The mortgage industry has adopted new technology at an unprecedented rate during the pandemic, increasing efficiency and unlocking new ways of working, but there’s still a long way to go to improve the customer experience. As the UK cautiously moves to relax its pandemic restrictions, it’s vital that the property sector doesn’t leave behind the spirit of innovation that’s carried it through the last year. While many people are dreaming about a return to the normality of life pre-pandemic, the mortgage industry should be more ambitious for the future.
Mortgage Engine’s work has been crucial in providing tech solutions that have enabled lenders and brokers to navigate the past year, and these solutions are going to be essential in modernising and improving the way the industry operates in the future. As the post-pandemic recovery begins to loom, the industry should focus on investing in tech to ultimately provide better outcomes for all involved.
Cloe Atkinson is the managing director of Mortgage Engine and is known for creating a fintech platform that uses application programming interface (API) technology to improve the connectivity between mortgage lenders and brokers.
What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?
When Mortgage Engine first started, the UK mortgage industry had hardly seen any innovation for the past decade and paper-based processes were still the norm. The sheer bandwidth required to comply with the regulation that followed the Mortgage Market Review perhaps also hindered innovation to a certain degree, leaving the mortgage industry behind other areas in financial service.
How has this changed over the past few years?
The pandemic has caused a huge shift and the property market was affected more than many other areas – it was effectively brought to a stop. There was a real necessity for innovation such as AVMs (automated valuation models), AIVs (automated income verification) and remote viewings for example, both to streamline processes and just to allow the market to operate in a socially distanced manner.
This really accelerated the existing trend of steady tech uptake and transformed customer expectations. Borrowers have now become used to being able to complete a mortgage application from the comfort of their own home and as a result, many may be resistant to going back to the days of face-to-face meetings, ID photocopies, and in-person certifications and valuations. There’s now a real opportunity for the market to continue to move forward in leaps and bounds.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
Mortgage Engine was set-up as a startup, with innovation at the heart of the business. We recruit natural innovators and our purpose has always been to change and improve processes within the mortgage industry.
What FinTech ideas have been implemented?
Culturally, Mortgage Engine owes a lot to fintechs – we’ve come out of the same disruptive mold. We’re also big proponents of technologies such as APIs and open banking technology. These have been successfully applied in industries like insurance and wealth by fintechs and we’re bringing this tech to the mortgage industry.
What benefits have these brought?
Operating like a fintech means we’ve been able to work in an agile way and avoid laborious approvals processes or needless governance. This means we have more time and energy to make the industry more efficient, to cut down times for lenders, make life easier for brokers, and ultimately provide consumers with a better experience.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
Mass adoption of the tech is the next big challenge. There’s also a lot of hard work to be done to help make the mortgage industry more inclusive. I think the two challenges are linked. If we can increase the adoption of new tech like open banking, we can create more opportunities for customers with affordability and accessibility issues.
Can these challenges be aided by FinTech?
Absolutely, showcasing the value of the tech is going to be key to increasing uptake and transforming the industry. Open banking technology, for instance, is already providing new ways to access personal finance data, allowing for a deeper and more holistic understanding of a borrower’s financial circumstances.
As a result, widespread adoption of open banking has the potential to bring real benefits to the mortgage industry, and to its customers. This type of technology gives ‘mortgage prisoners’ more visibility of the options available to them and for first-time buyers, open banking can help simplify and de-mystify the process.
The tech the industry needs is functional and available, however, adoption is lagging behind. A lot of progress has been achieved in the last year when it comes to tech adoption, but the industry needs to be ambitious and continue to build upon this momentum to provide better outcomes for its consumers.