Bill Safran is joint managing director of Trigold
As a firm supporter of AMI, Trigold completely backs its aim to have accurate data available for intermediaries. Intermediaries are our primary customers and we remain focussed on supporting the 15,000 brokers that rely on our systems.
Data accuracy has always been a vital component of the service we offer and we pride ourselves in this regard, but forthcoming regulation has put increased pressure on brokers – and the tools that they are using.
AMI raised the issue of how the industry can obtain verified data, and we have been in discussion with it looking for a solution. AMI is looking to foster a solution whereby lenders supply their information in a standard electronic format to all participants in the market. We would regard this as nirvana as it would provide iron-clad verification of data and give confidence. We are totally supportive of this goal.
But in order to bring about this solution there are a number of technical issues that must be resolved, the most important of which being data standards.
Producing an accurate Key Facts Illustration comes down to two things: accurate data and accurate calculations. However, the production of an accurate KFI is not enough – verification is the watchword for intermediaries. The solution is to implement a verification process with the lenders to ensure KFIs produced on sourcing systems are accurate. Each lender will preview their data and KFIs prior to the products being activated on the system.
The benefit of this as an interim solution is that it is not just raw product data being checked by the product provider but the final KFI. Lenders can produce a KFI from their own system and compare it with one produced from Trigold and then verify that the two amounts are correct within FSA tolerances.
The good news is that the lenders want to work with the sourcing systems to ensure quality of data. They are partially doing this to help the industry and partially for commercial reasons. An inaccurate KFI will not only upset the adviser and the client but will also slow down – and increase the cost of processing – the case.
Lenders are not shirking their responsibility but listing which products have or have not been verified in our sourcing results will place tremendous competitive pressure on them. Given two similar products, the one with a verification flag will be at a commercial advantage over the one that has not been verified.
It is naive to think that accuracy of KFIs will deliver competitive advantage in the sourcing market. Like AMI we think accuracy is not a 'like to have' but a 'must have' and will work with the market to achieve it.
Mark Lofthouse is chief executive of Mortgage Brain
Impending regulation means that there is a pressing requirement for lenders to provide additional mortgage product information to support the production of KFIs by mortgage sourcing companies.
But the lenders can also elect to support the introducer community by delivering additional certainty and confidence.
Since its inception in 1986 Mortgage Brain has prided itself on quality of data and its timely distribution to introducers. But how can we enhance our offer and ensure the certainty and confidence our users will demand in the regulated future?
Doing things as they've always been done is not the way we work at Mortgage Brain – we are always striving to deliver better services. For example, not only is our product information checked multiple times before it is released (up to twice every day), but in January 2003 we launched a product verification system that enables lenders to proactively check their product data.
Now lenders who account for over 75% of mortgages sold in the UK verify their product information, as can be clearly seen by introducers through our 'traffic light' system.
So where do we go from here? There are more innovations planned to take data quality to the next level including the electronic receipt of information from lenders and, importantly, proactive checking of KFI output which compares the KFI delivered from Mortgage Brain with that from the lender.
Again, introducers will be able to clearly identify where lenders have gone the extra mile in order to deliver the most accurate service possible.
What more can be done? The majority of lenders in the UK attended our recent compliance roadshows. A common theme was data quality and in particular how this can be delivered to the market as a whole.
Lenders also expressed a desire not to have to verify product data on multiple systems and, as many lenders already check Mortgage Brain's information, they asked if there is a way this information could be made available to the market. We have taken this request on board and are progressing the idea with both the lenders and the recipients of product data.
Mortgage product data quality is a frequent topic of conversation these days, and the benefits of proactive verification are well recognised.
From everybody's perspective, taking the extra time to ensure all is well early in the mortgage selling process must mean that products are correctly represented and thus is a better service delivered to the person that matters most to us all – the customer.