AMI Chief Executive Robert Sinclair gives his February update, discussing the latest issues in the industry and how we can tackle them…
I have been listening intently to where we, as an industry, are on the technology journey with a wide range of firms investing in the future of how intermediaries interact with consumers and lenders. Firstly, we have the traditional broking firms who are developing their own solutions or bolting in third party systems to enhance the customer journey and automate as many processes and feedback loops as possible. Some traditional brokers already have a fully automated and integrated customer fact find, sourcing and lender application process. For others this can include integrating access to survey and conveyancing information. Many traditional firms are working on simplifying the customer journey.
Then we have the challenger brokers. Those who are relatively new to market who have built their models on automating as much of the journey as possible and are looking to try to digitise the advice process via algorithms. This might already be a dated approach to resolving the complexities of the process, which is frustrated by lenders varied approaches to criteria and making applications.
There is also a category of the existing fintechs who serve our market who are looking to develop and enhance their offering to deliver a better end-to-end experience. They are looking over their shoulder at experienced brokers firms who have branched into sourcing, criteria, financial, credit reference, AVM and other related data to try to help the broker and consumer get closer to the best deal earlier in the discussion. The more that can be data captured early the better.
Finally there are the tech disruptors who are working to pick aspects of the consumer and broker journey and add value by simplifying and speeding the process. In looking at all of this there is an explosion of views, options, alternatives and trials, all competing for traction and attraction. For some “Valhalla” might be if lenders give access to their decisioning via API’s which could be aggregated to deliver much more concrete Decisions in Principle. It is this option that might make redundant some of the advice algorithms already developed.
What is clear to AMI as the trade body with the importance of advice at its heart is that this is a rapidly evolving scenario. All participants are making strides forwards, all focused on helping the customer and broker journey. Our lender partners are doing their best to listen to the cacophony of demands from a wide range of “developers and disruptors” and trying to establish which will work best for their business model and risk appetite.
Some in the wider market would like our regulator to intervene to give clarity and certainty. Since AMI first stared looking in earnest at how tech might impact our market some three years ago, we have been singular in our view that we should let the market develop at its own pace, let it calculate the best solutions and that any indication of intervention would stop progress in its tracks until the market saw what was being proposed as the final solution. Having sat through a series of awards judging over the last few days I was astonished at how far some firms have come and how deep their future plans are.