2nd October 2023

How do we tackle a problem like fragmentation?

Industry collaboration – that’s how.

by Zahid Bilgrami,
Chief Executive Officer, Mortgage Brain
Published in Financial Reporter October 2023

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, mortgage brokers and financial advisers are presented with a host of technology systems. On top of this, each lender has their own set of technologies that are used to process applications and manage the customer.

While these tools have radically streamlined processes and enhanced client interactions in recent years, the choice of which one to invest in can be a tough decision to make, particularly as each one brings with it its own key benefits. The challenge of selecting from a diverse range of product, criteria and affordability platforms, customer relationship management tools (CRM), and data storage solutions can inadvertently lead to longer training periods. As users navigate new systems, there’s heightened potential for errors, and possibly a risk to the quality of client experience.

At the heart of this challenge is the issue of fragmentation. Software and tech providers, whilst developing incredible systems to aid mortgage brokers in their advisory work, have, on the flip side, given birth to a landscape where professionals find themselves needing to re-key information, manage multiple platforms, and juggle an ever-growing list of passwords. Those using a range of systems, each with its own proprietary standards and interfaces, face a potential scenario of greater inefficiencies and an increase in the margin for error.

The remedy to this situation extends beyond just technological enhancements; it demands a profound shift in industry perspective. There’s a pressing need for the industry to evolve from one of individual innovation to a harmonised collective. This pivot towards unity is essential for a comprehensive solution, much like collective efforts in other sectors have proven more fruitful than individual ventures. One example is the tech industry’s development of the USB (Universal Serial Bus) standard. This was a result of a collective effort by several major tech companies, including Intel, IBM, and Microsoft. Their collaborative effort aimed to standardise the way devices connected to computers, which not only eased the user experience but also spurred innovation and reduced costs in the long run.

We may be some way off this but, I believe that tech providers must realign their focus. Great innovations could be achieved if we, as an industry, work together towards ‘best practice’ infrastructure. By creating industry-standard ‘plumbing’ that allows technology peers, brokers, and consumer sites a unified platform that works with a range of lenders, we can achieve our common goal of a more efficient, quicker, and accurate service for brokers and advisers. In turn, this allows for greater certainty earlier for borrowers.

Zahid Bilgrami, Chief Executive Officer, Mortgage Brain

The remedy to this situation extends beyond just technological enhancements; it demands a profound shift in industry perspective.

For customers of our applications, this means a unified application that takes care of most of their needs, including sourcing, valuations, affordability, CRM, protection, practice management, and in time ID&V and conveyancing. However, we have gone further, and are offering an interface for our ‘industry plumbing’ to any other technology or brokers. This means whichever platform a broker chooses, it will take the information provided at application, ‘unscramble’ it through our interface (or industry plumbing’) and instantly connect it to a range of lenders.  Much like enabling Mac and PC systems, which typically ‘speak different tech languages’, to communicate seamlessly and produce the same outcome for users. This is a major shift from other solutions in the past since it allows a uniform broker journey with their client regardless of which lender they select.

But the realisation of such a vision won’t be without challenges. It necessitates the alignment of industry leaders, a feat easier said than done. We need to work together to champion the collective welfare of the mortgage broker community and, by extension, their clients. A platform that offers unified data entry, single sign-on, and integrated functionalities could transform the landscape, but it requires trailblazers to converge, negotiate, and collaborate.

In the words of the great John Lennon, “Some may say that I’m a dreamer”, but I genuinely believe that industry growth isn’t just about introducing the next groundbreaking tech innovation. It’s about a collective mindset shift – an industry-wide collaboration for the greater good. By fostering a culture of cooperation and shared innovation, we can chart a path that’s efficient, error-free, and genuinely elevates the client experience. Building a platform for the whole mortgage community to share.

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