"Brexit is clearly acting as a drag on transaction volumes, but mortgage advisers operate in the real world and property will always be in demand as an asset class."
We spoke to Conor Murphy, CEO of Smartr365, about why mortgage technology is reaching a tipping point in 2019 and what a 'MortgageKanban' involves.
FR: What is Smartr365?
Founded in 2017, Smartr365 is an end-to-end mortgage software platform. Designed for mortgage advisers, by advisers, Smartr365 enables intermediaries to retain and expand their business. But we are much more than a CRM – our system provides a digital fact-find, online identification and verification processes, pre-population of client data, integrated mortgage and protection sourcing, as well as property valuations. Smartr365’s vision is to transform the mortgage process, creating a frictionless experience for customers, intermediaries, lenders and other market participants.
FR: How have things changed at Smartr365 since Legal & General came on board?
Our strategy and vision remain consistent - what’s changed is the scale and speed at which Smartr365 can operate. The investment from Legal & General’s fintech division, which has great experience in scaling fast-growth fintech businesses means we are really benefitting from their expertise in this area. Legal & General is a very supportive investor, giving us access to a range of specialist resources from within the Legal & General group.
FR: A number of other businesses are now talking about APIs and doing similar things. Does that worry you?
Not at all. We welcome competition to drive innovation and take the mortgage market forward into the 21st century. From the outset, we knew that there would be other players looking to operate in this space – but we believe we have significant advantages over other firms in the market.
Smartr365 offers a complete end-to-end mortgage application process for mortgage advisers. We have proven processes for verifying ID, address and income, in addition to APIs for application submission. Smartr365 also possesses one of the most efficient customer relationship management systems and adviser fact find solutions, to provide clients with the best experience possible in the industry today. We think that’s a very compelling proposition for intermediaries, and quite distinct from what else is out there.
We are continuing to invest in the Smartr365 offering. We have a team of 25 developers based in our head office in Hammersmith, all working on four-week launch cycles. This means we are releasing new functionality - like our unique MortgageKanban workflow – each and every month for our advisers.
FR: So, what is the MortgageKanban?
Kanban is a scheduling and workflow management tool, originally used in lean manufacturing. Since then, however, it has been adopted by other industries to drive efficiency and streamline processes.
We have spent a lot of time thinking and looking at how mortgage advisers operate, and our MortgageKanban offers a very efficient way for intermediaries to manage a mortgage application. Kanban is Japanese for ‘visual signal’ or ‘card’. Our MortgageKanban breaks the mortgage process down into a series of steps, which are represented visually as cards. Using these cards, a broker moves cases from left to right across the board once each step is completed. It’s a very visual and intuitive way of working, and advisers tell us they love the simplicity and image-based nature of the system. It clearly shows what work needs to be done, when and by whom and automates certain parts of the process - for example needing to chase for valuation and lender updates, or notifying clients and parties. It’s all about making a broker’s life easier.
FR: What do you think 2019 will bring for the mortgage industry?
The mortgage industry is heading into 2019 in a strong position. Lenders are well-capitalised and the industry is innovating and expanding the product offerings available for buyers and re-mortgage customers alike.
Brexit is clearly acting as a drag on transaction volumes, but mortgage advisers operate in the real world and property will always be in demand as an asset class. While the market has experienced its fair share of ups and downs, the fundamentals are solid and there is a strong demand among customers for the right mortgage advice.
Mortgage technology is reaching a tipping point in 2019, where the talk finally translates in to actions and results, and we believe that offers a huge opportunity for advisers. The administrative elements of the mortgage process can become more and more automated to allow advisers to spend more time speaking to customers, adding value and building their businesses – this is the ‘frictionless mortgage journey’ in action.
Advisers remain at the heart of the mortgage process - high-quality advice, combined with the right technology and commitment from the lending side, suggests that the industry can have a good year, especially looking into spring and summer where we’ll hopefully have more clarity on what Brexit means.