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Clicks and mortar

Getting a mortgage used to entail reams of correspondence between lenders,

IFAs and their clients.

Borrowers are now on the verge of being able to click through the whole

process from the comfort of their home.

With the e-commerce bill passing through Parliament, many lenders claim to

be on the brink of offering complete e-mortgages. First Active managing

director Tony Ward says: “As soon as the Government legalises digitised

signatures, our systems will be geared up to provide a totally online

mortgage application. transaction and management process.”

The Mortgage Code Compliance Board recently formed a working party to

examine e-mortgages with the emphasis on compliance and monitoring

standards concerning consumer information. Chief executive Luke March says:

“There needs to be as robust control over e-mortgages as traditional

channels. People need to be protected from pressing buttons too easily as a

mortgage is a significant lifetime purchase.”

The Council of Mortgage Lenders will form part of the working party.

Director general Michael Coogan says: “We are moving more and more towards

a paperless way to get a mortgage. Legalising digital signatures will free

time and simplify the way for IFAs and consumers to get mortgages but

security needs to be tight.”

Lenders predict that the legalisation of digital signatures will

revolutionise the mortgage process, which currently cannot be completed

without a paper transaction.

Software company Crisp business development director Martin Jones says:

“Once the ball and chain of digital signatures is severed and they are made

legal, it will revolutionise the way to do business. It will enable foreign

competition in the mortgage market. Consumers will be able to shop around

on a global basis in a way they have never been able to do before.”

For IFAs who want to stay ahead of the game, there are practical ways to

ensure a slice of the e-mortgage market.

Jones says IFAs will survive the e-mortgage revolution only by maintaining

client loyalty. “The success of IFAs in the e-mortgage market can only be

achieved if they hold on to existing clients and play an active part in

e-commerce,” he says.

Nationwide central services divisional director John Sutherland says:

“Electronic mortgages are going to have a huge effect on IFAs. They can

take advantage of researching mortgages on the net in their own time as the

net is available 24 hours a day and not simply during office hours.”

Coogan says: “It is important that IFAs send out the message that they are

well equipped for the new technological world in which we live. IFAs can

use the net to access best-buy tables and research the best mortgages for

their clients. They can use the net to compile their own best-buy tables to

keep clients well informed.”

March says: “IFAs could produce a monthly newsletter of all the latest

mortgage information and email it to clients. This would keep clients up to

date on the mortgage market and provide easy communication between IFAs and

clients.”

Marlborough Stirling director of mortgage services Richard Swan believes

IFAs must exploit the value of speed in regard to the mortgage market. He

says: “IFAs can research the best mortgage for their clients on the net as

well as secure a provisional acceptance from the lender. Lenders can

validate the mortgage in principle on the net which saves IFAs and their

clients a great deal of time.”

But he warns that IFAs must have suitable software to gain the maximum

potential from the e-mortgage market. “IFAs need to work with software

companies to use systems which are compatible with providers&#39 software.

This means they will not have to fax or send the application but simply

email it to the provider to receive electronic validation.”

Coogan says: “Electronic communication between product providers and IFAs

reduces the time clients spend waiting for their mortgage to be validated.

There is plenty of scope for IFAs in the e-mortgage market. There will

always be clients who will want advice and to have their hands held through

the mortgage process as it is one of the most important decisions of their

lives.”

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