Carlos Thibaut is a board member of the Society of Mortgage Professionals (SMP)

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be in sight. Whilst there is still some way to go with vaccinations, and concerns around the needed to track and deal with possible mutations, the future nevertheless looks positive.

In the mortgage sector, we’ve seen the crucial role tech has played in keeping the housing market open. The adoption of tech has undoubtedly been accelerated, and many initiatives are now underway to deliver a better more efficient house buying sector.

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A brave new world of an interconnected ecosystem, with application programming interfaces (APIs) driving data collection from customers to intermediaries and manufacturers is within reach.

There are many hurdles to overcome, but with all stakeholders engaged we can envisage a world where all the major moving parts of the housing transaction are digitized allowing advisers to spend more time with customers advising, and manufacturers delivering, new and more customized products to market faster than ever before.

So, how can businesses ensure they have the right tech in place to play and thrive in a more interconnected mortgage market?

The first place to start is to acknowledge that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. By following a few simple guidelines, you can ensure you have the right tech in place to support your business and your customers now and going forward.

Whilst you cannot run a successful business without tech, the tech in and of itself cannot make a successful business. The right tech can only be chosen if it supports your business plan and objectives, it needs to be owned by the business and it’s employees and stakeholders, and not simply something that can be given to the IT department to sort. Your IT solutions should be part of the fabric and culture of your business.

So, what should businesses do to ensure they have the right tech in place, or select a new solution?

I believe there are five key areas that any tech platform should address, namely: customer engagement – portal, comms, social media; efficiency – operational processes, stakeholders; data – collection and storage, use of data for analytics, sharing of data; integration – API functionality, current and future integration with third parties, providers; cyber security risk management – the growth of remote working means all systems should satisfy the highest security standards.

To ensure your chosen tech ticks all the boxes, I suggest the following process:

Check your tech supports your business plan

Ensure your tech addresses any areas for improvement, from sales support processes, customer engagement, MI, future expansion plans, to changes in your business model.

Involve stakeholders and users and come up with a MoSCoW rating (Must have, Could have,  Wish to have)for functionality and features.

Map your MoSCoW ratings against your current tech or your supplier shortlist.

Factfind your tech provider

Tech providers should be long-term partners, so it is essential to ensure you find out about their business.

Great features and user experience is vital, easy to use systems make for happy customers and staff.

But you want to ensure your chosen tech partner can support you through a rapidly changing environment, so ask the following questions:

Does your provider have extensive third party integrations, can you customize the product or select modules that suit my business? Having a tech solution with multiple providers of core functions that aren’t integrated isn’t efficient and carries unnecessary risks.

How do they communicate with users and handle feature requests, do they have user forums?

What new features and functionality have been added in the last two years, how many have users asked for these upgrades?

What is the vision for the business, do they have a strategic view of the potential new mortgage/housing market eco system?

What is their current roadmap for product launches do they have a track record of innovation and responding to user demand?

How secure is the system, do they conduct regular penetration tests, will they share results with you?

Speak to existing and new users, do they have well respected and established businesses using and recommending the system, or will you be a guinea pig for an untried system?

What sort of businesses use the tech, are they similar to yours?

What is the support like? All businesses make mistakes but it’s how they rectify errors and issues that tells  you if you will be dealing with a business that puts it’s customers first.

Make sure users in the business see demos and ask to trial the tech for a period before committing to a contract.

The brave new world of a better, interconnected mortgage and housing market has been given renewed stimulus with the seismic changes of the past year. What the changes will look like, and at what pace is difficult to predict, but businesses can put in place the building blocks of the new eco-system by ensuring they have an integrated tech solution with a provider with the vision and capabilities to ensure they keep at the forefront of industry change and innovation.