances which lenders will, or will not, accept, while also helping advisers to drive up referral and conversion rates, reduce overall costs by delegating the responsibility for the process of applications, documentation and communication to the packager and taking full advantage of dedicated inhouse underwriters and case handlers. A win-win scenario. Indeed, while the packager is left to deal with much of the ‘heavy lifting’, brokers can use the extra time to stimulate new streams of revenue and increase their viability

and presence at a local level. While many intermediaries may be unsure where to start when looking for the right packager, a cursory glance at their ability to convert applications to offers and offers to completions should put them on the right track as well as checking that the technology that the packager uses is capable of supporting the transfer of information and documentation in a manner which is safe and secure. This brings us to the third and final issue that brokers will need to confront in the coming year – the rising threat of cybercrime. SECURITY SYSTEMS

Data breaches within the financial sector have risen considerably over the past two years according to figures from the FCA, intensifying the need to invest in better standards of data protection and to create systems of security which are proportionate to GDPR obligations. In our sector that means that the use of cybersecurity tools and anti-virus software, as well as using secure online portals and encryption technologies to secure the use of emails should be regarded as mandatory in 2020. In addition, the wisdom of training staff to recognise the signs of malware or of implementing dual authorisation processes, reducing the amount of information shared online and encouraging a collaborative working atmosphere that reduces the risk of so called CEO fraud should not be ignored. No one wants the regulator breathing down their neck. As we advance into 2020 and the line between success and failure is measured in smaller and smaller increments, the need for brokers to step up and seize new working practices is paramount. And, they can do this by embracing the services on offer which marry technological and traditional applications, pursuing better conduits of business and ensuring that standards of cybersafety are second to none. Happy New Year! M I