Why Iron Man is the ultimate mortgage broker
There’s a growing trend within the industry to talk about modernisation and what today’s homeowners and future homeowners want.
A recent report from EY suggests customers are increasingly expecting services to provide digital and omnichannel services. This may be true, however, demand has shown customers are more likely to prioritise more frequent, meaningful and personalised communications when they are looking to embark on such a monumental challenge. It seems that this is now becoming an important nuance for any brands looking to utilise technology to improve their offering as there is an increasing need to marry the benefits of technology whilst maintaining a human experience can offer.
The insurance industry has seen great benefits from an increasing adoption of new technologies. By using more accurate real-time data from the customer it can (in theory) provide them with a more tailored option that both parties can benefit from. It’s not always that simple though and often it’s the context around data that can get missed. In the mortgage industry, whilst new systems can help access a wider number of brokers who may have otherwise never been discovered, again without human input, relevant context can get lost.
Given the size of the mortgage market – covering hundreds of possible deals, and thousands of different criteria points, which regularly change – it’s not humanly possible for anyone to know all of the available deals and criteria in depth. As borrowers’ needs become increasingly complex, it’s unlikely that the best deal will be at a mainstream high street bank, which tends to default to the common borrower circumstances for their mortgage product offering.
By using technology at the right stage of the mortgage process however, hundreds of different mortgage options can be analysed to determine the best product for each individual. Advice platforms (such as Online Mortgage Advisor) have a high success rate of matching more customers with the right mortgage product by connecting them to specialist brokers – this is only made possible by utilising tech at the search stage.
In the last couple of years the mortgage industry has spent a lot of time weighing up the true transformative impact robo-advisors could have. But we’re quickly realising due to the complexities of today’s homeowner that the variables are too great. It’s impossible, with its current capabilities for this to be a cure-all for the mortgage market.
At the moment, technology’s benefits end at being able to provide the data. Communicating this back to the consumer is still better done by a human rather than chatbot. If customers get beyond a basic criteria match, they then may experience frustrations with chat-bots, questions often being answered incorrectly, people not being understood or simply replying with irrelevant information.
Again, it comes back to providing a tailored experience for each individual and their needs. Chatbots require people’s worries and questions to be categorised and grouped together which means the advice people are then given is what is best for the group rather than the individual.
Innovation within the industry is exciting, it’s also needed but it needs to be applied in a considered way. Ultimately we can’t just create cool new widgets, we still need to fundamentally understand what people want. Robo mortgages may struggle with rapid adoption because of the vested interest people in people – robo-chats can’t mirror as people can and empathise with one another.
The human experience has not yet been able to be copied and it has even been reported by The Drum that chatbots can damage a brands profile due to people’s resistance to using them. In 2017, a HSBC study found that only 11% of people have embraced the idea of using robo-advisors such as chatbots for mortgage advice. A lot of robo-advisors, for instance, are essentially good-looking online enquiry forms. They have automated elements of the process if you’re a borrower with the most straightforward of needs. But for anyone with more complicated requirements, automation so far has brought virtually no benefits.
Today, borrowers still overwhelmingly want to talk to a human being when it comes to their mortgage decision. After all, this is often the most important financial decision of their lives. Only a human advisor can empathise with them and respond to their intricate needs appropriately. This is especially true for “specialist” borrowers with complex requirements who risk being excluded by rigid, uncompromising algorithms. If a chatbot were to give them incorrect information it might be that they give up on applying for a mortgage altogether as often people may feel that they are not eligible and decide not to move forward after the first hurdle.
Arguably mortgage brokers are exactly the kind of high-touch, face-to-face role that AI will never totally replace. That said, there is definitely appetite for borrowers to speak to human brokers augmented by technology, who can use software to search for all of the available deals, considering their options quickly and thoroughly. This broker is more “Iron Man” – super-powered, not totally automated. By having this Iron Man, companies are able to give tailored, personalised advice based from a wide range of different options which may not have previously been known by one individual. Traditional brokers can be helped to cut their time spent on admin and instead use it to help borrowers. This is what the industry really needs to address if we’re going to improve the mortgage process overall and match more people to the right mortgage.
We have always keenly supported Britain’s brilliant mortgage broker sector and believe that people want a human who is quick, efficient, and accurate, complemented by technology (Iron Man), not a slave to it. This is with the intention that we ensure borrowers get the best service, with industry guidance, reassurance and support throughout, and ultimately the best deal for them, whatever their circumstances.
By Pete Mugleston, managing director, Online Mortgage Advisor (OMA)