On 31 October 2004, the Financial Services Authority clamped down on the mortgage industry, wrote the rulebook for new requirements and regulations to even the playing field, and precipitated the rise of sourcing systems.
Since that day, widely known as ‘Mortgage Day’, these systems have been continuously evolving and adapting to an ever-connected marketplace. How should brokers navigate the maze of sourcing options? Let’s have a look at some important considerations.
Your business requirements
The first step in any software or technology purchasing process is to be clear on your own business process and requirements both in current and future terms. Brokers should consider how a technology partner can add value today but also support business growth and change for the future.
Thus, one of the first questions to ask yourself as a broker is whether your technology supplier helps you spend more time building relationships with clients and developing your business. Can the service streamline your processes and allow your clients to get the most from you, as the broker? Additionally, what can your supplier do for the relationship between you and your clients?
Equally, what scale of businesses does the supplier support, from small, directly authorised business support through to packagers, mortgage clubs and intermediary networks. Most importantly for those that are part of a club or network, will you be able to get any exclusives or specific fees through the sourcing engine?
Breadth of lender coverage
In terms of lender coverage, are you offered a good breadth of choice and are new lenders adding their products to the platform? Advisers should choose a system they feel is going to provide the most comprehensive and accurate data set.
It can be difficult during the initial research phase to get an idea of this breadth, especially since each system will highlight their strengths to you, making comparison tricky.
Free trials are crucial to getting a feel for the platform and compare it to other systems before you commit.
Technology and integration
Depending on the size and needs of you business, you may wish to find a supplier that can work with and integrate to your own technology developments and platforms. For example, do you need to integrate sourcing services to your own CRM and advice platform?
What if you have your own website? Does the supplier offer connected sourcing services for that channel too, such as mortgage best rates, or client-facing, initial research services? Can client services connect to the broker services to help with managing leads and client enquiries? Does the supplier offer other functional modules such as the Client Relationship Management service, advice tools such as fact-find and suitability, or other similar software that can join up your processes through the seamless and integrated re-use of data?
More commonly these days, is the question regarding life and health product advice. You may be concerned with getting your clients into their properties through core mortgage advice, but many brokers now work with clients to keep them in their properties for the long-term by offering life and health product advice. In such cases, does the supplier have a good track record of supplying life and health sourcing services, and how closely are these services connected to the mortgage journey? Using mortgage input information to make the life and health protection process easier would be something to consider. Managing this area alongside mortgages more efficiently can be good for profit and revenue growth.
Connectivity and client experience
Many sourcing suppliers today are also creating client portals that allow brokers to offer a digital interface with their clients to help in managing document and electronic signature processes.
Ultimately, such services can add much value through electronic capture and sharing of client information necessary for the broker process, thus removing administration time and allowing the broker to focus on client advice and relationship. This also offers a choice to your clients in how they wish to work with you as a broker. Although traditional face to face is difficult to replace in terms of building trust and relationships with clients, such digital portals can make it easier for you and your clients to work together.
Linked to the digital experience is the question of mobile and connected technologies. Does your supplier offer a digital platform that supports working on multiple devices for both you and your clients? Is the supplier offering services connected to lenders to support increased efficiency between broker and lender processes? Do you believe that your supplier will continue to work on technical connections to incrementally drive through more and more efficiency between such processes and what are your lenders saying about such connected developments and roadmaps?
Furthermore, what is the depth of information held on the sourcing platform? Is it just product related information or does the supplier capture lender criteria information that allows a well-informed final decision? For example, in addition to the structured and filtered product services, there may be a lot of information held at lender and product level that can help brokers deal with final acceptance criteria in given client situations.
Affordability versus value
Finally, the cheapest is not always the best value for money. When looking at pricing, consider how stable pricing has been in the past and what you get for your money. Is the price today flexible and linked to the choice in functionality? Is future pricing likely to be relatively stable subject to similar functionality? New services are likely to come with an additional price tag.
What do system suppliers advise?
We spoke to suppliers directly to find out what they would advise brokers do before deciding on a supplier.
‘Utilise any resource available through your Mortgage Club or Network. Quite often distributors will purchase licenses in bulk from sourcing systems, allowing for a far better commercial offering.Look at the type of business you are, and most importantly, what other underlying technology systems you have in place. Majority of intermediaries will have various CRM, sourcing, portal or back office providers. It’s always worth speaking to your main system provider (usually your CRM) to various types of integration routes. Nobody wants to re-key data - make sure your sourcing system is ‘plugged in’ to your surrounding systems, remembering these no longer need to come from one supplier. Shop around and pick the best of breed for your business model and existing systems.’
Mortgage Brain, www.mortgage-brain.co.uk/
‘When focusing on sourcing, the broker should not assume all sourcing systems are the same as ‘sourcing isn’t just sourcing’! In the first instance, does an online or offline solution suit the business best? Also look at the total capability of the systems; for example, how many criteria can be used to match a client’s needs to the products available? Perhaps consider features such as are matched, un-matched and withdrawn products shown. Also ask questions of the reliability and accuracy of the product information in that sourcing system. In short, have a really good look at the functionality and what will suit the broker’s own process and expectations before deciding.’
Knowledge Bank, www.yourknowledgebank.co.uk
‘When a broker is selecting the right sourcing system for their business, the most important thing to consider is the type of business that either they currently write or the direction they want to take their business in with regard to the business they are going to be writing. Not all product sourcing or criteria search systems support every lending type so this really is the key to making the initial decision about which sourcing system they are going to engage with.’
The most important thing to keep in mind while finding a sourcing system is how it fits with not only your business today, but with how you see your business evolving. Take advantage of online support, training sessions, telephone based support, seminars and more to be as informed as you possibly can.