There’s nary a doubt that, irrespective of industry, technology is the future, but in the mortgage world where relationship cultivation is as important as explaining payment plan brass tacks, balancing technology with the physical broker experience is imperative.
Chantel Chapman, a financial fitness coach and broker of record at MogoMortgage, says that until consumers grow comfortable enough with technology, there will always be a need to balance it with in-person broker consultations. The MogoMortgage App has proven very popular with customers, in part, because of its user-friendly dashboard.
“When we built our experience, we were looking to find a balance between the traditional benefits of working with a mortgage broker – advice and guidance when buying the biggest purchase of their life – mixed with a little bit of digital to make it convenient for that person,” she said. “We’ve taken some elements digital – like payment amount and date, what they’ve paid off in principal, who their lender is, questions that they’d have after funding – and given that all to them on their dashboard.”
Chapman maintains good brokers will always be in demand, even with technology’s expanding role, because mortgages are inherently convoluted.
“There’s always going to be room for the good broker,” she continued. “There are things that always change in the marketplace that you may need to rely on an expert to guide you through.”
James Loewen, a mortgage broker with Loewen Group Mortgages, says the brokerage’s mortgage app is an extension of the services it already offers, albeit an expeditious one. Rather than spending time driving back and forth delivering signed documents to brokers and lawyers while balancing a job and family life, it can be done using the app – which also provides users with suggestions for realtors, home inspectors, insurance brokers and lawyers.
Like Chapman, Loewen says today’s services marry the in-person experience with technology.
“When we meet in person with clients, part of the meeting is showing them how to download the app,” he said. “It makes the in-person meeting even better by expanding the activities we can do together. Any monkey can quote interest rates, but people still want tools. It’s also for clients who are trepidatious about meeting in person. People sometimes don’t want to commit because then they feel obligated to use the agent, but the app gives them a feel for how we work.”
Younger homebuyers, like millennials and even Gen-Xers, expect mobile apps for everything, including mortgages, he added.
Loewen is working with the Blink mortgage app to upgrade The Loewen Group App. It’s presently beta testing but it’s slated to hit the market very soon.
In spite of slow adopters, technology will doubtless catch on, like cellular phones did first and smartphones later. Loewen still encounters people too reticent to trust technology with their finances, but he says they’re taking a backward approach to the equation.
“I hear people say all the time they won’t use online banking because they don’t trust technology, so they go to tellers,” he said. “I used to work in a bank and tellers use the exact same platform and system as online banking. All you’ve done by integrating a human with a teller is created an opportunity for human error. All the errors we found at the bank were human. You have higher security because you removed human error.”
It’s difficult to imagine technology ever supplanting mortgage professionals. Chapman used first-time buyers as an example of tyros dependent on guidance.
“Mortgages are complicated,” said Chapman. “There are so many different options; it’s so case-by-case, so a lot of questions are always coming in.”