Getting to know…Hayley Gateson

Each month, we’re shining a spotlight on the people that make up the Mortgage Brain family, by asking them a few questions to find out what makes them tick. So, join us for a coffee break with…

Hayley Gateson

Hayley works within the direct sales team and focusses on helping customers to optimise their online presence or build new professional-looking websites as part of our website services, MortgageBrain B2C.

Hayley, thanks for letting us get to know you better. Firstly, let’s start with a few questions about your time at Mortgage Brain. How long have you been working with the company?

I started at Mortgage Brain straight after leaving college, it was my first job, and I started as an office junior. At that time, there were only 15-20 staff. One of my roles was doing the weekly disk updates, which had all the product updates from that week.

I worked my way up to customer services and continued the progression in this role until, aged 21, I decided to go travelling for a year.
I stayed in contact with the company as it doubled, even tripled in size, and found myself back in the fold after a few years.

So, all in all, I have worked for Mortgage Brain for over 20 years and I’ve seen the business grow into the success it is today.

What’s your favourite thing about working in the mortgage industry?

The continuous change within the market, and the growing need for technology and opportunities.

So, you’ve seen some big changes during your time with Mortgage Brain. Have you seen this in the industry over the time you’ve been with Mortgage Brain?

Yes, a great deal. There is more choice out there for brokers, more systems and companies working together to make the sales process better for the end user. When I started, there was no such thing as a CRM platform – everything was paper. A CRM was a drawer full of folders!

The understanding of how products and integrations can help streamline a broker’s day-to-day sales process is so much better. People sharing their knowledge and the emergence of social media has had a massive impact. Lenders have also evolved their practices to better support brokers.

Now, for some quick-fire personal trivia. What do you like to do to relax during your leisure time?

Well, it’s not relaxing that’s for sure. I love the gym, I love everything fitness-related as everyone at Mortgage Brain knows – I’m known as a bit of a machine when it comes to working out. At the moment I’m enjoying cycling into work every day.

Of course, I also love spending time with my family and relaxing with a glass or bottle of wine.

You said you love travelling. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would love to visit the Maldives and I love the idea of New Orleans. I plan to visit Santorini when this pandemic is all over. It was a birthday gift from my parents.

Do you have a claim to fame?

Yes, Marc Bolan (T-Rex) is my mum’s cousin. In fact, the song ‘Telegram Sam’ was written about my uncle!

Red sauce, brown sauce, or no sauce at all?

Brown, all day long. However, when I was younger, it was red sauce.

You can take one item to a desert island with you, what would it be?

A kettlebell.

What is your all-time-favourite music track?

I don’t have any one genre I like, I tend to listen to all types of music. Obviously, I’m a bit of a ‘garage’ girl, but I do love “Wish I Didn’t Miss you” by Angie Stone.

Do you have any phobias?

Clowns. I think that comes from when I was younger, and my nan had a massive vase which stood in the corner of the room and looked like a clown.

What achievement in your life are you most proud of?

My children.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs – However, I don’t own one although I have in the past. I thought it was a good idea for my children. After eight weeks I couldn’t cope, and it had to go back to the breeder to be re-homed.

Have you ever met anyone famous?

Tyson Fury – he gave me a kiss when I met him because it was my birthday.

Duke McKenzie – also a professional boxer. I trained in his gym for 10 years.

Spandau Ballet – my uncle was their minder for many years, and they used to turn up at my nan’s house!

Coffee or tea?

As I’ve gotten older, coffee, but I do love a cup of tea with biscuits some evenings.

Hayley, many thanks for talking to us.

https://www.mortgage-brain.co.uk/Mortgage-Brain-Blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Getting-to-know-Haley-Gateson-1.pdf

Are you missing out on second charge business?

Second charge lending totalled £91.4m in March 2021, an increase of 31.27% on the previous month[1], and data from Loans Warehouse has revealed that second charge lending is continuing to recover from the impact of the pandemic with 1,908 second charge loans reaching completion in April 2021, a 278% increase on April 2020[2].

Yet a survey by Brightstar showed that 74% of advisers do not tell their clients they offer second charge mortgages[3]. But why? Especially as it has now been four years since advisers were required to consider second charge mortgages alongside other options for raising capital, and they fell under the same regulations as first charge products.

The common answer advisers give is that they lack the time to do so or simply forget[4] but they share other concerns too[5].

  • They don’t fully understand the details
  • They don’t know exactly when to recommend a second charge product
  • They don’t know how to place a second charge product
  • Their customers are wary of second charge products
  • There is a myth that second charge products are expensive
  • There are concerns over lots of paperwork

Why a second charge mortgage?

The past 12 months have been extremely challenging for the finances of borrowers, and for many the possibility of cutting the cost of their debts and consolidating their loans through a second charge mortgage is highly attractive[6].

Data from Evolution Money shows that when it comes to second charge mortgages, 59% were borrowing for debt consolidations, 29% for home improvements and debt consolidation, with 9% purely home improvements.  Borrowers using a second charge mortgage for debt consolidation purposes did so with an average loan amount of £20.5k[7].

But there are many other reasons why a second charge mortgage could be a great option for your customer. They offer value to those who are[8]:

  • Tied into a current mortgage with redemption penalties
  • Benefiting from an existing low mortgage rate but wanting to raise capital
  • Being offered a further advance with a higher rate
  • Currently on an interest only mortgage product
  • Wishing to raise capital for business purposes, including deposits for buy-to-let mortgages
  • Keen to retain their current mortgage product but have historic adverse credit
  • Recently self-employed, retired or attract income from multiple sources
  • Raising capital on buy-to-let property to increase portfolio

Lenders embrace second charge products

Lenders realise the potential for the market and are changing the way they handle second charge products. This is evidenced by changing behaviours including revising the maximum LTV they offer, changing the lending criteria, or cutting rates to deliver greater value and be more competitive.

Specialist lender, West One Loans, has recently confirmed a move to 85% LTV on its second charge offering whilst United Trust Bank removed the monetary value when assessing adverse credit units as part of its criteria. And, Together has cut its variable rate to 4.29% up to 75% LTV[9].

All this is good news for the second charge market, sending a signal that lenders are keen to lend. It also makes second charge mortgages more widely available and broadens the appeal.

Additionally, there is optimism from those within the market. Richard Bond, personal finance director, Crystal SF said home improvements and debt consolidation still offer the best opportunities for second charges.

He said recently: “Looking at some stats from rates.com, 89 per cent of the millennial age, so 25 to 34-year-olds, are looking to undertake renovations this year like loft extensions. Although debt consolidation took a back seat in 2020 it will come back this year as there’s still a lot of pent-up demand there,”[10].

Using technology to speed up the process

Technology has a big part to play in the burgeoning second charge market. Research carried out by Nivo in 2020 reviewed customer journeys with lenders and advisers[11]. It showed that in the typical loan cycle it is the broker (55% of hours of effort), rather than the lender (20% of hours of effort) that does the most work to get the deal done. Lenders agreed that improving broker efficiency was the major opportunity, with the need to give them a simpler, smoother, and more consistent service. Additionally, the research showed that reducing deal time and the effort the customer needed to make results in more conversions[12].

Comment from advisers was that most of their time was involved with administration when they wanted to be able to spend more time adding value with customers.

Both of Mortgage Brain’s product sourcing solutions are well equipped to help speed up your processes and simplify the search for second charge products. MortgageBrain Classic and MortgageBrain Anywhere both have second charge sourcing fully integrated making it easy to compare first and second charge products side by side to quickly find the best one for your customer. You can search based on different scenarios such as terms, payment types, and loan amounts too.

Whether you decide to use a master broker or go direct to a lender, the filters within our product sourcing platforms cater for both options and make the process quick and easy.

Isn’t it time you took advantage of this potential revenue stream?


[1] https://www.moneyage.co.uk/second-charge-lending-jumps-31-in-march.php

[2] https://www.mortgagefinancegazette.com/lending-news/second-charge-mortgages/second-charge-loans-daily-completions-rise-12-05-2021/

[3] https://brightstarhub.co.uk/the-results-are-in-our-second-charge-mortgage-survey-results-are-surprising/

[4] https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/view-from/6-common-concerns-brokers-have-about-second-charge-mortgages-and-how-to-get-over-them/

[5] https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/view-from/6-common-concerns-brokers-have-about-second-charge-mortgages-and-how-to-get-over-them/

[6] https://www.mortgageintroducer.com/second-charge-optimism-is-shining-through/

[7] https://www.credit-connect.co.uk/consumer-news/prime-borrowers-fuel-second-charge-lending-increase/

[8] https://positivelending.co.uk/seconds/

[9] https://www.mortgageintroducer.com/we-should-celebrate-second-charge-lenders-raising-their-game/

[10] https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/specialist-lending/2021/02/11/tsle2021-second-charge-loan-climb-back-is-well-underway/

11 https://www.nivohub.com/blog/the-role-of-technology-in-second-charge-market-recovery

[12] https://www.mortgageintroducer.com/the-role-of-technology-in-second-charge-market-recover/

Social media for advisers – where to start?

Research shows that the value of all residential mortgage loans was £1,541.4 billion at the end of 2020, 2.9% higher than a year earlier [1]. However, with new mortgage brokers setting up every week you need to be able to protect, and grow your market share.

Social media offers a free and effective way to reach customers, and you can gain instant access to thousands of consumers using social media, but where do you start? And, how do you maximise your time online? In this article, we explore how social media can give you that competitive edge.

Why use social media?

Your website acts as your shop window but social media goes further by providing opportunities to promote your business, as well as directing users to your website. Being part of a social media community can help you:

  • Promote your business and communicate with potential customers
  • Network with fellow brokers and connect with lenders
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments in the mortgage market
  • Link with industry influencers who may open doors for you

By posting engaging, relevant content and promoting your profiles to others on the right channels, you can help boost your reputation and recognition amongst your target audience.

Which platforms should you use?

From Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn, the myriad of channels can be overwhelming making it hard to know which one/s to focus on. So, how do you decide what is going to work for you?

Don’t attempt to use more than two channels when starting out on social media. Perhaps start with one and build from there. This will ensure the quality of your messages remains of a high standard and you can post regularly.

Twitter (best for reach)

The main benefit of Twitter is that it is an open network. While LinkedIn and Facebook both have closed networks, whereby you must ‘connect’ or ‘follow’ someone for them to see your content, Twitter is open to everyone. Unless your account is on a private setting, people can see your tweets and get involved in discussions, especially if you use hashtags.

Twitter Top Tips:
  1. Using relevant hashtags can make your content discoverable to the right people e.g., #MortgageAdvisers, #FirstTimeBuyer, #MortgageNews, etc. Make sure you only use two or three, so your post doesn’t end up looking like spam.
  2. Due to its newsfeed nature, content on Twitter moves quickly. Plan to post once/twice a day, try and post interesting or unexpected facts, or things you would like to see, don’t just focus on your product/services.
  3. Remember, Twitter is very conservational, use @MENTION to reach out to followers, customers, or fellow brokers.
  4. As well as posting your own content, you can curate others by retweeting industry news/posts and commenting.
LinkedIn (best for networking)

LinkedIn is a prime platform for mortgage advisers to find and network with like-minded peers. It is traditionally a professional network, where discussions tend to centre on industry-related subjects. This means that most of your connections are likely to be people you work with and other industry contacts you may know. You can also join groups about topics you’re interested in or connect with like-minded people, such as the Mortgage Brain [2] group.

You can create a personal profile as well as a company page for your business to post your content and updates to promote your services to other businesses and potential customers. LinkedIn also gives you the ability to see what your competitors are posting, recruit new talent, and get inspiration from leaders in your industry.

LinkedIn Top Tips:
  1. You can use hashtags on LinkedIn as well as Twitter. This is an excellent way to make sure your content is more discoverable. Remember, stick to one or two per post.
  2. Visual content is important, include a mixture of images, videos, and documents, when sharing content. There has been a shift in LinkedIn since the pandemic, content is becoming more personable. Consider content such as #MeetTheTeam or #BehindTheScenes so people can see the people behind your brand.
  3. Encourage your employees to engage with you on LinkedIn. Liking and sharing your content will ensure you reach more people.
  4. You can follow different industry or topical conversations with hashtags. Currently, #MortgageBroker has over 7,000 followers.
Facebook (best for attracting consumers)

With nearly three billion active users, Facebook is the biggest social network in the world [3]. With those numbers, it makes sense to use Facebook if you want to reach out to consumers or market upcoming events. However, there is a lot of noise on Facebook, so you need to be clever with what content you post. Most people on Facebook use it to keep up-to-date with family and friends, or for downtime, so to market your brand effectively you need to think about what people would be interested to see, and not just promote your products/services.

Facebook Top Tips:
  1. Your personal Facebook profile with party and children’s photos won’t get you far in the mortgage world, so for business promotion, it is a good idea to create a Facebook company page to act as the hub of your marketing on this channel.
  2. Ensure you set up a business page so you can showcase your services, opening times and contact details (a normal page won’t do this) – Facebook guides you through the process and has a great help centre should you need it.
  3. Facebook is also a brilliant platform to provide customer support. You can find out a lot about your customers’ needs and interact with them instantly.
  4. To get you started with content, consider asking your team what questions customers ask them the most and create content around that.

Final Words

If you have your own business and are looking to grow your client base, it’s best to first focus on establishing your presence on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn. You can share similar content across all three sites whilst ensuring you reach a variety of audiences since different people use different networks.

If you work for a larger company and would like to expand your industry presence as an individual, you can start with a Twitter account or a LinkedIn profile. You can get involved in discussions on Twitter and tweet from meetings or events to get involved in a conversation with fellow brokers. Start building connections with colleagues on LinkedIn and explore any groups you can join to meet new people to network online with.

Good luck!

[1] https://www.fca.org.uk/data/mortgage-lending-statistics

[2] https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2895604/

[3] https://sproutsocial.com/insights/facebook-stats-for-marketers/

Green mortgages – a blossoming trend

With climate change constantly in the headlines and the government aiming to make the UK carbon net zero by 2050[1], energy efficiency in the housing sector is coming into sharper focus with ambitious aims for UK new build homes to be highly energy-efficient and zero-carbon ready by 2025[2].

A report from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) has shed light on how the market for green mortgages looks set to gather momentum as we become more eco aware.  Here we look at some of the key findings from IMLA’s research[3] and what it means for the mortgage industry.

What is a Green Mortgage?

Green mortgages are relatively new products, and the market is still in its infancy. In 2017, the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy revealed their blueprint for a low carbon future and introduced the concept of green mortgages in the UK.

A green mortgage gives borrowers preferential terms in the form of lower interest rates, increased loan amounts, or cash incentives, if they can demonstrate the property they are borrowing on meets certain environmental standards, whether that is for a new build or energy efficient renovations to an existing property.

There are benefits for both parties in a green mortgage [4].

  • For lenders, a borrower with a green mortgage is in a better financial position to pay back the loan as a green building costs less to run.
  • For the borrower, their energy efficient property has an increased value over a similar property that does not meet the desired levels of energy efficiency and there are often rewards within the green mortgage itself.

Gathering momentum and breaking down barriers

As with any change, there are challenges for green mortgages. Firstly, UK lender affordability calculations generally do not take energy performance into account, making it difficult to record. However, in 2020, Monmouthshire Building Society became the first UK lender to recognise energy ratings as part of their affordability calculations [5], perhaps encouraging more lenders to follow suit .

Next, there is a misconception amongst the end users in the market that green mortgages are more expensive with 33% of consumers in IMLA’s research expecting that to be the case. However, this is not the case with 72% of lenders having launched green products that cost the same as conventional products or less. Interestingly, 20% of consumers indicated that they would be willing to pay an extra £100 a month for a green mortgage if it would lower their carbon footprint, with other drivers for them taking such a product being:

  • Saving money on energy bills
  • Helping to save the environment
  • Making the property more desirable by improving energy efficiency
  • Access to better mortgage rates
  • Increasing the value of the property 

Additionally, there is a lack of promotion and awareness of green mortgages with IMLA’s research showing that 43% of consumers had never heard of a green mortgage naturally resulting in low demand for the products.

Barclays were the first big lender to launch green mortgage products back in 2018, although Ecology Building Society were the pioneers of such a product as far back as 1981 [6]. Barclays were soon followed by lenders such as Nationwide, Saffron Building Society, and Kensington with others indicating an intention to launch green products to market in the future [7].

Indeed, specialist lender Foundation Home Loans recently revealed they are launching a ‘Green Reward’ remortgage product as part of its residential range, which will be available to existing homeowners or occupiers who have raised their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to ‘C’ or above through improvements to their home[8].

Recently, Nationwide Building Society launched a new product called ‘green reward’ which offers £500 cashback to those buying a property with an EPC rating of A, and £250 for properties with an EPC rating of B, in an attempt to encourage more people to buy more energy efficient homes. This is in conjunction with their lowest ever advance rate of 0.75% for sustainable home improvements which includes energy efficient home improvements such as loft, floor, and cavity wall insulation; triple glazing windows; air source heat pumps; and electric car charging stations for which homeowners could borrow between £5,000 and £25,000[9].

IMLA’s report reflects the optimism of the green mortgage market with 58% of intermediaries and 74% of lenders expecting to see demand grow over the next few years.

The hurdles to green mortgages are not insurmountable, and in fact, mostly lie within a lack of understanding of the products, which can be remedied. For example, the government’s Green Finance Strategy put forward a £5m fund to help the financial sector develop green home finance products which triggered the launch of several green mortgage products, helping to raise awareness amongst consumers.

As for future growth, IMLA’s research showed that 74% of lenders believe financial incentives from the government will help to push the market forward. Last year, the government announced a £2bn Green Homes Grant package to help homeowners make energy efficient upgrades to their properties, of which the IMLA report says there are 29 million in the UK.

The lenders view

Lenders appear to be dealing with green mortgage in differing ways with many keen to support the market, some offering lower interest rates and some cash incentives. Kensington for instance is rewarding customers with £1,000 cash back incentives on energy efficient or green renovations to existing properties , whether for buying an older home or simple remortgaging [10].

Furthermore, the mortgage industry is being driven towards green adoption by companies like fund managers BlackRock who have an interest in the UK mortgage market and are responsible for investing trillions into companies that are working towards sustainable practices [11]. Last January, BlackRock wrote to their clients outlining their belief that sustainability risk, and climate risk in particular, mean investment risk and as such sustainability is a key component of the way the way the engage with companies [12].

Supporting green mortgages with technology

The green mortgage market needs a brighter light shining upon it and whilst financial incentives from the government are a welcome addition, technology can also play its part too. IMLA‘s report states that 14% of advisers have customers who have enquired about or taken out a green mortgage. Whilst that figure is low, given the information, it is likely to grow. So, advisers should ask themselves if their sourcing software can help to make finding these products simpler?

MortgageBrain sourcing products make it quicker and easier to cut through the noise with advanced filtering that helps find that niche product your client is looking for. Are green mortgages an untapped business opportunity for you?

To find out more about MortgageBrain products and how you can take advantage of a quickly developing market email sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk.


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-becomes-first-major-economy-to-pass-net-zero-emissions-law

[2] https://www.energylivenews.com/2021/01/20/all-new-build-homes-in-the-uk-to-be-zero-carbon-ready-by-2025

[3] http://www.imla.org.uk/resources/publications/imla-green-mortgages.pdf

[4] https://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/what-are-green-mortgages-how-will-they-revolutionise-home-energy-efficiency

[5] https://www.financialreporter.co.uk/mortgages/new-green-mortgages-to-consider-energy-efficiency-in-affordability-calculations.html

[6] https://www.whatmortgage.co.uk/news/saffron-joins-lenders-offering-green-mortgages/

[7] http://www.imla.org.uk/resources/publications/imla-green-mortgages.pdf

[8] https://www.moneyage.co.uk/foundation-home-loans-launches-green-reward-remortgage.php

[9] https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-9515635/Green-mortgages-Nationwide-latest-lender-offer-cashback.html

[10] https://www.financialreporter.co.uk/mortgages/kensington-launches-energy-efficiency-reward-mortgage.html

[11] https://www.ft.com/content/57db9dc2-3690-11ea-a6d3-9a26f8c3cba4

[12] https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/investor-relations/blackrock-client-letter


 

Simplifying the mortgage journey

Being a mortgage adviser isn’t solely about finding the perfect product. In this technological age, it is the service your customer receives during the mortgage process that can set you apart from your competitors. Customers expect a swift conclusion to their search for the perfect mortgage with two in five expecting to be able to engage with their intermediary through physical and digital channels[1].

No two cases are the same and customers’ circumstances can change quickly posing advisers with additional challenges when performing their mortgage research. Equally, with ever-changing policies and product availability, it can be a long process.

The more complex cases become, the more time you need to spend on administration and sourcing activities, with calls to many different lenders or visits to their websites looking for accurate information, or even continually re-keying a customer’s information into various platforms as the case progresses. It can be time consuming, and customers expect more with so much technology available.

Embracing digitalisation

Making full use of technology and embracing digitalisation can help you to make your processes more efficient, the information you gather more accurate, reduce the amount of re-keying, and minimise the time you spend researching whilst approaching a wider portion of the market, resulting in a better experience for your customers.

To a certain extent, the pandemic has already necessitated the use of more technology, with lockdowns meaning that face-to-face meetings were no longer possible which forced a move to digital communications and virtual meetings. Indeed 2020 (and the start of 2021) has added to existing pressures and acted as a catalyst to drive the digitalisation of the mortgage market[2], disrupting and shaping areas such as:

  • Processes/technology transformation
  • Customer insight
  • Personalised customer experience
  • Innovation of products and services

Businesses are starting to appreciate the benefits of digitalisation and the need to meet customer expectations of speed and excellence of service, with 70% of organisations having a digital transformation strategy in 2020[3].

So where should you start with your digitalisation strategy?

The journey starts here

It starts with your website. It is likely to be the first impression potential customers will have of your business and the place where a good percentage of your leads are generated. If your website is not visually appealing, does not contain quality content or is hard to navigate, users will pass you by. Never underestimate the impact a professional looking website has at a time when customer expectations are higher than ever.

MortgageBrain B2C is a professional web service that means you can obtain an eye-catching website alongside mortgage search and best buy tables as plug-ins that will encourage users to complete and submit an enquiry form. Our experts do all the work for you, so you don’t need any technical knowledge.

Time-saving technology – reuse client data, minimise errors

How much time do you spend re-keying customer information as you take them through their mortgage journey? And how many errors can appear because of that? Again, technology can save you time and reduce errors by limiting the amount of rekeying.

Using Mortgage Brain’s back office system, The Key, can save you time throughout your entire process whilst meeting evolving customer expectations by granting access to the Client Portal where you can securely exchange documents and messages, and even track cases 24/7, again speeding up daily tasks and meeting customer expectations for secure and speedy communication.

Customers can generate an enquiry on your website which is pulled through to The Key. From here, you can issue an online Fact Find enabling the customer to enter all the necessary information themselves, and once that information is complete it is returned to The Key. Next, you can securely transfer this client data into other Mortgage Brain solutions such as product sourcing and online application submissions without the need for re-keying!

As Mortgage Brain’s online application and submission platform Lendex is integrated with The Key, you can start an application using all the information contained within the back office system. Lendex is a free and easy to use service that provides the ability to digitally complete, submit, administer, and track applications to multiple lenders from a single log in.

Transforming mortgage sourcing

When it comes to sourcing, customers want swift answers on which products are available to them and expect that information to be accurate and up to date. For you, the process can be time consuming. Finding a product that suits the needs of your customer, matches their criteria, and is affordable involves detailed research.

Here, technology can generate huge advantages in time saved, while providing a robust audit trail and accuracy of research that gives you confidence that submissions to lenders will be right first time, leaving­­­ customers with an enhanced and less stressful experience.

Streamlining existing processes as opposed to creating new ones, while showing evidence of decisions across multiple areas of the research journey (where it may have previously been reliant on a phone call) can support businesses to embrace technology without a drastic overhauling of the sales process.

For example, using a platform such as Criteria Hub gives you the ability to quickly perform a search of up to six criteria across over 70 lenders, many of which you may otherwise not have been exposed to or thought to approach, particularly more specialist lenders. The search results include the power to expand lender notes including outside policy information that is otherwise not readily publicly available, and then produce supporting documents that offer a significant time saving on the manual alternative of researching each criteria on each lender’s website.

Imagine if this information could then be accessed and transferred during a product sourcing journey? Full integration with the market-leading product sourcing solutions MortgageBrain Classic and MortgageBrain Anywhere means you can do this within a single journey for further efficiencies.

When determining a client’s affordability, Affordability Hub can accelerate the process by providing a platform to populate a single standardised form with your client’s property, complex income types, expenditure, and debt, that is then sent to the affordability calculators of 35 lenders with detailed results returned for each. For you, taking advantage of such digitalisation would enable a wider view of the market and in a fraction of the time, in line with customer expectations.

As standalone products, these are compelling solutions but combining all three means you can add efficiency and time savings to your processes by being able to get a complete picture of the market from within a single suite of technology. All this with the additional benefit of having all research supported by documentation to meet compliance regulations.

Give your business the edge

Digitalisation and technology are moving on apace, the time to embrace the possibilities they offer is now. They help you meet the high expectations of your customers, give you an advantage over your competitors, and will future-proof your business ready for any new developments that can give it a boost.

Find out more by contacting sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk


[1] https://www.cognizant.com/whitepapers/the-path-ahead-for-mortgage-digitisation-codex3796.pdf

[2] https://www.experian.co.uk/blogs/latest-thinking/data-and-innovation/latest-mortgage-and-housing-market-trends-and-key-factors-for-2021/

[3] https://financesonline.com/digital-transformation-statistics/

Being cyber secure

The threat of online security risks including cyberattacks, malware, and phishing scams will always exist. Cybercriminals are constantly evolving to become more complex and convincing, meaning your business must stay vigilant and take steps to protect itself, its employees, and its customers.

Startling statistics reveal that in the UK, a small business is hacked successfully every 19 seconds. Across both small and medium-sized businesses 65,000 cyberattacks are executed every day, with 4,500 of those being successful[1].

Worryingly, attacks are increasing in frequency with 46% of businesses reporting a cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months with many experiencing issues at least once a week. Of those, 19% experienced financial or data loss while 39% suffered loss through business disruption or having to implement new measures to stop a recurrence[2].

Pandemic predators

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a surge in online activity creating more opportunities for cybercriminals to steal data, and employees working from home also provide new targets[3]:

  • Coronavirus blamed for 238% rise in attacks on banks
  • 80% of firms have seen an increase in cyberattacks
  • Cloud-based attacks rose 630% between January and April 2020
  • Phishing attempts have risen 600% since the end of February.

Types of threats and staying safe

The term ‘hacker’ covers professional criminals and disgruntled employees alike but regardless of name, they are developing new methods of attack all the time. Throughout the cyber security industry, the eight main threats to be aware of are deemed to be as follows, together with some actions to try and stay safe, as recommended by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the government, and major security companies:

Malware – makes your computer/network malfunction or grants the attacker access and control with varieties such as worms, viruses or trojans.

Phishingmalicious emails designed to fool people in disclosing details or taking action that is damaging for the business.

Ransomwaredenies a user access to their own system by locking it behind a paywall rendering it unusable until a ransom is paid.

To minimise the likelihood of becoming a victim of malware, phishing, and ransomware, or similar threats, industry experts recommend taking the following precautions:

  • only use current and updated web browsers and operating systems;
  • scan new disks and files with anti-virus software;
  • avoid giving out personal data to unsolicited calls, emails or texts;
  • don’t click links in emails you were note expecting;
  • only download from trusted websites and sources;
  • do not click unverified links;
  • avoid use of public wi-fi networks;
  • and use a virtual private network (VPN) where possible.

Other types of threat

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) – designed to overwhelm either your database or website by bombarding them with more requests than they can handle, causing them to become unresponsive.

To avoid becoming victim of a distributed denial of service attack, industry experts suggest that you:

  • ensure your business/website has enough bandwidth to handle spikes in traffic;
  • spread your servers across multiple data centres and distribute traffic between them;
  • protect servers with network firewalls, web application firewalls, and load balancers.

Man in the Middle – pretending to be a reputable business using a fake website or intercepting a connection with the intent of harvesting data from users. These attacks often occur through unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.

There are several steps that experts say will counter these attacks, for instance:

  • educate employees not to use public networks;
  • use virtual private network (VPN) for secure connections;
  • monitor networks and devices for unusual activity;
  • use up to date and secure browsers;
  • implement two-factor authentication.

Structured Query Language (SQL) Injection – hackers insert a malicious code into an SQL server to make it release information.

Cyber security professional suggest preventing SQL Injection attacks by:

  • using a web application firewall;
  • and creating multiple database user accounts meaning only specific and trusted individuals can access the database.

Password attacks – whether guessing a user’s password or using software to do so, once obtained the cyber attacker has complete access to the system and all its information.

To combat password attacks, experts suggest implementing a password policy that promotes strong passwords. A strong password includes:

  • at least 12 characters;
  • no personal information;
  • a combination of numbers, symbols, capital letters and lower-case letters.

Zero-day exploits – exploiting software’s vulnerabilities, especially as they age. That is why it always important to keep software updated and apply any security patches that are issued.

Cyber security professionals suggest your business can reduce the risk of zero-day exploit attacks by:

  • using solutions that can scan for vulnerabilities;
  • installing software patches as soon as they become available;
  • utilising data validation to test any input supplied by an application or user.

­With heightened motivation and opportunity for cyber criminals, cyber security specialists say it’s important to review your cyber security regime and address any vulnerabilities that may leave your business at risk. Kaspersky estimated in 2019 that 41% of consumers left themselves open to security risk by using unsupported or near end-of-life operating systems like Windows XP or Windows 7[4].

The NCSC suggest a cyber security checklist for SMEs:

  • Knowledge is power

Establish a channel of communication to enable the exchange of information including policies and training to maintain awareness of cyber risks to your business.

  • Secure your network

Monitor and test your network, and secure its perimeter to stop unauthorised access or malicious content from entering.

  • Stop malware

Use up to date web browsers, ensure anti-virus software is used to scan disks and files; don’t give out personal data, and don’t click links in unsolicited emails.

  • Don’t go public

Public Wi-Fi is more vulnerable to being intercepted so reduce and avoid use where possible.

  • Keep systems updated

System security patches must be applied as soon as possible to ensure security configuration is maintained and avoid exploitation of vulnerabilities.

  • Control access

Limit user privileges and the number of privileged accounts to control access to systems. Restrict access to activity and audit logs.

  • Be ready to react

Prepare an incident response strategy and test your disaster recovery capabilities. Activate specialist company-wide training and report any criminal incidents to relevant authorities.

  • Monitor activity

Monitor all your systems and networks and look for any unusual activity that could indicate an attack. Set up a strategy and policies across the business to do this.

  • Away from the office

Ensure all staff understand the risks of home and mobile working and train them to follow protocols with ways to protect data at all times.

  • Strengthen passwords

Implement a password policy that promotes strong passwords that contain at least 12 characters, no personal information and a combination of numbers, symbols, and capital/lower case characters.

  • Start at the top
    Board and senior management must assess risk to information and systems within the business to establish a risk management regime.

Look out for further information on this topic from future blogs.


[1] http://hrnews.co.uk/cyber-security-statistics-in-the-uk-reveal-troubling-figures/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2020/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2020

[3] https://www.fintechnews.org/the-2020-cybersecurity-stats-you-need-to-know/

[4] https://www.kaspersky.com/about/press-releases/2019_consumers-still-use-unsupported-and-near-end-of-life-os

Lockdown Love

In challenging times like these, it is more important than ever to reflect on the positives and share some love. And what better time than during February with Valentine’s Day approaching!

Our ‘Love Your Customer’ campaign this year goes under the title of Lockdown Love and we have lots of exciting activities that focus on sharing a bit of joy and love with both customers and colleagues to recognise their loyalty to us.

It’s also the perfect time to raise money to try and help some worthy causes. This year our chosen charities will be:

  • RSPCA: Animal welfare charity
  • Mind: Mental health charity
  • Alzheimer’s Society: A charity for people with dementia and their carers
  • Macmillan Cancer Support: A charity that provides specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer.

Lockdown Love for our customers

There are plenty of ways our customers can take part and support charity:

Corporate cares: Throughout February, during select meetings and training sessions with our incredible corporate team, customers will be asked to choose one of the above charities for Mortgage Brain to make a charitable contribution to on their behalf.

Prize draw: We want to hear from our customers about one act of kindness they have either performed or received during an incredibly challenging twelve months. Each unique entry will be placed into our prize draw. We’ll randomly select a winner on 16 February who will win a £50 Amazon voucher and a £250 charitable donation will be made to their chosen charity1. Enter here!

Photo competition: We’d love to see photos of the strangest places our customers have worked from during the pandemic OR the most entertaining home-schooling moment you’ve experienced. Submit your photos on Twitter or LinkedIn using either #WFH or #homeschooling and tag Mortgage Brain. On March 1st our judges will choose a winner for each category both of which will receive a £50 Amazon voucher1!

Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to join in with all the fun.

Customers can help spread the Lockdown Love by getting involved with any of the activities which willrun throughout the month.

We will be sharing messages and promoting our customers and competitions through our social media channels on Twitter and LinkedIn using the hashtag #lockdownlove.

We also have one or two surprises in store, so be sure to follow us on social media to keep up-to-date!

Lockdown Love for our colleagues

Throughout the month, we also want to recognise the amazing effort from our colleagues throughout a difficult year. Working from home can be challenging to adapt to but remarkably everyone rose to the challenge and still managed to carry on developing and launching innovative new solutions like Affordability Hub plus tools to support the industry such as the Lender Service Levels Report.

We will be running a prize draw and a competition for our colleagues who can get involved by:

  1. Sending in photos that show the one thing they have loved most to help them get through a challenging 12 months.
  2. Sharing the ways in which they met their partners.

So, we have lots of fun in store for everyone. Why not take your mind off lockdown for five minutes and take part in some of the activities, spread some Lockdown Love and raise some money for great causes.

Best wishes

The Mortgage Brain Team

1 Full Terms and Conditions can be found here.

2020 Vision: Looking back

Throughout an undoubtably challenging year, businesses across the world have worked tirelessly to combat the impact of the pandemic on both their business and their industries.

During this time, Mortgage Brain is proud to have not only powered through but to have continued to support the industry through innovations and developments including launching the COVID-19 support hub, a lender service levels report and our affordability sourcing product, Affordability Hub.

We’ve taken time to reflect on the challenges and successes of the year which we’re pleased to share with you.

Information overload

Early on in the pandemic, a key challenge was identified as the overwhelming amount of information being released on a daily basis. Advisers struggled to keep track of the rapid changes to products available, policies and lender’s criteria. The volume of information was vast, and the situation was evolving rapidly. So how could an adviser be sure the information given to a client was up-to-date and accurate without having to invest significant time scouring the internet?

By utilising a combination of product information, criteria updates, and an industry news feed, Mortgage Brain rapidly developed a portal that was free and available for anyone to access which collated all this information to provide one source of truth about the pandemic’s impact on the market. In April this launched as part of the COVID-19 Support Hub on Criteria Hub which includes easily accessible resources covering:

  • Lenders Impact Page allowing advisers to access regularly updated information populated direct from the lenders themselves, and
  • COVID-19 News Portal displaying criteria, product, and industry news as it was released

The COVID-19 Support Hub has proved to be very popular with almost 13,500 visits to the portal from the start of April through to the end of July, 7800 of which were registered Criteria Hub users. All this essential market information can still be accessed for free via the Criteria Hub website.

Efficiency as a currency

With many businesses being reliant on smaller teams due to operational restrictions, the value of time increased exponentially. As a mortgage technology expert, we are constantly reviewing how technology can help advisers and lenders alike streamline their processes.

For advisers, Affordability Hub: This innovative new solution uses just one simple form to capture details of a client’s property, income, debt, and expenditure. Once this is done there is no re-keying needed as this standardised form can be submitted to the affordability calculators of all lenders on the platform. Within a minute results are returned including a screenshot of each lender’s decision page, giving advisers a complete audit trail for compliance. The platform has truly been embraced with over 30 lenders live and with hundreds of searches being undertaken each hour with a total of £10 billion of affordability searches performed in the first three months since launch.

For advisers, transforming sourcing: To further enhance the sourcing journey for customers, Mortgage Brain launched an integration from its product sourcing systems that enables customers to access information from Criteria Hub providing a comprehensive search to be completed covering both products available and criteria within a single user journey.

Alongside the launch of Affordability Hub, it creates a powerful suite of solutions that cover all three aspects of mortgage sourcing to provide a complete picture of the whole market and enables an adviser to ensure the recommended mortgage fits the customer’s criteria, is affordable to them, and is the most suitable product.

For lenders, Lender Affordability Calculator: Some lenders have their own inhouse affordability calculator, but for those that don’t we provided the ability to have a detailed, bespoke and configurable lender affordability calculator solution that can be used for both residential and buy-to-let customers.

The calculator can be embedded in intermediary-facing websites or there is a modified and simplified ‘quick calculation tool’ for consumer-facing websites. As you would expect from a Mortgage Brain solution, the Lender Affordability Calculator offers easy integration into a lender’s website, backed up by monthly analytics to help assess performance.

For lenders and advisers alike, managing expectations: When the market reopened following the first lockdown, an astounding resurgence of the purchase market arose which was the result of a flurry of applications and requests to already busy lender teams.

Seeing the challenges experienced we worked quickly to develop a Lender Service Levels report to provide advisers with a consolidated view of the current service standards of lenders. Available through the COVID-19 Support Hub on Criteria Hub, the document is updated daily to give advisers an overview of waiting times for each lender and the time taken by each lender to process an application and make an offer.

2021 and beyond…Throughout the year, Mortgage Brain has continued to launch platforms that not only support the market but change the way advisers work for the better. We will not slow down and look forward to sharing even more innovations with you in the new year!

To find out more about Mortgage Brain’s suite of powerful solutions that together offer a seamless end-to-end journey from sourcing through to conveyancing, email sales@mortgage-brain.co.uk.

Beyond compliance…

As a mortgage adviser compliance is at the very core of your business and ensuring you have a back office system that intuitively puts compliance first is an integral part of safeguarding your business. However, leading systems, such as The Key by mortgage technology expert Mortgage Brain can offer a plethora of additional benefits to your business that you may not even be aware of.

This short guide will take you through key areas to consider to maximise your sales, CRM, and case tracking platform to deliver exceptional customer service and generate business.

Be organised and get personal

Personalising your communications will increase engagement and provides an opportunity to explain any additional services your business may offer in a tailored way.

One way to achieve this is by including information that is relevant only to the recipient, for instance using a preferred ‘known by’ like Dan instead of Daniel. The Key’s letter templates include merge fields that can be inserted into your communications to give them a person-to-person feel.

Further opportunities to engage with your clients can be found through The Key’s remortgage module which ensures you never miss an opportunity to retain your customers by approaching them as they near the end of their current product rate. Once set up, the module will work to reach out to your customers at the appropriate time.

Communicate often (and effectively)

Data quickly goes out of date and if it does you risk not being able to maintain regular contact with your clients. Make sure you constantly cleanse all your data sets to avoid this and remain compliant with data protection legislation.

Using the Client Portal enables your customers to quickly and easily update their own information including email addresses and phone numbers, so you can always stay in touch which has become more important than ever in recent months where face-to-face meetings have not been possible.

Customers’ circumstances can change quickly. As they do, your clients can update their details in the Client Portal. There is no re-keying needed from you, and reduced risk of errors. Your data remains accurate, and you can spend less time making updates and more time communicating with your clients.

Segmentation and targeting

Segmenting your data into different groups helps you accurately target your messaging and deliver more relevant information that will resonate and encourage connections. An example of this could be to identify your customers who have a mortgage but have not taken out protection, enabling you to provide them with further details or capture their renewal date if they have taken a policy out elsewhere.

Segmenting your data is simple with The Key’s marketing mailshot functionality and you can use the ad-hoc reporting section to filter out applicants you wish to target, safe in the knowledge that The Key’s built-in consent manager stores customer GDPR preferences.

Want to learn more about how you can supercharge and streamline your processes?

Added benefits of using The Key for data management:

  • Engineered to manage your back office compliantly
  • Client Portal gives your clients the security and convenience of sharing documents, case tracking and completing the Fact Find digitally.
  • Fact Find feature giving clients separate logins to add documents and personal details privately and securely without applicants 1 or 2 viewing them
  • Data is securely stored and backed up online

About The Key

The Key, is a powerful CRM, back office and point of sale solution that offers an integrated compliant mortgage process, providing an adviser and their administrators with efficiencies and security. The integrated and customisable Client Portal also saves up to an hour per case by capturing information directly from the client and negating the need for re-keying details.

12 days of…

We’re celebrating the arrival of December by putting together a 12-day advent calendar filled with all things mortgage-related from the 01 December until the 16th December!

Please check back each weekday to see what’s behind each door and go to our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter social media pages to see the full image and message we have shared.

Happy Holidays from Mortgage Brain!


01: With only 30 days left of the year, we are reflecting on some of the ‘best bits’ of 2020. For us, being named the Best Technology Provider twice was certainly a highlight! What has been your biggest achievement this year? Comment on our social media pages.

02: December is also party season! Is your website as best dressed as it could be? If not, don’t worry, our Mortgage Brain B2C experts can help give your website a makeover so it’s looking its best in 2021. Read our blog filled with useful tips or contact us today!

03: The best gifts are the most personal ones…what’s the best gift you have ever received? Comment on our social media pages.

04: What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store… What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more! ― Dr. Seuss

05: If you’re preparing for your business’s demand next year, maybe you should evaluate where to start when mortgage sourcing for customers. Find out where to start and be prepared for 2021! Read here

06: Whilst we’ve all embraced online events, we would love to see you face-to-face (and shower you with freebies) once it is safe to do so. The Mortgage Brain team is working hard on our 2021 events, so, make sure you sign up to receive updates. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year! #MV2021

07: Throughout this unusual year, we have tried all sorts to keep ourselves entertained with company activities including quizzes, workout Wednesdays, scavenger hunts, and virtual Friday happy hours!

08: We all like to receive a bit of love! This year we raised £1,500 for charity through our #LoveYourCustomer competition. We have so much more to give our customers and it’s not just chocolates! #Throwbackthursday

09: It’s finally time to dust off your Christmas jumper! Whether you’ll be showing yours off on Zoom or the school run today, we’d love to see your festive threads in our comments section. #Christmasjumperday

10: Sharing is caring and this season is all about supporting those in need. That’s why this year, instead of buying Christmas cards we have donated to Mind, the mental health charity.

11: The Mortgage Brain team is here to help you all year, and the festive period is no exception. You can contact us by email, call our Customer Services, join one of our many webinars, or send a message through LiveChat. So, if you need our support, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

12: We wanted to show our customers and partners how thankful we are for your support this year, so we made a Christmas video. And to demonstrate how grateful we are there is NO singing! Merry Christmas from Mortgage Brain.