Can your data security stand the heat?

The current hotter weather gives us all the perfect excuse to chill out, relax with friends and family. However, there’s one thing that you can’t be relaxed about during the summer – or at any time: data security. If you let that slip, you put both your and your clients’ information at risk.

Be sensible

First on your checklist should be backing up your data, because if something goes wrong and you don’t have a copy, you risk losing it all. Backing up your computer regularly will ensure you always have contingency, should the unthinkable happen. There is a variety of ways to do this. Perhaps purchase a separate hard drive that you keep on another premises or back up to a cloud – whatever you do, make sure that you do something.

You should also ensure that you update any computer programmes you use regularly. Whenever prompted, make sure you agree to the latest update so that your computer and other devices are protected with the most recent anti-virus software.

Be vigilant

It’s also a must to regularly update your passwords and ensure that you use a combination of symbols, letters and numbers (we know it’s tedious, but it does help) to ensure that they are not easy to crack. The best passwords are in fact completely random, but a variety of useful password manager applications can help you manage them.

Also make sure that all your devices are stored safely. Whether in office premises or in your own home, make sure laptops and computers are not easy to spot from outside prying eyes – and also being vigilant if transporting your laptop from A to B. Being careful in the first instance will help to ensure their safety – and will also mean that you don’t have to fork out costly amounts or claim on your insurance for replacement devices.

Protect the information, not just the device

Recent history shows that even the strongest passwords can be hacked – and an awful lot of information stored on our gadgets and computers could be worth a lot to someone with dishonest intentions. So phone numbers, sensitive files, important emails and messages are best encrypted, whichever device you are using. Here are a few examples of the best encryption software you can use for laptops – and apps for mobile phones.

It’s also sensible to investigate being able to ‘wipe’ (delete) your data remotely if ever your device is lost or stolen.

Our end of the bargain

Security of data and security of systems work hand in hand. Whilst you need to do your bit, we also do ours. So we work with well-known specialist providers offering Managed Cloud Services to ensure that we have the latest security practices in place. There are regular security updates made to all our systems, ensuring they are safe from potential cyber threats. Plus all the data stored in our systems is backed up to ensure that we have a secure copy for whenever you may need it. Firewalls are in place too, preventing hackers from gaining access to any data, and with our specialist security partners, we also regularly test our systems to spot any potential vulnerabilities.

Together we’ll remain protected

As long as we work together, we can ensure that both your data and various devices remain safe and secure. So back up your data, keep your systems up-to-date and take good care of them and we’ll continue to manage things our end. Then you can relax this summer, and in fact, all year round, safe in the knowledge that your data and devices are secure.

Find a handy cyber-security leaflet on our website, and contact the support team if you have further queries on 0208 665 3200.

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!

Get your red trainers on!

We’re just over half way through another month, and it’s been a busy one for us all. Our fantastic sales team have been up and down the country throughout March presenting the Key Client Portal across the UK at events and conferences.

Integrating with both Mortgage Brain Classic and Mortgage Brain Anywhere, the Key is the industry’s leading back-office system, and its Client Portal now has a Fact Find functionality, which has made it even more sought-after!

For those of you who’ve not been lucky enough to bump into one of our team to find out what the Key offers, we’ve popped it all into a blog for you to explore for yourself.

The benefits: they’re for both you and your customer

The modern customer experience is a highlight of the Key’s Client Portal. Not only does the Portal provide your customer with a modern and efficient experience in their dealings with you, but it means that you can offer this as one of the main benefits for them to choose you as their broker.

The ease at which you can keep your clients up to date with the process of their application is another main highlight, with the Client Portal offering 24-hour access to both you and your customers via desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet.

Safe and secure

Security is a top priority for us, and we ensure that it can be for you as well. The Client Portal enables you to request, send, collate and receive information securely from and to your clients. It acts as a completely secure method of communication and data storage, so you can both ensure anything you share within the Client Portal is kept safe.

Client-focused Fact Find

Of the Key’s capabilities, it’s the digital Fact Find functionality that has received the most interest since its launch – and why it will be the main focus of this blog – so you can enhance your digital customer journey even further.

The Fact Find functionality is designed to enable clients to provide their information as and when it is convenient for them. This information is then automatically attached to their record within the Key. It means that you can collect hard facts before any initial meetings. This saves you time potentially taking up to 30 minutes of the mortgage process and means that potentially your client meeting can focus on advice, rather than spending much of it gathering this information.

You also have the ability to lock or unlock your clients’ access to the Fact Find so that you can control when they can update and access the data.

While the above aren’t the extent of the Key’s highlights, they’re the most notable ones that our customers have found most useful when using the Key and its Client Portal. You can discover plenty more on our dedicated section on our website, where you can also begin your 30-day free trial.

You can find out more about the Key Client Portal, and its online Fact Find, at events up and down the country. Our events page will keep you up to date with where you can find us, and we also share where we are on Twitter @Mortgage_Brain and LinkedIn.

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 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.

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!

A History of Mortgage Brain

We recently celebrated a milestone here at Mortgage Brain as we turned thirty years old. We’d like to think that we’ve aged gracefully, and made the most of our time since 1986, offering our customers the best products possible – and service with a smile.

Where did we come from?

Set up by Peter Nice, Mike Green and Barry Louvel back in the eighties, Mortgage Brain came from humble origins.

Peter built a small sourcing system for his wife, an estate agent, and Mortgage Brain was born. We offered the first sourcing system in the UK mortgage market available to all brokers, and thus started the thriving industry we know today.

Initially, product data and software updates were distributed via disk – sent in the post! It wasn’t all online, automatic and up to the minute as it is today.

Then it all changed…

As Mortgage Brain grew, the three founders decided to sell the company in 2001 to a consortium of lenders and Nationwide, Halifax (now Lloyds Banking Group) and Alliance & Leicester (now Santander) bought the business for £4.8m.

RBS, Northern Rock (now Virgin Money) and Barclays came on board a little later in December 2001, when the turnover was £2M and we had only one product channel – mortgage sourcing.

In an era of paper applications, the lenders who now owned Mortgage Brain were keen to make changes in the market. So, they brought in our CEO, Mark Lofthouse, to develop a trading platform that allowed mortgage applications to be completed, submitted and processed electronically.

Enter Mortgage Trading Exchange, which arrived in 2003, and has gone on to become the largest single delivery channel for mortgage placement in the industry. Today, more than 20% of all mortgage applications from brokers are processed via the platform.

Making waves

Three years later, we bought the Key, a point of sale system. At this time, the system was in its fledgling state following the introduction of MDay. Significant investment and development has led to the Key becoming the most widely used CRM system available with thousands of advisers relying on it to support their businesses on a daily basis.

A History of Mortgage Brain

There is no stopping for us

We then upped our game even further, launching MortgageBrain B2C in 2010, offering the industry’s first app, UKMortgages in 2012, and, a year later, bringing another industry first, iSourceMortgages, an iPad-based sourcing system to the table. To follow shortly in 2014 was MortgageBrain Anywhere, our online sourcing system developed as a solution to the growing demand for flexibility and ability to use multiple devices, and at the same time Mortgage Brain’s original desktop sourcing product was renamed MortgageBrain Classic.

More recently in 2015 we ventured into conveyancing sourcing with a case tracking portal with the launch of ConveyancingBrain – soon after followed by LoansBrain in 2016. The latter is a second charge sourcing website that remains freely available to all, and now in 2017, we have also integrated that functionality into our first charge sourcing systems.

Product accuracy and product data turnaround have always been crucially important to us, and today we continue to lead the field, with 90% of all product data requests from lenders being up and live on our sourcing systems within four hours, and 100% within eight hours. We also continue to adapt and enhance our products to ensure that they offer the latest in technology and support all the latest regulations – we never stand still!

 Ahead of the pack

We have consistently delivered specialist technology solutions ahead of our competitors since we began, and each year invest approximately 40% of our turnover into product development to ensure that you continually get the most out of our systems.

Our employees remain our best asset and the customer services team are on hand to support your queries or answer your question. We also are the only technology company to add an online chat facility to our website to help those who don’t want to pick up the phone. Plus our extensive library of resources to support our products with numerous videos and guides remains the best in our view.

We are very proud of who we are and what we have achieved.

Celebration time…

To celebrate our successful thirty years in business, we held a party in London at the end of April to raise money for a number of charities actively supported either through fundraising or volunteering by one or more of our Mortgage Brain colleagues.

The charities were Alzheimer’s Society, Birmingham Christmas Shelter, Contact the Elderly and Shooting Star Chase a leading children’s hospice charity. So far, we have raised a fantastic £50,245 for our incredible charities.

Here’s to another thirty years – and thirty more after that!