Robo-mortgage advisers… whatever next?

Thursday, 8th June, 2017

Now, before reading any further I should point out that, like most people, I too use a series of apps to help make my life that little bit easier. From monitoring how active I am to listening to music, apps are now an essential part of my everyday life.

However, on reading a piece in the Telegraph recently with the headline ‘New app promises to sort your mortgage by iPhone as home buying goes digital’*, I have to say that I experienced the first pang of ‘app cynicism’ I’ve felt since I began using them.

Not because, as a mortgage broker, I felt in any way threatened by the advent of digitised mortgage applications, but because my first thought was that some things should genuinely be left alone. Applying for a mortgage, in the context of apps, is one of those things.

Admittedly, claims of being able to complete a mortgage in 15 minutes or begin the mortgage – or remortgaging – process through a mobile app sounds fantastic. However, having been a Guildford mortgage broker for almost two decades, I know that the reality of carrying out a successful mortgage application relies less on software and more on relationships and a personal touch.

Buying a house is, for the majority of people, the biggest financial decision that they will ever make. Now, relying on software to order your coffee so that it’s served to coincide with your arrival, count how many steps you’ve taken in any given day, or alert you when it’s time to drink more water is one thing. But do you really want to place one of life’s larger purchases in the hands of a faceless app?

Not only that but who do you contact when things go wrong or don’t go quite according to plan?

The mortgage application process can be complicated, resource intensive and is often affected by a number of variables and external organisations. Whilst it’s okay to seek a simplified one-button solution to some of the more mundane aspects of modern life, a one-button solution to mortgage applications is, in my view, a false economy.

In fact, let’s compare it now. Complete Mortgages typically spends 15 – 20 minutes to carry out a factfind, which is similar to what some ‘robo-advisers’ claim to take, and from that point onwards everything is handled personally by a dedicated account handler who is able to fast-track the process, carry out those sometimes-sensitive chase up calls with the lender or provide feedback to the estate agent from which the mortgage applicant originated.

We’re proud, for instance, of our high customer service ratings as showcased on our website – all of which are the direct result of real actions of real people, who not only help people secure mortgages day in, day out, but who also do so after having built a strong rapport with the customer.

Yes, there are many services and experiences that have improved through automation, however these are typically services and experiences that are black and white, that have a simple beginning and end point, and that aren’t always reliant on multiple processes in order to reach a successful conclusion. Getting a mortgage isn’t one of them.

That said, I wish those who have launched – or are in the process of launching – automated mortgage apps the very best and I will watch with interest.

In the meantime, I must go. I’m being told that I have a meeting and that I need to purchase a gift online in the next five minutes to make tomorrow’s post – all by my apps, of course.

If you need to apply for a mortgage and would like to speak to a real person, then contact Complete Mortgages on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk. We specialise in first time buyer mortgages, commercial mortgages, buy to let mortgages, adverse credit mortgages – and providing first-class customer service. 

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages

*http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/04/18/new-app-promises-sort-mortgage-iphone-home-buying-goes-digital