The potential merger of Trigold and Mortgage Brain could see the combined firm having control of over 80 per cent of the mortgage-sourcing market.
Some have argued this might fall foul of the Enterprise Act or Competition Commission although most believe it is not on the radar of the CC.
Financial Technology Research Centre director Ian McKenna says if there was an immediate concern over competition on the deal, it is unlikely to last long.
He says: “There will always be competition. If they do try for a monopoly, someone else will come out to present a competitor. It will be interesting to see if there is any backlash to come from brokers though.”
But Highclere Financial Services managing director and IFA Defence Union member Alan Lakey is more nervous about the prospect of a consolidation.
He says: “A monopoly is never a good thing generally. But the main concern over these systems is that neither has full functionality and that is what we are all ultimately looking for.”
There are mixed views on whether a merger would deliver a better service and a true end-to-end solution.
Capita Financial Services business and commercial development director Graham Coxell warns of potential problems that arise when two online systems are combined.
He says: “It is all about the technology. We work with Trigold but this would give a wider access but they would need to ensure they were delivering a new truly online process with links straight through.”
Many brokers are enthused by the prospect of only having to link to a single system rather than multiple ones.
London & Country head of communications David Hollingworth says at first glances the benefits are apparent.
But he cautions: “We would need to wait and see if they plan to run both brands alongside each other or if they would totally integrate the two.”
Debbie J Boyes principal Debbie Boyes says she is concerned that this could result in brokers only being left with one system that did not quite meet her needs.
Boyes notes that both systems have their strengths and weaknesses and insists that any combined platform would need significant features added to improve the current offerings.
She says: “I cannot see it improving things unless they are planning to build a proper e-platform on one system that will allow all the lenders to be aligned at the same time.”
Lakey also calls for an improvement of mortgagesourcing systems’ filter technology. He says that the systems can be used to isolate certain types of mortgages, such as buyto-let, remortgage or self-certification but then regularly go on to ask for subsequent information that is clearly irrelevant based on the first filter.
Coxell says he hears consistent calls for mortgagesourcing systems to bring in click through and apply for a deal after getting a lender’s early underwriting decision.
Another concern is mass-licence use by big networks and distribution organisations and whether a combined system would allow a pre-populated immediate transfer.
Sesame member and James Trickett & Son IFA Jane Blezard says she would be hugely disappointed if a move to a new network prevented her from using her previous system which contains all of her client data.
She says: “It would be better if all the networks were able to integrate on to the same system. The main feature that makes a difference is integration with the back-office system that you are using.
“I have not yet had the opportunity to use Mortgage Brain but as long as MTE was still available to me, I would not be averse to the two merging. The main things that we look for are the ability to pre-populate and a link to my backoffice system.”
Bankhall marketing director Richard Howells says integration with the back-office system is crucial if the merger is to take technology in the industry forward.
Howells says: “If there is one sourcing system for the market, that can be a good thing but more important is whether there is one trading platform and can link to the back-office systems.”
Purely Mortgages chief executive Mark Chilton says what the market really needs is a single trading platform that is supported by the entire lending community.
He says: “It is not necessarily the sourcing element but more the transactional platform that is required. If we could have a proper single trading platform, one conduit to all the lenders, that would be the solution.”
Chilton believes that taking the sourcing system to the next level could be key to success in the long