Technology is here to stay, not replace
Craig McKinlay is new business director at Kensington Mortgages
Technology is essential in our everyday lives. Even more so now than ever. Whether it be for work or personal usage, people are completely immersed in technology, and since the pandemic began this has increased tenfold.
It is now very much part of the consumer experience, and therefore needs to be considered an integral part of the house purchase journey as well.
COVID-19 has expedited the use of technology
For the mortgage industry, technology enables better services to our customers, the launch of new and innovative products with risk analysis models, and helping assist us with customer sales. Technology is embedded within the mortgage process, which is why it has become vital at this time to help recharge the market once again.
While it is often viewed as something that is “bound to take over”, it should not be perceived as a replacement to the systems we already have in place. Technology never will replace the unique human and manual underwriting approach. It is simply there to enable a better, more efficient journey for brokers, whilst saving huge amounts of time in the process doing so.
How people are entering the housing market is different as well. Technology is an influence for these decision-making processes and ultimately can influence what customers decide to do. It’s inevitable that, post-COVID, technology will evolve within the market and impact our new ways of working.
However, we must keep in mind that the mortgage process is not merely an online journey. It needs a human touch. As despite the increased use of virtual viewings and e-signatures, there will still be a need for face-to-face meetings, such as when completion takes place and the keys are handed over. Broker advice is also vital in helping customers through the journey, particularly now more so than ever.
So in this regard, technology should be viewed as an ‘added extra’ within an already good system in place.
How can lenders use technology to provide good service to customers?
Technology assists us in a whole variety of ways. First, with the manual underwriting we use – both in the case of improving underwriting speeds and for understanding complex lending, something we value highly at Kensington and allows us to utilise good credit risk assessments. It’s how we were able to create our award-winning line, the Heroes Mortgage.
It also speeds up the process for due diligence, such as solicitor and land registry checks – minimising the process from days, to, in some cases, a matter of minutes. We can also now have data driven conversations to add value to broker and BDM interactions – something that wasn’t really possible even five to 10 years ago.
Besides, technology allows a far smoother transition into new areas within the market where most lenders do not tend to operate, such as expat buy-to-let and holidays lets. Specialist lenders can analyse these niche segments of the market and determine where the gap is.
Self-service platforms are also becoming more advanced for existing customers. These systems can look at an individual’s accounts, payment history, credit and revert with an outcome and solution personal to their situation. This service is automated, meaning it is fast and easy for the customer to use, providing a reliable and consistent communication process, with clearer information.
Lastly, APIs are a way of transferring customer data securely so that brokers do not have to waste time re-keying applications. Brokers can then spend more time on the things that matter – providing good advice to clients.
Ultimately, the mortgage industry should harness the opportunity that lockdown has presented, through technological transformation. As lenders, the onus is on us to take this chance to use technology to make better, more efficient business decisions, that will provide a more positive, streamlined experience for customers moving forward.