Sonia Sedler, Managing Director (EMEA), Sutherland Global Services
Last week, a panel at the UK Finance Annual Mortgage Conference posed the question: “How will technology change the market in the next 12 months?”
A lively debate followed concerning which parts of the mortgage process could be significantly improved, the most interesting recent developments, how customers will benefit and barriers to innovation in the sector. Through the discussions, one particular theme emerged: everyone agreed on the urgent need for collaboration.
As the sector rapidly changes, along with customers’ growing expectations, organisations need to think about working together in order to stay ahead – established banks are hindered by legacy systems and the potential disruption and cost of investing in infrastructure. The challengers in the market are often agile, but do not have access to the funding they require. Challengers may also worry about the possibility of being eclipsed by the scale and brand reputation of more recognised institutions.
Bringing the two together eliminates those worries. Incumbent banks would benefit from the agility and rapid innovation of fintechs, who in turn need the power – predominantly in the form of funding possessed by the established players.
Some other stakeholders in the process – such as conveyancing – are currently completely out of the lenders’ control. With digitalisation it makes sense to bring those third parties into a collaborative ecosystem too.
This blending approach doesn’t only apply to collaboration between parties; the innovations themselves also need to be hybrid. We are starting to see a trend towards what we have called “blurred transactions”: as the public’s relationships with money changes, each transaction becomes less and less tangible. It’s imperative for organisations in all sectors to better understand and service their customers in order not to lose opportunities for touchpoints and engagement.
The balancing act of satisfying regulations, advising, and actually giving the customer what they want requires a combination of technology and human touchpoints to stop mismatched, frustrating customer journeys. Automation, if implemented without strategy or lacking input from real people, will leave you with nothing but bad process.
Properly done digitalisation can benefit all the stakeholders in the mortgage market with real integration, optionality and transparency. It can support a 360 view of the customer’s finances, lifestyle and preferences, help to prompt the next best step, and also reduce and streamline lead times from application to closure.
There are a lot of exciting technologies and initiatives emerging. Now is the time for alliances to be formed, and for partners to join in innovation. The opportunity is there for integrators to pull all of this together and to ensure that the technology advances are regulated, they support the customer experience and they improve costs and processes for lenders.
Today’s generation of customers is the most empowered in history: current regulation gives them the choice of an open market and more control than ever before over their own data. With choice comes competition. In 2019, we will see frontrunners emerge in the race to become the most relevant and useful to customers, and they will achieve that with hybrid approaches and strong collaboration.
Sonia Sedler is Managing Director (EMEA) of Sutherland, a process transformation company that completes 43 million transactions a month for clients in 20 countries; and a Board Director of Sutherland Mortgages UK.