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Industry must cooperate to integrate

Technology has revolutionised the application process for mortgages. It’s now not a matter of if the goal of instant mortgage offers will be achieved but when. But all companies involved in the mortgage industry need to apply this same level of technological innovation and imagination to every area of the process for the market to advance.

Perhaps most importantly we will have to work harder at making sure the links between each stage are more efficient if we are to reap the benefits of technology. At the moment, the systems of companies at various stages in the process – brokers, lenders, packagers, servicing providers, conveyancing, sourcing software firms, valuers and credit agencies – do not work well together.

In comparison with the US market, our process is disjointed. Important information often does not flow seamlessly from one stage to the next. Instead too much time is wasted transferring data from one system to another and sometimes even re-entering it. So as well as working on improving technology in each area, we must make systems more compatible.

For example, sourcing systems are often unable to accurately take into consideration the differing affordability calculations lenders use. Brokers are left visiting various websites, sometimes having to plug in the same information time and again, to get an idea of the mortgages available. With proper integration of systems they should only have to type in a borrower’s information once and then rapidly receive accurate information on the deals on offer.

Similar inefficiencies exist in many places along the mortgage chain, from lenders’ financing to conveyancing, fraud checks and servicing. The worst cases occur when data has to be transferred or handled by two companies – for example, when firms outsource parts of the process.

The lack of industry standards holds back the ability of specialist technology providers to find solutions. Companies hold different pieces of information in different formats using different definitions of product types, for instance. This makes integration tough and is something the industry must work on.

Hardly a week goes by without us hearing of an important technological breakthrough or improved service as more automation is used in the mortgage process. We should welcome these innovations as they could provide more sophisticated, accurate, rapid and cost-efficient services.

But to make best use of these advances, not only do we have to ensure they reach every area of the mortgage process but also that systems are able to integrate. This will take cooperation but it is the only way we can hope to achieve a seamless mortgage process.

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