“I think the advisor will continue to play a key role in enabling customers to navigate the complexities of taking out a mortgage. Our main job is to continue to enable the broker to provide quick and detailed solutions to customer queries.”
Insightive.tv: If we focus specifically on your mortgage market, can you start with an overview of your customer contracting process?
Barry: We have an intermediate channel for mortgages where a mortgage application is handled by a broker. This interaction is either face-to-face over the telephone, and sometimes partially via email. In any case, it is intermediated — the broker is our direct customer, not the end consumer. Brokers register with us and join our mortgage panel, giving them access to our online mortgage processing facility.
This is a system we built specifically to ensure the speed of the transaction. Brokers digitally input information onto our system. Once we collect the initial information, we undertake a credit assessment. Within twenty-four hours we will inform the broker if we think the customer fits our criteria and request the broker to submit a formal loan application. The broker essentially acts as the first assessment screen, and, up until this point, we rely on the broker to supply accurate information. But, before the actual loan is processed, we require evidence for what the broker initially said. That evidence can all be scanned — removing any postage from the system.
The final step in the process is the signing of documents. Currently, the broker downloads the application and gets a wet-signature from the customer. That document is then scanned and uploaded onto our system. We are looking to develop this further with the application of e-signature technology. To this point we have built the technology used for this system in-house, so we are looking at both internally developing this capability and contracting with outside sources. We have found that our ability to deliver fast solutions using a mainly digital platform has been very popular among our brokers — it is something that we want to expand and continually improve.
Insightive.tv: What were the key outcomes you were looking to achieve when developing this system?
Barry: We wanted to make a system that was fast, reliable and efficient. Providing customers satisfactory and quick results is the main priority of brokers, so that is what we deliver. Having all of our broker interactions online makes this possible. We also thought it was important to design a system that was easy on the eyes and easy for the broker to use, register with and understand. This is part of the reason we build this interface in-house — to make sure it exactly fit our specifications.
Creating this improved system has also helped business by expanding the number of clients within our network. I would be lying if expanding our business was not a priority. But, creating more useful products is the best means of growth.
Insightive.tv: How do you see the customer journey changing in both the long and short term?
Barry: The world is certainly becoming more digital. Among other things, the advent of phone apps has, and is continuing to change the way businesses interact with customers. There are plenty of banks that are adopting this model. But I think that the mortgage industry will retain an element of advice, either indefinitely or for a lot longer than other financial services. 80% of our businesses is currently advised, and that is not an accident — mortgages are complicated.
Modern technology is great, but, digital transformation in business is driven by customer demand. Mortgages are rarely straightforward due to credit problems, contractual issues with employers, or any myriad number of complications. They are also large liabilities that require long-term commitment. End-to-end digitisation with the aim of eliminating the need for advice, for a majority of mortgages, is something that is hard to imagine.
With that said, I think there are smaller changes that will happen. Introducing e-signatures is one. I also think there will be more information available to customers online. It is possible that customers themselves could get quotes or estimates using systems similar to those used by brokers. But I think the advisor will continue to play a key role in enabling customers to navigate the complexities of taking out a mortgage. Our main job is to continue to enable the broker to provide quick and detailed solutions to customer queries.
Barry Fitzsimmons is Head of Sales at Furness Building Society. He has been in this role for almost two years, and with the company for over ten. An experienced sales manager, with more than two decades of experience in the financial service industry, Barry is passionate about staff development and strategic planning. We spoke with Barry to understand into how Furness Building Society is implementing digital technology within the mortgage and insurance industry and gain insight into how Barry views the future of digital contracting.
Furness Building Society is the 17th largest UK Building Society with twenty-five locations focused around the North-West. Founded in 1865, the company now primarily offers mortgages and insurance products, along with other financial services. As a Building Society, Furness prioritises community support, making charitable donations for every Pound in their customer savings accounts. Last year they donated over £160,000 to the local hospice in Ulverston, Cumbria.
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