With the FSA confirming that nearly 800 firms in the sector shut their doors last year and predicting a similar decline for the year ahead, anything that helps advisers explore new markets must be useful.
New functionality within the latest version of Mortgage Brain is well timed as it will allow advisers to process enquiries for properties in a number of European countries as simply as if they were dealing with a UK mortgage.
Working in partnership with two specialist overseas packagers – Active Mortgage Services and Conti – Mortgage Brain is now including advances for properties in other countries.
The Active Mortgage Services products have already been included giving access to loans for properties in France, Spain and Italy. Products from Conti covering Turkey, Portugal, Spain and France will be added shortly, with Conti expecting to include properties in a wide range of other nations later in the year.
Essentially, the system has been extended so that a small number of additional questions are captured in the normal mortgage-sourcing and submission process, relevant to loans on overseas properties, otherwise the system operates in the same way as for domestic advances both for sourcing and electronic submission of applications.
One of the strengths of the Mortgage Brain system is the extent of data it can import from advisers’ client management systems. A data file of around 800 items can be extracted from systems where Mortgage Brain integration has been put in place. This includes not only its own The Key system but also Crystal, Mortgage Stream, Mortgage Keeper and a range of bespoke systems used by major mortgage distributors such as Openwork and Countrywide.
The process is started by selecting sourcing from the workflow area within the system and entering the client’s basic information and mortgage requirements with as much as possible being pre-populated in the method outlined above.
Having selected the sourcing option within the system, users begin to complete the first filter screen. At this point, they select the overseas option as opposed to UK and from a drop-down box select the country in which the property is located.
A second filter screen prompts the user to select further filtering options such as the use of the property including main residence, second homes, property for a dependant or a holiday home. The adviser then carries out a search that will identify the products that fit the client’s criteria. These are displayed in a scheme list window. The monetary amounts are displayed in euros where this is appropriate.
A scheme report to the right of the scheme list window provides greater detail on the product highlighted. On the left, lender notes are also displayed which can be maximised. These provide further information on the lender’s underwriting criteria.
After selecting a product, the system provides a non-regulated illustration as overseas products are still outside the UK mortgage regulation. Although some European states do not require any additional regulations, advisers would be wise to double-check this for individual territories.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries can be an invaluable source of guidance and a factsheet on advising clients abroad can be downloaded from its website. Again, the illustration is displayed in euros if this is the chosen country’s currency.
After closing the illustration window, the system invites the adviser to submit an application which is processed via the Mortgage Trading Exchange.
This will reuse all the information already captured as part of the sourcing process and the adviser then adds such additional information as is necessary. This can also bring through additional information from the client management system that was captured when the sourcing part of the system was populated.
The data-migration process is two-way so that information is also returned to the client management system if details have changed during the application process.
Reusing data in this way is a major improvement over the systems provided to advisers by either the life and pension industry or the platform market. Product providers and software suppliers in those markets could make advisers’ lives far easier if they were to develop similar functionality.
Having completed the application, it is forwarded electronically to the packager which assembles the necessary documentation and submits it to the respective lender. This can only take place once all mandatory fields are completed. After submission, it is displayed in the send/track area within their system an immediate response is provided to the adviser to confirm submission.
By returning to the workflow area within Mortgage Brain, the illustration that was produced for the client is stored in the client file.
This can be emailed to the client if necessary although advisers should remember to encrypt any data that would be subject to the Data Protection Act when using email. The completed MTE form will also be stored in the client file once it has been submitted.
The system also offers advisers the ability to browse products and examine criteria. The browser window contains all products held within Mortgage Brain sourcing. Tabs and menu allow the broker to narrow their browsing towards certain products if required. This enables more detailed scrutiny of scheme criteria if required.
The current weakness of sterling against the euro means fewer UK citizens will be looking to buy property in the eurozone. Where enquires are received, having the ability to process applications in the same way as in the UK is a major benefit, especially as these additional features have been built in at no extra cost.