"The only thing holding the mortgage industry back from complete tech adoption is the mortgage industry itself."
We spoke to Billy Grimley, chief commercial officer at Smartr365, about how lockdown has accelerated the uptake and development of technology in the mortgage industry and what the market can expect to see in the remainder of 2020.
FR: So, tell us a bit more about Smartr365 and how it can help advisers.
Smartr365 is the industry’s first ‘true-tech’ end-to-end mortgage software platform. What sets us apart is that we are designed for mortgage brokers, by brokers – we understand the industry and we put customer success at the forefront of everything we do. What’s more, our You Ask, We Build commitment means our users can submit feedback in-platform, which is then actioned by our tech team in near-real time. This ensures we are always able to deliver exactly what our users need.
Using tech, we’re aiming to make the mortgage journey as simple as possible for brokers. Our system provides a digital fact-find, online identification and verification processes, pre-population of client data, integrated mortgage, protection sourcing and property valuations, as well as giving users with the opportunity to have their say and vote for the integration and development of even more features.
Smartr365’s vision is to transform the mortgage process, creating a frictionless experience for customers, intermediaries, lenders and all other market participants.
FR: What will your role be within Smartr365?
My role is to lead an interconnected commercial strategy for Smartr365, making sure the team is cohesive. Primarily, I develop excellent customer success processes to ensure our users get maximum value from the platform, both during and after their initial purchase.
I’ve not always been in the mortgage industry. Previously, I’ve worked with household names likes TrustPilot and WeWork. What I’ve seen in my career, and what I share with the team at Smartr, is a belief that excellent customer success models don’t need to be limited to the more ‘traditionally tech-first’ industries, and I’m using my background to assist Smartr365 in creating a bespoke model, the first of its kind in the industry.
FR: You mention that Smartr365 is a tech-first platform – what do you see as being the biggest challenge for tech in the industry at the moment?
The only thing holding the mortgage industry back from complete tech adoption is the mortgage industry itself. The technology is available to completely change the mortgage application process for borrowers, brokers, lenders and conveyancers, but we’re held back by a reluctance for change.
However, thankfully that is beginning to change. In all areas, the lockdown accelerated the uptake and development of technology in the industry. Brokers and their clients were required to conduct meetings whilst miles apart and traditionally physical, or in-person, processes either haven’t taken place or have moved digital.
But there’s still more to do. The more that we can demonstrate the positivity of these changes to stakeholders in the mortgage process, the more that the industry as a whole will be able reap the rewards.
FR: How will customer success fit into this?
Customer success fits into everything we do and should be a key pillar for the industry as a whole. In layman’s terms, customer success is making sure customers achieve the outcomes they want while using the product. Part of how we do this is by requesting user feedback all of the time and using this to continuously look for ways we can improve.
By combining market leading technology with real user feedback, we can create the exact product our users want. It’s quite exciting really, we’re making a ‘best in class’ CS platform, the likes of which the mortgage industry has never seen before!
FR: What do you think the rest of 2020 will bring for the mortgage industry?
It’s been a strange seven months for the mortgage industry so far. It’s hard to predict the future in our current environment, but I think in terms of tech we are likely to see an increased uptake as the year continues.
This is because the lockdown has provided a kind-of springboard for the mortgage industry to adopt technology. As more brokers have experienced the benefits of cloud-based storage, remote conferencing tools and ID&V technology, to name a few, I think would be naïve to assume we will ever return to the analogue processes we used before.
I also think that brokers are likely to see an uptick in clients as borrowers’ need for advice increases. The available mortgage products are constantly changing, and despite the recession, asking prices are rising. It can feel confusing, and the need for solid and knowledgeable advice is essential. For most of us, a mortgage is the largest financial commitment we have, and while it is undoubtedly exciting, it can come with serious risks if the wrong decision is made.
Provided that brokers have the right tech and the right expertise; I think we are going to come out of this even stronger than before.