Just under 10 years ago, people were talking about the end of in-person mortgage advice. Companies such as Trussle and Habito that offered an entirely digital advice service were the future, so we were told. The reality has proven to be somewhat different though.
A combination of higher costs and lower rates of conversion made it difficult to turn digital-only advice into a profitable venture, while the public remained sceptical. The model proved to be inadequate to the often-complicated circumstances and needs of customers, with the firms mentioned above eventually opting to bring in human mortgage advisors who had completed CeMAP courses.
For all their advantages in productivity and efficiency, digital advice firms struggle to actually convert customer leads into sales the way a human advisor can. That is leading to a slightly different future to the one that was forecast: a hybrid human/digital advice model.
This sees some of the early stages of the process digitised through AI chat-bots, before real advisors take over at a later stage. Equally, advisors are making more use of enhanced digital tools for sourcing products, establishing eligibility and completing forms.
What is needed moving forward is greater integration of the best digital tools and the adoption of common industry-wide standards. As part of that, there needs to be greater sharing of the best of these tools between mortgage lenders and advisors so that the benefit of them can be felt throughout the industry and at every stage of the application process.