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Ian McKenna: A closer look at Mortgage Brain

An in-depth look at one the mortgage technology market’s major forces, Mortgage Brain

With the mortgage market finally showing signs of a serious recovery, it is a good time to look at the technology available to help advisers and how this has evolved.

Two major players dominate the mortgage technology market. I looked at Trigold and how well it fits as part of the Iress acquisition of Avelo a few weeks ago (see Why the Iress/Avelo deal could be good for Advisers, Money Marketing 16 September). The other giant in mortgage technology is, of course, Mortgage Brain.

Owned by six of the UK’s largest mortgage lenders Barclays, Lloyds, Nationwide, RBS, Santander and Virgin Money, Mortgage Brain was started as a mortgage- sourcing provider but has now evolved through organic development and acquisition to offer a range of mortgage software from mortgage client management software through sourcing and application submission and most recently the provision of apps for both advisers and consumers.

In a world where consu-mers increasingly run their lives digitally through mobile devices and smart phones, these apps are an ideal way for potential buyers to begin their homebuying experience.

The UK mortgages consumer app available on the iOS and Android platforms is typically downloaded between 20,000 to 30,000 times per month and helps consumers explore mortgage products and find an adviser. The app includes tools which enable users to work out how much they can borrow and how much their monthly payments will be and to help them calculate if they can save money by remortgaging as well as the impact of rates changing and overpayment.

The app encourages consumers to find a broker in their area and leads generated from the system can be fed into The Key, Mortgage Brain’s main client management system. The companion iSource app for advisers costs £10 plus VAT per user per month and has been built specifically for iPad. It provides full sourcing capability, with a number of filtering options, although KFIs are not available. The sourcing data is updated twice a day. Any data captured within iSource can be fully transferred to The Key.

Mortgage Brain recently announced it will launch a new cross-platform sourcing system called Mortgage Brain Anywhere during 2014, that is, a system capable of working on any browser or any operating system. Consequently, I do not propose exploring its current sourcing product in detail but will provide an early view on Mortgage Brain Anywhere as soon as I can get access to the service.

The Key is Mortgage Brain’s flagship client management system although it does still maintain the Mortgage Stream product for smaller advisers. For £40 plus VAT per user per month, The Key provides full integration and seamless straight-through processing with Mortgage Brain for sourcing and Mortgage Trading Exchange for application submission.

It allows for white-labeling so it can be used as part of an adviser’s online client and introducer-facing services within its existing website. It can also be integrated with other back-office systems such as those that may be used by an organisation that is predominantly an investment advice firm but where a small number of advisers specialise in mortgages and need the detailed mortgage lead management capability it provides. Multiple hierarchical layers can accommodate telesales environments.

Electronic ID capability is not currently provided but will be added shortly. The system has a full report generation functionality, including reasons why letters and other documents. These are fully configurable by the adviser firm.

In addition, it can scan and store copies of documents which in turn can then be emailed from The Key directly to lenders or client when necessary.

The factfind can be also customised and configured by users and includes simple needs analysis for protection. The budget planner is not yet fully MMR compliant but again this will addressed shortly in a new release. Case checking functionality can be configured at firm and individual adviser level.

Once an application is sub-mitted, the system creates a workflow, with actions, tasks, dates, etc, all configurable by the adviser firm.

One of the most powerful features is the extent of pre-population across the system which extends to lenders’ application forms. The system automatically creates a full audit trail, with all communication between iSource Mortgage Brain, MTE and The Key recorded, with no break in the process.

Full complaint handling and recording functionality is included, with documents and audit trail stored under each individual client. The system also integrates with Microsoft Outlook for diary functions.

For protection quotes, the system integrates with both The Exchange & Assureweb. While this capability is also included in the Mortgage Brain Sourcing software, the depth of integration within The Key is far more detailed.

The overall integrated process that Mortgage Brain is able to deliver to the adviser from lead generation via the consumer app through the iPad for initial sourcing, MBL and The Key to produce the full range of regulatory documents and then onward transmission to lenders via Mortgage Trading Exchange is a really good example
of how integrated business processes should work in the 21st century.

Looking at this does make me think there are some serious questions to ask life offices and platforms about how they can deliver similar seamless interaction between their systems and the software used to run adviser businesses.

Mortgage Brain shows the level of integration advisers are seeking for investment and protection business. Looking at the benefits of the process advisers are being given to submit mortgage business, it is not surprising fewer and fewer advisers are prepared to put up with current protection services.

The new development Mortgage Brain is delivering for 2014 can only improve the way advisers do business and I look forward to exploring these in more detail in the coming months.

Ian McKenna is director of the Finance & Technology Research Centre

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