Small Changes are the Secret to Innovation Success
Rose Jinks - February 6, 2019
By Matthew Tooth, the Chief Commercial Officer of LendInvest
For those hoping to
see the property industry embrace innovation, 2018 turned out to be something
of a mixed year.
For example, it has
been a particularly rough 12 months for those firms looking to introduce
greater use of technology into the estate agency business. Online agent Emoov
has gone into administration, with the likely loss of more than 100 jobs, while
leaving 5,000 vendors in limbo, while Connells has ditched its online venture
Hatched, admitting that the internet-only or hybrid estate agent business is
On the face of it,
estate agency would seem an area that is particularly ripe for a fresh
approach. Yet these attempts have hit significant difficulties, in my view
because they have tried to make changes too quickly.
The problems come
from the big model changes; for the businesses that promise to do things in a
completely new way, there are many more low profile failures than high profile
Instead it’s the
small, incremental changes that stick, so long as stakeholders can see the
immediate benefits. That’s an approach that we have adopted at LendInvest, and
it seems to be paying off, landing us the Innovative Lender of the Year award
at the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) awards.
Online lender portals
are a good example here. Not that long ago, they were something of a rarity,
but, today, they have become almost standard across the industry, covering both
mainstream lenders, and those who handle more niche and specialist areas of
Lenders are also
responding to the different ways that brokers access and use those portals. The
KPMG/Iress intermediary mortgage survey from this year found that more than two
thirds (69%) of lenders are optimising their portals for use on mobile devices,
while the ability to scan and upload documents is becoming widespread, with
almost nine out of every ten portals including this functionality.
These portals aren’t
about revolutionising the way that brokers and lenders communicate, but rather
identifying a way that we can incorporate technology to speed up that
communication, and provide intermediaries with the tools and information they
need in a format that suits them.
Another example of a
small, but important, innovation to the home loan process is the Land
Registry’s digital mortgage deed service, which launched this year.
It allows borrowers
to sign their deed online, proving their identity with the use of the gov.uk
Verify system. No longer will borrowers have to find witnesses when they sign a
physical deed, and then rely on the postal service to get those forms
Now, it can all be
done online – a simple technological innovation that speeds up an existing
service and delivers an experience that many will prefer.
There’s still plenty
of room for improvement, of course. Lenders have much work to do on their
portals, as the KPMG/Iress study highlights that more than a third of advisers
want lender portals to be more intuitive and easier to use. Intermediaries were
also found to be keen on more frequent updates to online systems, such as the
inclusion of real-time tracking and milestone updates.
evidently seen not only how portals in their current form can help, but also
flagged up where the future innovation needs to come in order to deliver what they
really need. It’s those small, incremental developments that are the key.
As such, it’s
incumbent on lenders to take that feedback on board and look closely at how
their methods can be tweaked – the small technological changes they can make,
which will make a material difference to the workloads of the brokers they rely
The mortgage market
has unquestionably been slower than other segments of financial services when
it comes to embracing technology, but there are reasons for that, and this
market will evolve on a gradual basis, with the best technology businesses
eventually coming out on top. Those who try to introduce wholesale changes risk
moving too quickly for the market.
Nonetheless, we can’t
afford to standstill. Innovation will come, it just won’t be overnight.
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