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Editor’s Note: The technical challenge

Advances in technology can provoke fear and excitement in equal measure. They can be both labour saving and threatening as a growing number of jobs become automated.

Recently, journalists shuddered to learn that companies such as Associated Press were starting to use software rather than junior reporters to generate data-heavy stories.

However, those in the business of communication, be that written or spoken, console themselves with the thought that robots can never fully replace the opinion and analysis provided by human beings.

Like journalists, mortgage brokers are in the business of communication. Their insight and advice are highly valued by consumers as they grapple with the intricacies of the homebuying process.

But brokers should not let fear of being replaced by robo-advisers scare them away from adopting new technology. It is vital that they keep an eye on what is happening across the market and ensure that their service matches that of their competitors. Rivals to their own business model may include lenders that tempt their customers with remortgage offers at the click of a button, or the new breed of fintech startups offering app-based and chatbot advice services.

This week, Mortgage Strategy reveals that innovative software from Iress and Experian’s HD Decisions could help brokers give their clients a clearer indication of whether their mortgage application will be successful.

And in his Market Watch column Coreco’s Andrew Montlake bemoans Santander’s plan to extend its ‘30-minute’ remortgage service to homemovers and first-time buyers by the end of the year. Perhaps half an hour is too short for a decision this important, especially when the borrower is not getting whole-of-market advice, he suggests.

Contactless payments and other financial innovations means that consumers are speeding up their buying decisions. But sometimes a bit of friction is no bad thing if it means borrowers take more time over a mortgage choice that could cost them many thousands of pounds a year if they get it wrong.

There is still plenty of room for technology to improve the mortgage process and make broker businesses more efficient. But customers will always value an independent and unbiased human being when it comes to making the final decision on their choice of mortgage.

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