Jennafer Holt Senior Marketing Executive more 2 life
Booming industry primed for tech overhaul
It’s no secret that the equity release industry has been doing incredibly well of late. Homeowners have been releasing the cash from their homes in larger numbers than ever before, due to poor pension performance, lack of savings, and a slew of interest-only mortgages maturing without suitable repayment plans in place.
Technology paves the way At more 2 life, we have invested heavily in our online portal, fastpath, so that the vast majority of our applications don’t require any paperwork, or even a wet signature. In fact, our portal automatically conducts ID checks, legal checks and instructs valuations with just one click. On average, fastpath processes applications 10 days quicker than a manual process, advisers are known to complete KFIs in less than one minute, and we have taken an application through to offer in just 4 hours & 40 minutes. While our service can perhaps never be as instantaneous as Just Eat and Uber (then again, who knows?), we are working hard to ensure that we keep up with demand, deliver the fastest outcomes possible, whilst also maintaining excellent customer service and providing advisers with the tools necessary to cut down paper-work and increase the amount of time they spend with clients.
In just five years the equity release market has almost quadrupled in size to hit £3.9 billion of lending in 2018. The impact of ever increasing demand on lenders and advisers has been felt across the industry, as they struggle to continue to deliver excellent service. It comes as no surprise that this rapid increase in business volume has placed immense strain on those who have stuck with 100% paper-based processes, and most importantly, the strain lands on operational and customer service functions before anywhere else. It also impacts advisers and their ability to service as many customers as possible. Not only has demand for equity release increased rapidly, but technology and the culture of retirement have been changing rapidly, too. Today’s retiree is not the ‘kick back and relax’ trope of the past, but are tech- literate, savvy and demanding consumers who view retirement as a time of freedom and adventure, and not as a time for resigning to the armchair. The era of instant gratification All consumers are becoming incredibly demanding. Thanks to companies and apps such as Just Eat, Uber, and online banking, we have become accustomed to amenities which deliver instant gratification; and not in lieu of great customer service. For a sector in the later life lending industry, which is still largely paper-based, it can be difficult to keep up with processing a record number of applications, whilst delivering acceptable levels of service to customers. All of us - retirees included – have come to expect a certain level of speed, convenience and efficiency from all day-to-day transactions, which simply isn’t provided by 100% paper-based processes. While you could argue that financial service sectors such as equity release are more customer-centric than others, due to the importance of face-to-face, impartial advice, it’s still true to say that more needs to be done to boost customer satisfaction.
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