One of last years major buzz phrases was the immortal system integration and this year looks set to be no different. With the rapid development of new technology in the marketplace, the challenge for those at the forefront of the industry is to fully integrate their systems with state of the art advances.
The benefits of system integration are numerous to all parties involved in the process. The procedure is more efficient and streamlined with no duplication of work or reformatting of data.
For lenders, application information can be received in a structured, manageable way, ensuring the process has far smaller turnaround times than traditional paperwork methods. Transparent, auditable information occurs at every stage of the application process and can be accessed by everyone involved, including online case tracking monitors. Moreover, the best distributors also look at the bigger picture to work with larger lenders to create a reliable system over the full range of their proposition. Conveyancing, insurance and valuation services are all integrated to enable access to a seamless system that can offer a fast, efficient service to everyone involved in the process.
The United Packagers Association aims to help satellite and smaller packagers to gain the same benefits as their larger counterparts. By piggy-backing these firms, the benefits of system integration can be passed on as and when new developments take place in the market and within the association. This can prove vital in ensuring a smaller firm which would not otherwise have close links with providers has the opportunity to grow and stay in touch with the latest developments.
Just as the generic application form was a big step in system integration, new systems have the power to combine many aspects to create more streamlined processes from a single source.
Another major development in system integration is the relationship between distributors, lenders and key sourcing software providers. Mortgage Brains MTE and Trigolds ETC facilitate the use of distributors application forms. Generic applications can be sent electronically, ensuring client data is sourced and pre-populated into an application form, so re-keying data isnt necessary. In integrating with these trading platforms, firms can receive the application in seconds into a back office system. This means that both client and adviser benefit from efficient transfer of information. Paperwork has been eliminated altogether from this system and the application is ready to go to the underwriter quicker than ever before.
Everyone is in agreement that system integration is an important step in the industry. But there are still a number of lenders and distributors whose propositions are best described as archaic and who are not embracing major technological developments. Many simply do not have the expertise or willingness to invest in a properly integrated IT system. Lenders should realise they have deeper pockets than distributors and take the lead in working with them to create better services.
Many lenders that we work with, such as GMAC, are seen as proactive in offering a two-way system to distributors, and it is fundamental to other lenders that IT and web development should form an integral part of their expenditure over the coming years. If provisions are not made for system integration with those who distribute their products and services then they will get left behind.This all sounds great. But what if an adviser is not up to speed with the latest technological advances in the market? Lenders and distributors need to embark on a campaign of simple IT training to phase out older methods of processing and make full system integration a reality in the workplace. Investment in training also ensures that IT and web-based service offerings are being used in the most effective and streamlined way.
System integration is becoming such a vital tool in cutting down time and bureaucracy in the market. With distributors at the forefront in offering advisers choice and quality of service, this leads to the question why would a broker go direct to a lender? By incorporating, training and promoting the latest technology and using economies of scale, lenders can work with distributors and stamp their mark on systems being created, and benefit broker and consumer.
Payam Azadi, Head of Marketing, The Mortgage Times Group