"There seems to be a perception that mortgage advisers aren’t implementing fintech and it’s bypassing them, but there’s definitely a gap in the market."
We spoke to Maxim Cohen, CEO of The UK Adviser, about the benefits of mortgage franchising and whether fintech in the mortgage market has reached its peak.
FR: Tell us a bit about The UK Adviser’s proposition and services.
We launched The UK Adviser in 2017 to allow ambitious individuals to set up and run their own mortgage franchise business. It offers a unique ‘business in a box’ concept to allow advisers to build their business with a proven model whilst also getting an unrivalled level of support from our in-house team. It’s the first and only franchise business of its kind to be accredited by the British Franchise Association.
The UK Adviser is also a fin-tech proposition – we offer the unique AdviserTech platform, which is an innovative, full-service tech solution that helps to streamline the process for mortgage advisers.
We started it as a simple alternative for advisers who are looking to start their own business, but we also wanted it to correct the poor levels of personal service that we have seen offered to consumers by the industry. We believe in strong relationships between clients and advisers, so we focus on a more personal approach.
The business also offers bespoke training tailored to each level, so no matter if our franchisees are experienced advisers or fresh out of university, they will be offered continued professional development to ensure that they will always be providing high-quality, up-to-date advice to customers.
FR: What are the benefits of mortgage franchising?
There are so many benefits to mortgage franchising. By joining a mortgage franchise, franchisees are joining a proven model. They have the credibility and support of a recognised brand, whilst also having the freedom to carve their own niche in the sector and focus on growing their business. The team here at The UK Adviser have a wealth of experience in the financial sector, so new franchisees will benefit from the vast amount of knowledge at their disposal when working alongside us.
As The UK Adviser is FCA-regulated, it means that anyone who joins will be too – they don’t need to worry about compliance or becoming directly authorised either, as we’ve got that covered. We also take care of all the admin and stress associated with setting up and running a business, which can be a stumbling block for those who are just starting out.
We equip all of our franchisees with our state-of-the-art software solution, AdviserTech, and provide them with Certified UK Adviser Accreditation and Training to ensure our advisers are above industry standard.
FR: Has fintech in the mortgage market reached its peak? If not, what digital solutions would you like to see introduced over the next couple of years?
Definitely not – there seems to be a perception that mortgage advisers aren’t implementing fintech and it’s bypassing them, but there’s definitely a gap in the market. Fintech should be used to enhance the mortgage advisory process, rather than to replace advisers altogether.
Fintech is a great tool for the financial industry, but it should be used in tandem with face-to-face conversation. Customers may do their own research at home, but without an adviser it puts them at risk of misinformation. After all, no two mortgage products are the same, so a consumer may end up with something that doesn’t fit their requirements. This is where a hybrid approach can really help – we have the efficiency of AdviserTech alongside the human touch of our advisers.
FR: What challenges are facing brokers, lenders and consumers in the current financial landscape?
As with many industries, the political climate and the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit has had a huge impact on the financial services sector. Regulation is a particular challenge, as many regulations have been set by the EU and may need renegotiating, which will be a very lengthy process – and, of course, the longer the uncertainty continues, the higher the risk of a more serious impact on the market.
For lenders, a saturated market is always one of the biggest challenges. Consumers have access to such a wide range of financial products that they are spoilt for choice – it’s far harder to stand out amongst competitors, which is why businesses need to focus on developing a USP that will edge them above the rest of the market.
The saturation also poses a challenge for consumers, who can get overwhelmed by the options available to them – which means they may be picking a product that doesn’t align with their needs. Or, even worse, delaying or putting off financial decisions for fear of making the wrong financial decision.
FR: If you could see one headline about the financial services market in 2020, what would it be?
I’d like to see ‘the return of the personal adviser’ as the first port of call when looking for a mortgage or other financial product – many people now start looking online immediately, but without really knowing what they are looking for. Speaking to an adviser is a far better starting point, as they will be able to discuss the nuances of an individual’s unique circumstances in a way that a website or app just can’t do.
Automation and technology is taking over an increasing amount of industries, but we’re focused on working alongside tech to enhance our high level of personal service, rather than replace to it.