Personal touch will “never leave the industry”: UK Finance panel

Principality chief executive Steve Hughes, speaking at a panel at the UK Finance annual mortgage conference, stated that despite the increasing role of technology, face-to-face decision making will never leave the industry.

Ostensibly gathered to air their thoughts on the Mortgage Market Study, UK Finance director Jackie Bennett, Imla executive director Kate Davies, Lloyds director of strategic partnerships Esther Dijkstra, and Market Harborough BS chief executive Mark Robinson were soon discussing the role of technology in the mortgage market.

Hughes highlighted the fact that he has worked in other sectors, and that there was one common theme – underestimating how industries change. “The automobile industry underestimated automation,” he said, adding that the retail market didn’t see the likes of Amazon coming, and that price comparison websites disrupted the insurance market to a huge degree.

“Both intermediaries and lenders will have to adapt and invest,” he said, but added that there will always be a need for “strong, sound, personal decisions made face-to-face.

“This will never leave the industry,” he added.

The panel also talked about where guidance fits in with the FCA’s view of the mortgage market – and if there is a place for it between advice and execution-only.

Bennett talked about how customers now expect a “multi-channel” experience – using a combination of the phone, personal meetings, web chats and apps in their mortgage journey, which can cause a host of problems.

“Everybody is nervous about tripping into advice,” she said, adding that lenders need to know how far they can go.

Davies opined that it’s a difficult place for the FCA to be in, because the received wisdom is that customers don’t know the difference between advice and execution-only. However, she said, with millions of mortgage customers, this is in fact a “huge mixed ability class,” and some people are confidence.

Customers want to choose which path they go down, but “the rules aren’t quite there,” Bennett concluded.

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