Our Systems and GDPR

With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force this week, on 25th May, we’ve been working hard to ensure our systems are enhanced ahead of the new rulings, so that you can be confident that our technology will keep you compliant.

Our enhancements have addressed the main areas of GDPR relevant to the functionality of our systems and the way you use them: definition and handling of personal data, the right to be forgotten, recording of clients’ consent, data portability and the right to object. This blog explains how we have updated and improved each of our systems so that you can have complete peace of mind after 25th May.

Mortgage sourcing

Both MortgageBrain Classic and MortgageBrain Anywhere have had several improvements and enhancements in light of GDPR.

There is now much greater flexibility and control in client data handling, for example enabling you to choose various options when deleting client records or exporting client data – some of the main GDPR requirements.

Deleting data

As GDPR requires you to justify why you’re keeping client data, our sourcing systems now enable you to find dormant clients in order to delete their data or re-contact them if needed. There is a ‘find dormant clients’ option, which you can select to bring up the clients to review.

The new rules also state that no record can be kept of any client data which has been deleted. Therefore, your deleted clients list will only contain a unique client ID, who deleted the client, when, and why.

A ‘deleted clients’ list can be exported in a CSV file to another location allowing it to be saved as part of the GDPR record keeping process.

Exporting data

Another stipulation of GDPR is to be able to export client data in a common standard format. This is to comply with the ability to provide clients with their data so that they can check and confirm that what is being held is correct.

We have also now made it easy to export this data, with a new export button, which also allows you to save the data to a file which can then be given to the client.

CRM, back office support & compliance systems

The Key, our CRM system, stores a great deal of client data, so there is now additional functionality to ensure you can fulfil your GDPR responsibilities. The enhancements include the ability to record consent, and the right for clients to be forgotten.

There are multiple enhancements to recording consent located in the ‘consent manager,’ as well as the ability to record ‘processing consent.’ Users are also able to record marketing consent via mail, email, phone and text message.

All of the Key’s deletion processes have been reviewed to ensure all personal data is removed to comply with GDPR. We have included a new function, enabling you to select multiple client records to be deleted all in one go. You can also search free text recorded as notes in order to search for, and delete, personal data that isn’t stored in the main client record.

The Key’s data portability features have also been reviewed, so that all necessary personal data is available. Industry-standard formats are now used, and records of activity now kept within the Key.

Finally, we have also reviewed our Fact Find functionality and have ensured that amendment of dependents data is recorded to ensure compliance with GDPR.

Multi-lender mortgage application platform

MTE, our mortgage application system, as with our other products already fulfilled most of the GDPR requirements, with personal data being password protected and encrypted. However, we have made further enhancements ahead of this month’s implementation of the new rules, including the ability to delete applications permanently, export client data as a CSV file and the ability to keep a record of client data exports and deletions. Furthermore, we have introduced a new option to record a free text note when deleting a client.

Your responsibilities

While our systems enable you to be fully GDPR-compliant, there are still responsibilities which lie with you. These include ensuring your computers are running software which is fully secure, and operating systems supported by providers. Any applications you use should be kept fully up-to-date, as well as protected by strong passwords to ensure security of data you store. We also recommend using screensavers for when you’re away from your computer for added protection.

You can find details about GDPR and our privacy policy, terms and conditions and release notes for the latest versions of MortgageBrain Classic, MortgageBrain Anywhere, MTE, the Key and MortgageStream on the GDPR page on our website.

If you’d still like to read more about GDPR, with the regulations coming into place on 25th May 2018, a presentation on the topic can be found here.

Meet the team: Chris Brown

An integral member of the Mortgage Brain family, Chris has been part of our sales team for a good few years now. He spends his time meeting advisers, mortgage clubs and networks and is an avid Twitter user – you can follow him @chrisbrownmbl. We quizzed him on all things Mortgage Brain – as well as some added extras…

How long have you been working at Mortgage Brain?
Six whole years!

What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different and ranges from travelling the length of the country for meetings with brokers and networks to carrying out webinars. It’s a complete mixed bag.

What’s your favourite part of your job?
The sheer variety of the role makes every day enjoyable!

What is your best Mortgage Brain memory?
There have been many memories, however, the signing up of a large network to use our software having beaten off the new entrants into the market has to be the highlight.

Why Mortgage Brain – what drew you to the company?
Technology will continue to lead the way for advisers and as Mortgage Brain has the pedigree and track record – why not join the best?

Tea or coffee?
I do enjoy my coffee, however, a nice cup of Earl Grey always goes down well.

You’re stranded on a desert island. Which co-worker would you like to have with you, and why?
Dionne Pullen as she always brings food to our meetings and no doubt would be prepared!

What’s your best party trick?
My wife would say my dancing – always good for a laugh.

Do you have any bad habits – especially ones that annoy the rest of the office?!
As I am rarely in the office, I am not there enough to annoy people!

What’s your best quality, and how does it help you at work?
Being Northern, it has to be my down to earth approach to life!

“Alexa… open UKMortgages.”

With Amazon Echo – and its friendly virtual assistant, Alexa – now a staple item in many homes across the UK, it seemed only appropriate to explore the latest Smart Speaker technology and what it could do and thus, the first UK Amazon Echo Mortgage Skill was born.

Developed to ultimately support consumers and drive business to our mortgage adviser customers, our UK Mortgage Skill is an industry-first. Now through a Smart Speaker device, consumers are able to search for a suitable mortgage and find mortgage advisers local to them to help them purchase their new property, simply by asking Alexa.

Ground-breaking mortgage sourcing

The new Skill combines our mortgage data and Amazon’s technology, allowing users to ask Alexa to find a mortgage that fits their needs.

Alexa will ask the user a few questions before searching through over 10,000 mortgage products and then will verbally provide details of the headline product – the mortgage product deemed most suitable based on their answers. Alexa will also send a summary of the most suitable Fixed, Variable and Tracker mortgage products to the user’s Alexa app.

Connecting consumers with advisers

Users can also ask Alexa to find them a local adviser. The Skill can either use the postcode registered to the user’s device – or an alternative one can be provided – to search through thousands of mortgage advisers to find businesses closest to them. All the mortgage advisers listed use Mortgage Brain sourcing software so they have access to all the mortgage products provided by Alexa during her mortgage product search.

Alexa will then provide the name and phone number of the user’s nearest adviser, and send a further list of up to ten local advisers directly through to their Alexa app.

How does it work?

There’s no need to register for the Skill to use it – simply say “Alexa, open UKMortgages,” and Alexa will then offer the option of searching for a mortgage or finding an adviser.

Users will need to provide the amount they wish to borrow, property price and whether they are a first-time buyer, moving home or remortgaging. Alexa will then search through a comprehensive list of whole of market mortgage products and 1,000s of mortgage advisers to find the best products and nearest companies.

Be in it to win

It comes at no additional cost to your licence fee to be listed as a mortgage adviser in the Mortgage Skill, but you do need to be a Mortgage Brain sourcing customer.

In order for your company details to be included, you need to provide your company’s name, address, phone number, email address and website (if applicable). You’ll also need to provide a short company description, which you can do easily on our website.

You can check for yourself that your business details are correct within the UKMortgages suite of products by asking Alexa on an Amazon Echo device to “open UKMortgages,” or on the website www.ukmortgages.uk.com or by downloading the UKMortgages app from either your Apple or Android play store.

So don’t miss any potential customer leads and be part of the UK’s first ever mortgage Skill. Your company listing will appear both on the UKMortgages app, website and Skill – hope to see yours soon!

If this sounds appealing but you are not a sourcing customer yet, you can start a free 30-day trial here.

Take a look at our full press release for more information on this exciting announcement, and make sure you tweet us @Mortgage_Brain when you or one of your customers have tried it out!

Meet the team: Craig Kerrigan

As you’re reading our blog, you probably know plenty about our company, systems and what we offer. But how much do you know about the people behind Mortgage Brain? Our new series will allow you to meet our team – the people who bring our company to life and are the face of our Mortgage Brain.

You’ve met Lee Richardson, now we’d like to introduce you to Craig Kerrigan, one of our national account managers, who is a Mortgage Brain newbie, and an integral part of our team.

How long have you been working at Mortgage Brain?
Coming up to five months now, I’ve been here since early September 2017.

What does a typical day look like for you?
I guess that the old adage “there’s no such thing as a typical day” is relevant. 
Some days I’ll be out with our existing clients at their premises (wherever around the UK that may be) for account meetings, reviewing where we are currently and also where we’re going together in the future to support their business. Other days, I might be in one of our offices (Bromsgrove or Croydon) for meetings with our sales and/or support teams. I’m home-based officially, so there will also be maybe a couple of days per week for prospecting for new clients and required administration.

 What’s your favourite part of your job?
The client contact, as mentioned above, ensuring that Mortgage Brain and our customers are working 
in partnership to support their businesses and deliver a great service to them and their end customers.

What is your best Mortgage Brain memory?
Our adventures around the UK – from Newcastle to Belfast, to London to Worcester, to Newport – between September and November 2017. We delivered ten Mortgage Vision events to over 1,000 Advisers – 98.9% of whom would recommend them to a colleague and 95% rated the events as either excellent or very good.

It was fantastic to see so many Advisers attend to hear about the marketplace from the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from ourselves. Feedback was that Advisers and firms still required support with this, and that’s what we’re doing currently. Hard work to put on but fun and rewarding.

Why Mortgage Brain – what drew you to the company?
Upon talking to various people in and around both the industry and the company, their approach to 
 managing both their people and their customers as valuable individuals.

Tea or coffee?
I’m one of those strange and rare Brits that doesn’t drink either! Soup or hot lemon when it’s cold, but, 
generally, juice or water-based drinks (I’d include beer in that!)

You’re stranded on a desert island. Which co-worker would you like to have with you, and why?
Lee Richardson for his dancing skills – anything else I say is liable to be libellous!

What’s your best party trick?
Making myself disappear at midnight!

Do you have any bad habits – especially ones that annoy the rest of the office?!
I love an all-day breakfast sandwich – which I’ve been banned from eating at my desk!

What’s your best quality, and how does it help you at work?
Trying to put myself in the customer’s shoes, ensuring that we try and meet their needs and give them a great service whilst also ensuring that we still remember that we are in business.

A helping hand from ConveyancingBrain

Going the extra mile is in our nature. Whether it’s offering help with the various facets of our systems or providing training, our team are always on hand to ensure you can make the most of what’s we can offer.

ConveyancingBrain, our comparison conveyancing quotation and case tracking system, is no different. We have a dedicated team on board, always ready to provide support – on a completely one to one level.

Personal touch

Once you register with ConveyancingBrain, you’ll receive a call and we’ll answer any questions you may have. You can also access the most frequently asked questions in our help and support section on our website at any time.

Our on-going support then continues throughout your ConveyancingBrain journey. We understand that, for many of you, this may well be your first time offering a conveyancing service to your customer, so understandably there will be questions and nervousness from time to time. Hence why we always on hand whenever you may need it.

We also like to thank every new Adviser using ConveyancingBrain with a box of chocolates or bottle of wine when their first quote becomes the first instruction. Just our way of saying thank you to you for choosing and putting your trust in ConveyancingBrain. We don’t think that you will be disappointed.

Learning more

For the visual learners out there, we also offer a 1-2-1 system demonstration. This has helped plenty of advisers discover the best ways to recommend conveyancing to their clients, and how to use our system to its potential.

Our website also has links to a number of flyers; to help you sell conveyancing to your clients, brush up on your understanding of any terminology, or if you wish to understand the ins and outs of how the case tracking system works, we’ve got it covered.

Keeping in touch

Even if you’re well on your way with your ConveyancingBrain journey, we still like to check in once a month to see how you’re getting on. We make proactive calls to ensure that if you have any concerns or queries, we can put your mind at ease and guide you through.

You’ll also be added to our mailing list, so you’ll be the first to know about any updates to the system and any new features we’ve added in.

Making progress

The smooth progression of cases is in everyone’s best interests, and our case notes tracking system is the perfect way to ensure that everyone knows what is going on. Our case tracking guide runs through exactly where to find and use the case notes in the system, with screenshots to ensure that you’re looking in the right place.

Case tracking enables you and also us to stay up to date with the progress of all your cases, provides you with an audit trail, and provides a three-way communication between you, the solicitor and our team, so that each case moves as smoothly as possible towards completion.

Want to learn more about our service? We’re always more than happy to answer any of your ConveyancingBrain questions – whether you’re already signed up or you’re looking to join us. You can give us a call on our mobile-friendly number 0371 200 0655, or get in touch via social media on both Twitter and LinkedIn.

Meet the team: Lee Richardson

As you’re reading our blog, you probably know plenty about our company, systems and what we offer. But how much do you know about the people behind Mortgage Brain? Our new series will allow you to meet our team – the people who bring our company to life and are the face of our Mortgage Brain.

First up is Lee Richardson, a National Business Development Manager, who is a long-standing member of the team.

How long have you been working at Mortgage Brain?
Just over three years.

What does a typical day look like for you?
Each day can be different which makes the job exciting and challenging. I could be helping one of my accounts with training or maybe an issue they may be having. Or, I could be out on the road presenting our offering to a new prospect account. Also, I help my colleagues win business and deliver a first-class service to our clients.

What’s your favourite part of your job?
Helping our clients understand the benefits of the system and what the system can do for them. Also winning the sale from one of our competitors is a great feeling.

What is your best Mortgage Brain memory?
Doing my Latino Bull dance moves at the Christmas party!

Why Mortgage Brain – what drew you to the company?
It’s a great company to work for, and what drew me to the company was that your views and thoughts are valued. You are not a number at Mortgage Brain, you are looked at as an integral member of the company who can make a difference.

Tea or coffee?
Coffee – Caramel Latte is the drink of champions.

You’re stranded on a desert island. Which co-worker would you like to have with you, and why?
I would say Chris Brown, we would spend our time on the island arguing which is the more manly game to play: Rugby union or Rugby league. We all know it would be Rugby Union – the tougher sport…

What’s your best party trick?
My dance moves and my fabulous singing voice.

Do you have any bad habits – especially ones that annoy the rest of the office?!
Yes, what seems to annoy everyone is my ability to look damn good looking every morning when I come to work…

What’s your best quality, and how does it help you at work?
I would have to say my sense of humour. Sometimes we work in a pressured environment and it’s good to release that pressure sometimes.

How much is a broker worth?

Do you think your neighbours, family and friends really understand what your job entails? In a Legal & General report, they found that more than half of UK consumers didn’t actually realise that a mortgage broker could offer greater product choice than banks or building societies – and about a third believed that brokers worked on behalf of a bank.

In fact, buyers have plenty of misconceptions when it comes to securing a mortgage and the role a broker plays in enabling them to find better deals and save money along the way.

Nearly half (48%) of homeowners and prospective buyers who did not use a broker chose not to do so because they felt their bank or building society offered them a good deal. But, as we know, as a broker, you are able to source mortgages from a much extensive pool, whereas a bank can only offer their own products.

The wider public seem unaware, however, with almost a fifth (19%) believing that brokers and banks have the same access to all mortgage products. In reality, brokers actually have plenty more options – up to eight times more than a bank or a building society. According to research, as of 30th October 2017, there were 3,721 products available direct to consumers, compared to a mammoth 29,886 available via a mortgage broker.

Not only is there a lack of knowledge about the differences between offerings of banks versus brokers, the research also discovered that one in seven respondents thought their bank or building society would be able to give them access to the same impartial advice as a mortgage broker.

The research from Legal & General highlights an education gap within the society, with a plethora of misconceptions surrounding the role of a mortgage broker and the true number of benefits they can provide to their clients. Mortgage brokers should be shouting about their ability to offer a more impartial, comprehensive service with far more financing choices when compared to a single lender. It is all about spreading the word and educating friends, family and neighbours, so that they can then spread their knowledge within their network and eventually to the wider public – all to mutual benefit.

So, next time you are asked what you do by your neighbour, a family member, a client, a friend or even someone you’ve just met, be sure not to hide your light under a bushel. Tell them what a mortgage broker does in fact do and therefore what you REALLY are worth.

2017: A year in review

Enhanced systems, superior industry-leading functionality, our biggest roadshow of Mortgage Vision events yet, plus our milestone 30th birthday party raising money for charity….. How do we begin to review just how great 2017 has been for you and us?

Let’s start with our systems.

You, our valued customer, are at the very epicentre of what we do. That’s why our focus throughout this year – and every year – has been on the enhancements we could make to our products, in order to ensure you are able to make the most of what’s on offer to you, and ensure the mortgage sourcing process is as streamlined and simple as possible.

We began in February with the Key as we launched our secure Client Portal, enabling you and your clients to communicate with each other within the Portal 24/7. It was a move that brought you and your customers closer than ever before, and has allowed increased levels of communications within a highly secure environment.

Our other big announcement this year was our integrated second charge sourcing, which is now available in both MortgageBrain Classic and MortgageBrain Anywhere. The system enhancements broke new ground in our industry, offering the ability to compare as many appropriate first and second charge product side-by-side as you wish.

Provided at no additional cost, the new functionality has since enabled our customers to use both MortgageBrain Classic and, more recently, MortgageBrain Anywhere, unlike any other sourcing systems available on the market.

We also celebrated turning the big 30…

Over 300 of our closest partners joined us in April to celebrate the 30th birthday of Mortgage Brain. Not only did the evening allow us to celebrate the last thirty years in business, but it also meant we were able to raise an incredible £100,000 for our chosen charities: Birmingham Christmas Shelter, Contact the Elderly, Young Dementia, MDS UK Patient Support Group, the Alzheimer’s Society, Shooting Star Children’s Hospice, Compassion International and Haiti Orphanage Project Espwa.

30th birthday

On a fantastic evening of celebration, our CEO, Mark Lofthouse, said: “Reaching our 30th birthday is a significant achievement, and as well as giving us the opportunity to celebrate, it was a perfect opportunity to say thank you to our business partners, friends, colleagues and associates.

“It was also the perfect opportunity to help raise much-needed funds for several great causes and I would like to thank everyone who has helped us raise over £100,000 for charity, which will make a huge difference to the people they help.”

And our Mortgage Vision events were our biggest yet.

We set a new attendance record at our Mortgage Vision roadshow this year, with a 22 per-cent increase an adviser attendance – a new record in our eight-year history of running the annual events.

Almost 1,100 advisers joined us at the free-to-attend events across the UK, learning about the impact of GDPR, the creation of a digital customer experience, and plenty more. The events also include round table sessions from leading industry organisations – a real pivotal part of what makes our events so vital for you to attend.

We didn’t stop there.

This year, we’ve also added to our team to support the company’s growth and product development, reached over 12,000 conveyancing quotes with ConveyancingBrain, seen the 2 million transaction mark reached by Mortgage Trading Exchange (MTE), and announced news about numerous lenders partnering with us.

What does 2018 hold?

For the industry as a whole, GDPR will be at the very top of the agenda, as we all work towards ensuring compliance with the new rules and regulations.

Our Mortgage Vision survey found that the majority of UK advisers are at risk of non-compliance with GDPR, with 81 per-cent of survey respondents still having no implementation of rules or regulations as of November. Our main aim going into 2018 will be educating advisers as much as possible on the importance of GDPR compliance, and ensuring everyone is as prepared as can be as soon as it comes into effect.

The digital advice journey will also take centre stage in the new year and become increasingly important, and we will also be stepping in to ensure you have all the tools you need at your disposal to maximise business opportunities and stay ahead of the game.

We’re also looking forward to even more product enhancements next year, with product investment being at the heart of what we have undertaken in 2017, and a continuing focus for us going forward.

Our biggest and best year yet? That’s up for debate, but we are certainly proud of 2017’s achievements, and we can’t wait to break more new ground and help you be an even more successful adviser next year!

Product investment – it is not important, it is critical.

Staying ahead of the game in our market relies on listening to our customers, coming up with innovative ideas to accommodate their changing needs and different ways of thinking. Product investment is therefore crucial to our business’s evolution and offering high-end solutions.

Speaking to Introducer Today this month, our CEO Mark Lofthouse gave his thoughts on how we have retained as an industry and thought leader by ensuring that product investment remains at the top of our agenda each year:

“The technology market,” he notes, “is a particularly competitive market and the longevity and survival of many tech companies is down, quite simply, to their approach to product investment and development. Apple is the world’s largest tech company and regularly features in lists of the top ten companies in the world of any description.

“There’s one very good reason for that – it keeps bringing out new products that people want to buy. The first iPhone, the product on which the company was established, was launched ten years ago and since then they have continued to launch a range of new, innovative iPhones and along the way supported by the launch of new ‘connected’ products and devices like the iPad and Apple Watch. If Apple had lost its way and was still trying to sell the original ‘ten-year-old’ iPhone, I can pretty much guarantee that, as a company, it’d be rotten to the core by now! Blackberry and Nokia prove that point!”

While the mortgage technology market may not run on such a global scale like Apple, Mark notes that the principles remain the same:

“Any company in its sector which doesn’t listen to its customers and adapt to a changing market can’t possibly survive in the long run.

“Let me start close to home for a minute. Mortgage Brain recently celebrated its 30th birthday and we’re still as relevant now as we were 30 years ago. This is because we continually listen to our customers, invest in new products and people, and develop new and associated technology products and services to bring to the market. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Simple as that.”

As the use of technology constantly evolves, you need to ensure you can keep up with it. As Mark points out, having the resources to be able to ensure your vision and ideas become a reality – is crucial.

Mark continues: “It’s why we invest over 40% of our expenditure each year into product research and development. It’s through product development and investment in the mortgage technology market that saw the launch of the mortgage industry’s first ever sourcing system. The ability to complete and submit AIPs and Full Applications digitally and receive a lending decision in under a minute. The launch in 2012 of the industry’s first mobile App that promoted advisers to consumers and brought in new business leads.”

This kind of investment allowed us to bring the industry’s first ever iPad-based sourcing system to the table as well as the development of multi-device, online and offline, fully integrated first and second charge sourcing solutions. It was also through this same investment and development that meant mortgage advisers were able to break into new markets such as conveyancing and second charge mortgage sourcing.

But how did all these developments come about? Mark has an answer for that: “Continuous investment in people, products and services – if done properly – is much more than just bringing new products to the market for the sake of it. Done properly, product development and investment allows companies to help and support advisers through the constant regulatory and market changes.

“Interactive websites with mortgage search and selection capabilities are here and now, together with digital client portals, which enable consumers to complete online Fact Finds, and securely send and receive information and documentation – all of which is way ahead of what the large aggregators have to offer.”

So, what’s next for both the mortgage market and for us as a company?

Mark thinks that anything is possible: “Looking ahead five or more years the biggest changes will be in the way we interact with computers with voice commands taking over from keyboards, and if we go all out Sci-Fi, there’ll be holograms and human-like robots!

“Who knows where it will end? The mortgage tech industry may not work on Apple’s global scale, but it’s still investing millions in R&D to keep advisers ahead of the game in an ever-changing market. Continuous investment, therefore, isn’t important, it’s critical.”

You can read the full piece on our website here.

We’ve been shortlisted!

There are plenty of exciting events going on at Mortgage Brain as we head towards the end of 2017 and the beginning of a new year, and we’ll be hoping to end it on a high and with another trophy in our cabinet.

We will be heading to the UK IT Awards this Wednesday 15th November as a finalist at their 2017 awards, under our nomination for the ‘Best Use of Cloud Based Services’ awards, sponsored by Amazon Web Services.

Our nomination comes due to our partnership with NaviSite, one of our cloud service providers. We have worked with NaviSite since 2014, and have since used its secure NaviCloud IaaS platform to both host and develop our customer product suite.

The annual UK IT Industry Awards are the benchmark for innovation and outstanding performance throughout the UK IT industry, and two areas that we pride ourselves on here at Mortgage Brain.

To us, product investment and enhancement are of paramount importance. As our CEO Mark Lofthouse noted in his most recent article, “The technology market is a particularly competitive one and the longevity and survival of many tech companies is down, quite simply, to their approach to product investment and development.”

We are always working towards constant development and providing regular enhancements to our systems, which is why we are honoured to be nominated for Wednesday’s awards alongside other huge names such as BHS, Vue Cinemas, The Home Office and the National Grid.

We are all thrilled with how much we have achieved together, and Mark echoed our thoughts upon the announcement of our award nomination:

“To receive the recognition for our work from the UK IT Industry Awards – especially when placed alongside the likes of The Home Office, BHS and the National Grid – speaks volumes for our approach, innovation and capabilities to help us deliver a flexible, resilient and secure cloud-based solution for advisers, IFAs and the next generation of house buyer.”

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @Mortgage_Brain to see how we get on!