How online lenders are innovating to transform the mortgage process, employing technology in their efforts to make it simpler, cheaper and faster
In your opinion, how much traction have peer-to-peer lenders had with brokers?
When our founders, Christian Faes and Ian Thomas, launched LendInvest back in 2013, they did so to bring better speed, efficiency and transparency to the mortgage market. By employing the same principles of peer-to-peer marketplace lending that had won a significant share of the unsecured consumer and small business loan markets, they have seen this transformation really begin to take hold.
I cannot gloss over the fact that online lending has had its detractors in the mortgage market. But with 75 per cent of monthly applications coming from first-time applicants, we are confident that traction is growing solidly.
We are not building rockets here. We are online lenders, pure and simple, using technology to make business life easier. Just as smartphones transformed the way we all buy food and clothes, book our travel or find practically anything in the world, LendInvest and other online lenders are innovating to transform the mortgage process, making it simpler, cheaper and faster. More and more people are seeing that this makes sense.
What challenges does the sector face in the coming 12 months?
As we begin to win more market share from ‘traditional’ mortgage lenders, the challenges we face are often shared with our competitors, namely market competition, regulatory and tax changes, new entrants and interest rate rises (or not).
Brokers who work with us to get deals done love how we operate, and word-of-mouth has been one of our most powerful customer acquisition channels ever since launching.
However, we can never rely on others to do the job for us and we need to make sure that the principles and practices of online lending reach a greater audience and procure a greater following from among the mortgage broking community.
What are your plans for this period?
We have lots of them. 2015 was a transformative year for LendInvest, during which we think we really proved to brokers the benefits of what we do and the market demand. The next 12 months are going to be busy, full of both consolidation and expansion. We have always said that short-term mortgage lending is a great place to lend and we will work hard to consolidate and build on our 10 per cent share of the UK bridging market.
But we are not going to stop there. Our ambition is to become a mainstream lender, capable of offering a broad range of mortgage products to the market. Over time, some of our loan products may be longer in duration.
All that said, we will not compromise on quality of borrowers or risk controls. That is a promise. We are also rolling out our online broker portal to more partners.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Don’t worry about what you can’t control” – in every aspect of life and business. This simple guidance saves one from so much self-inflicted stress and bother.
Who is your all-time hero and why?
Winston Churchill. It is awe-inspiring that someone can live a life full of drama and incident, make life and death decisions, bear huge responsibilities and still have an incredible sense of fun. I am always most impressed by people who think independently and critically, who stand up for their principles and who still have a great sense of humour.
As a child, what was your dream job?
My father was a keen cricketer and I would play four or five games of cricket a week during the summer months. Ian Botham was my sporting hero. I wanted to be a professional cricketer, Essex and England, an all-rounder, but it became pretty obvious by my teenage years that this was not going to happen and it would be club cricket for me at best.
Do you have any secret talents?
I have a remarkable memory for names and faces. I can look at a photo of my class from 30 years ago and name everyone. This kind of recall is useful for a job in business, even if there are some names I would rather forget.