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.

Little Known Facts About Electronic Trading

Although electronic trading was greeted by brokers unenthusiastically upon its launch in 2003, it has since become one of the cornerstones of the mortgage industry. The simple idea, which began with our launch of Mortgage Trading Exchange (MTE), provided a way of delivering mortgage agreements in principle (AIPs), and processing applications seamlessly between brokers and lenders.

So, what’s happened since then? We thought we’d run down some facts you may not know about electronic trading, and how brokers have taken advantage of this fantastic weapon in their armoury.

Transactions have sky-rocketed
In the first year, around 150 transactions each week were being processed using MTE. Within a couple of years, this had changed to 2,500 weekly transactions, and now, there are between 4,000 and 5,000 mortgage transactions being completed via MTE – the total figure for electronic transactions via our system stands at over two million.

The mortgage sales process continues to be supported
Although some intermediaries were sceptical about it at first, electronic trading is actually designed to support brokers in completing the advice and sales process in, or away from, their office. It offers you offline access to lenders AIPs and full application forms, meaning you only need to go online to submit applications to supporting lenders.

It offers direct access to lenders
Systems such as MTE ensure that brokers can use lenders’ own application forms alongside the platform’s own generic ones. AIPs and applications sent using MTE also go direct to the lenders, without the need to pass through any other portal. It’s just like using the lender’s service, but with more flexibility.

The systems are compliant
Another worry about electronic trading upon its introduction to the industry was whether they would cope with the tough demands and requirements from the FSA/FCA. Fast forward to the future, and the systems have more than stood the test of time with regards to how compliant they are. They have faced hurdles such as MDay and the Mortgage Market Review and surfaced at the other end unscathed.

Flexibility is one of its main strengths
Electronic trading systems allow brokers to work offline and away from the internet. This means that if they client doesn’t have all the information to hand when the mortgage application is being filled out, the application can be stored and accessed at a later date. Most systems will also work with more than one sourcing system, or as a stand-alone application, to offer the broker more choice.

Electronic trading makes brokers faster
Short on time or under pressure? You’re not alone. Many intermediaries are facing the same problems; from other brokers, the internet, or customers with apps. The main problem is clear: competition is fierce, and in order to be ahead of the game, you need to be quick off the mark. Electronic trading can get you responses in less than a minute, and faster responses mean happier clients, more sales and greater efficiency.

Easy re-sending and tracking
Before electronic trading, having a client declined meant having to start an application from the very beginning in order to submit the same application to another lender. With systems like MTE, you can re-use data from a declined application and or AIP, saving you plenty of time and meaning you don’t have to fill out the same information repeatedly.

There are big names behind electronic trading
From its very beginning, electronic trading has had the support by many of the big names in banking. For example, our MTE system is jointly owned by Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, RBS, Virgin Money, Barclays and Santander – not only does this give you peace of mind that the system is safe and secure, it allows you to trade electronically with committed lenders who account for over 65% of mortgages provided by intermediaries.

Already using MTE? Then we’re sure you’ll be familiar with all the fantastic benefits an electronic trading system can offer you.

If this blog has made you think a little more about electronic trading, then you can start using MTE for free today. Simply download the system here, register your details, download your cookie/token, and submit your application forms. It’s as quick as that!

Introducing: New Secure Client Portal within the Key

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new online Client Portal within the Key: a facility where you and your clients can communicate and exchange documents securely and easily.

The Client Portal is the first in a series of enhancements being made to the Key this year, and is a functionality we’ve designed in order to improve and enhance the user experience and the adviser-client relationship.

So, what is it?
The new Client Portal is a virtual environment developed within the Key that allows you and your clients to exchange documents securely, as well as communicate through a secure messaging service.

Put simply, the Client Portal offers a secure space for you and your clients to share information and documentation, all in one place.

What are the main benefits?
The new functionality will enhance your service and support to your client. It will give you greater control and transparency of your exchanges with each of your clients. For your customers, the Portal allows them to upload and send you the documentation you request securely as well as enabling them to the view current status of their ongoing cases with you, be it mortgages, insurance or other products.

The interface is clean, straightforward and intuitive for your customers to navigate making this exchange of information and communication during the property purchasing process less stressful.
The online portal is available your customers on a 24/7 basis, and can be accessed via computer, tablet or smartphone, giving them complete freedom of choice as to when and where they log in.

Client Portal

How does it work?
Each client record will need to be set up for online access individually, to ensure that you can easily control which clients can access the Portal. This means you won’t have to create any unnecessary client accounts. Our user guide gives you step-by-step instructions on to how to do this.

In addition, because the Client Portal links directly to the Key database, only one person can access the client record at any one time which ensures complete data integrity throughout the system.

And what about the messaging service?
This is the place where you and your client can exchange messages with regard to their records and cases. It provides you both with a single place to communicate in, without the need to switch between the system and your emails, as well as peace of mind, with the knowledge that the Portal is completely secure.

The most recent secure messages will be displayed on the Portal’s home screen for your client’s convenience. Furthermore, every time there is a new message, your clients will receive an email so that they don’t have to keep logging into the Portal unnecessarily.

Similarly, in the Key, your clients’ messages are stored in one place, under each client record, making it much more efficient for you to access specific information about the cases you might be working on.

What’s in it for me and my client?
Your clients will not only be able to view their data, but also edit and upload their own information. Once you have initially set their client record up and activated it on the Portal, your client will be able to upload their own documents and data, which eliminates the need to send sensitive personal information via email.

The Portal will also save you time. Because it is linked directly to the Key database, there is no need to re-enter any data you already have on file for your clients. It’s simple to use and lets you work more efficiently.

Interested in finding out more? Make sure you read our full user guide in our Help and training section.

If you don’t yet have the Key, download your 30-day free trial by clicking here.