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One to One: Ishaan Malhi, Founder, Trussle

malhi-ishaan-2017

Finding the right balance between automation and human intervention, using social media to build a brand – and a hidden talent for pesto making

Online mortgage broker Trussle is often mentioned in the debate around robo advice. Are you comfortable with the term and would you use it to describe your business model?

We don’t refer to ourselves as a robo adviser. I don’t think anyone wants to get a mortgage from a robot and the term does more harm than good. Technology enables our whole process, but there is a team of people behind that. The term doesn’t accurately reflect the human component of our service.

Customers like being able to do what they need to on their mobile and the transparency of knowing where they are in the process, but they also like the option to speak to a broker or case manager for updates.

For us it has been about finding the right balance between automation and human intervention. We are first and foremost a technology company but we recognise that this is one of the biggest transactions that most people will ever make. Technology enables us to scale up aggressively, but we must still provide customers with the reassurance that there is human time, thought and judgement behind the advice they receive.

How do you work with online partners to grow your business?

We have locked down a few really significant partnerships, Zoopla being the big one. We will also soon go live with uSwitch.com, the comparison site, and have signed a partnership with Noddle, which provides free credit reports for life.

On every Zoopla property listing, next to the price you will see a call to action that says: ‘Could I afford this property?’ We then help you fill in a short form that takes around three to five minutes and generates a mortgage in principle, to show how much you could afford. People take that certificate to estate agents to prove they are good for the money. A lot of them will come back to us when they have had their offer on a property accepted, to arrange their mortgage. We are getting huge amounts of traffic this way.

With Noddle, they have over two million users who get their credit report for free each month. We will work with them using technology to alert customers when there is a better mortgage rate available that they could switch to and save money. When they log in to their dashboard they will have an option that says: ‘Save an average of £4,800 per year by checking that you are on the right mortgage.’ Over time we will build that integration even closer so that we can proactively ping someone a notification when their mortgage is up for renewal.

With comparison sites, they present thousands of options but do not give you context of whether you are eligible for any of those mortgages, which is where we come in.

Is social media a big part of your marketing strategy?

Yes. As well as generating a lot of business by word of mouth, we are all over Facebook, Twitter and Google and will be doing more advertising this year. We will also produce a lot of online content. The housebuying process is so complicated that, if we can provide helpful articles and top tips, that will also help us to build the brand.

What are your key ambitions for 2017?

Unlocking the remortgage market.

Where did you work before setting up Trussle?

I spent nine months working with and for, and investing in, early-stage technology companies. Prior to that I worked in the mortgages team at an investment bank.

If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?

Become a professional boxer or restaurateur.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?

My granddad. He started our family business after arriving from India and, late into his 80s, he still manages to work and exercise every day.

Do you have any secret talents?

I make very good pesto, I’ve even made it for the world’s no.1 pesto-making champion.

What is the best advice you have received?

Treat people the way you’d like to be treated.

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