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Intermediaries must embrace technology, says IMLA

Research from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association shows that although intermediaries are embracing technology there is still more to be done.

Its latest survey of technology use by intermediaries gives a number of clear pointers as to trends within the sector.

While many applications are already widely used, IMLA says there is scope to harness technology to help in a number of areas such as case tracking, provision of a full online application system, and the use of simplified registration techniques such as provided by Unipass.

As expected, the survey found computers are an essential part of the intermediarys office equipment, with 85% using an office PC and 54% a laptop computer, but take-up of other technology solutions among intermediaries is proving less rapid.

For example, just 8% of them use a pocket computer or other handheld device.

Peter Williams, executive director of IMLA, says: Intermediaries are investing in the right equipment for the type of work they do.

For example, appointed representatives are more likely to be on the go and the survey shows that more ARs use portables than directly authorised firms.

However, when asked about their use of customer relationship management systems, 55% of respondents indicated that they do not use such a system even though the survey reveals they see case tracking as of key importance.

Of those who do use a system, Office Web is the most popular, mentioned by 11%, followed by 1st Software at 7% and Dashboard at 5%.

With the steady growth in the use of technology within the financial services sector, digital certification techniques are increasingly being used by advisers as a skeleton key to access mortgage providers websites.

55% of advisers were familiar with the single Unipass digital certificate from ORIGO giving them access to a range of sites, although a larger proportion of directly authorised respondents are conversant with Unipass than of appointed representatives.

Williams adds: While this appears to show a reasonable degree of awareness on the part of intermediaries, not all of them are actively using Unipass.

Our research also highlights the fact that more than a fifth of intermediaries do not even know what Unipass is.

Technology is the way of the future for the mortgage market and its vital that intermediaries keep ahead of the game in terms of using technology solutions.

At IMLA, were committed to working with the intermediary and lender sector to encourage take-up of solutions such as this that can make everyones life easier.

In 2007, IMLA will be working with AMI to secure greater take up of Unipass by both lenders and intermediaries.

The survey shows that intermediaries use of technology continues to grow.

55% of them reported that they submit more than half of their mortgage applications online.

There has been significant growth in the proportion of online applications since last summer, up from 46% in June 2006 to 53% , an increase that IMLA says is largely due to strong growth in online applications from respondents from directly authorised firms.

Only 5.5% of intermediaries said that they dont use online decisioning systems at all.

55% of them use five or more different lenders systems, and 27% use three or four of them.

Many intermediaries provide their clients the option of arranging their mortgages outside normal working hours, with a small but significant percentage of business being conducted either before 9 am (3.6%), between 5 and 7 pm (6.5%), or after 7 pm (5.8%).

Williams says: A key differentiator for many intermediaries is their willingness to be flexible in order to meet their clients needs and that includes making themselves available before or after the normal working day.

Thus we see that many of them use online decisioning systems extensively before 9 am or after 5 pm.

Finally, intermediaries were asked what future enhancements from lenders would assist the future growth of their business.

Top of the list came improved case tracking, mentioned by 28.2% of respondents.

A full online application system was favoured by 24% of respondents.

Easier sign-on using systems such as Unipass attracted 14% of responses, and point of sale offers 9%.

Williams says: Technology plays an increasingly important role in the mortgage industry and intermediaries and lenders are increasingly embracing technology to streamline the process, control costs and improve service.

At IMLA we are keen to support initiatives to raise the use of technology in the sector, which will benefit intermediaries and their customers, as well as lenders.

One of our key plans for 2007 is to work with AMI and with intermediaries in general to achieve these goals.

We want to drive forward the efficiency agenda in the industry.

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