We spoke to Stephen Nobes, head of network and club relationships at Smartr365, about how small brokers can compete with the largest firms in the UK and why connectivity is key.
FR: You’ve recently become head of network and club relationships at Smartr365 – congrats! What does your day to day role involve?
Thank you! As you would expect, I’m responsible for managing the relationships Smartr365 has with mortgage networks and clubs all around the UK. Through my experience as a mortgage broker, MortgageGym and IRESS, I understand the friction points in the mortgage process and to me, Smartr365’s solution absolutely stood out from the crowd.
Smartr365 always looks for new ways to add value for their broker members, usually focusing on technology which helps to streamline processes and deliver increased profitability. For example, the MortgageKanban and SmartrDoc tools. Smartr365 is committed to delivering a platform which does just that through automation.
I also spend lots of time meeting with brokers to understand what they need from our system. The collaborative development of our platform is central to what we do, and listening to businesses of all sizes, from one-man-bands to much larger firms, ensures that the features we deliver make a real difference to day-to-day operations.
FR: You’ve been at Smartr365 for over a month now – what have you learnt so far?
The main thing has been the agile nature of the business. I recently undertook a Gap analysis with a large brokerage, and the director said they felt like they were entering into a partnership with Smartr365, rather than simply buying a solution. That’s the key in adopting a new system, and we have to be able to adapt to each business’ needs so we can add real value.
FR: How do you see the mortgage market looking in 10 years’ time?
It’s been said before, but connectivity is key. When I was a broker, I had four different systems that all processed small segments of the mortgage journey. With the current focus on tech in the mortgage industry, and new individual services announced all the time, we might soon see 10 or more different systems. That isn’t necessarily a good thing though.
For the everyday broker, and even large firms, that’s unmanageable. It’s overcomplicated. Platforms like Smartr365 offer brokers all the features they need in one system begin to dominate. There’s already been lots of progress at the front end of the process through APIs like MOGO and Digidentity, but there’s still lots to do regarding completions. Things will only improve over the next 10 years, and connectivity should be a central focus for mortgage tech.
FR: How can small brokers compete with the largest firms in the UK?
Being small allows you to do something bigger firms can’t – you can provide a very personal and tailored service. You can really take the time to know and understand every customer.
Technology reduces the time a broker spends walking clients through processes like collecting personal details and direct applications. This gives brokers more time to give advice.
Smaller firms should choose a technological solution which reduces as much of the administrative burden as possible, helping them prioritise the personal advice which can set them apart from bigger competitors.
FR: If you could see one headline this year, what would it be?
I’d love to see ‘automation in the mortgage process takes a big leap forward’. It would also be great to see lenders working closely with brokers to make the whole mortgage journey more efficient and better for the customer. Oh, and if Liverpool won the Premier League, that would be a bonus!