It’s readily apparent how important technology and, specifically, enabling technology is to mortgage and protection advice firms, particularly when it delivers operational efficiencies, expediting processes for customers, and ideally reducing costs for AR firms.

We conducted a recent survey of our network firms and a number of questions focused on what is most important to them, such as the ease of use of our independently-owned platform, Revolution, their high level of satisfaction with it, and potential areas of future investment and development. You might justifiably argue that the future is already within our grasp. Two tech-based stories recently captured my attention which perhaps tells us much about the adoption trajectory we’re on in our market, the interfaces bridging advisers and other stakeholders, and the future landscape of advisory services.

The technological trajectory of the mortgage market

First was MPowered Mortgages’ ChatGPT-backed chatbot tool to address adviser enquiries, and it seems obvious such applications will be utilised more and more by lenders, particularly as they seek to speed up communication between themselves and advisers, but also in terms of reducing the significant amount of inefficiency and the resources consumed.

I’ve heard of advisory firms employing people specifically to wait on the phone to lenders in order to ‘work through’ their call-waiting times and not miss their slot.

In nobody’s world can this be considered an effective use of time, money, and resources. If ChatGPT-backed tools are the way forward, then this can only be a good thing. On the more esoteric side, was a story that mortgage technology and broking firm, Koodoo, had created AI technology which had passed a CeMAP exam, securing grades over 70% in all three modules.

AI as a ‘co-pilot’ for human advisers

Immediately, there will be those who think an ‘advisory model’ based on AI- ‘advisers’ delivering advice will become the norm, but to say that the human element will be lost in such future propositions would, to my mind, be jumping way too far ahead. Plus, we’ve been down this route many times before in terms of robo-advice propositions and the vast majority of those, maybe all, never really got going and certainly failed to deliver a commercially successful solution.

However, as Koodoo point out, using this AI as a ‘co-pilot’ for advisers, working alongside humans to constantly check, update, highlight options, plus of course how it can support work in terms of ongoing compliance, risk analysis, customer ID checking and verification, seems like a very good idea and one we have been publicly talking about for quite some time.

As a network we very much recognise this, and our Revolution software system sits front and centre for us in terms of the benefits we know it delivers to Stonebridge firms. For example, our Check, Action, Resolve (CAR) system – launched two years ago – has now checked over 1.5 million files, which would normally have needed manual action and human intervention. We have effectively been able to directly reduce the human involvement, speeding up back-office processes and giving advisers an extra level of background checking and accountability, and the technology does so as a matter of course.

Meeting the expectations of advisers and customers

Recently we also introduced vulnerable customer functionality which, working as a series of prompts for advisers, Revolution helps them identify potential vulnerability through the answers provided within the factfind. In a Consumer Duty world, this is incredibly important and again utilises technology to support advisers, to help them record evidence, and to then act upon it.

We passionately believe there must be a continued focus on technology which helps drive all the benefits mentioned above, and with that must come the investment to match those ambitions. We have already invested close to £2m on developing robotic/AI-focused tools to help mortgage advisers and our commitment will not waver in the years ahead because, as will be patently obvious to all, continued progress in this area is a given, and therefore our commitment to it, is absolute. Advisers and their customers expect it.

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