Industry still resistant to tech innovations
Canadian mortgage companies remain incurious about various technological innovations and their productivity may be suffering as a result.
John van Oosterhout is the director of partnerships at Value Connect, an appraisals company, and he says that systems integration should be a priority throughout the industry, but that it isn’t. Value Connect, for example, uses an application programming interface (API) to create a bridge between disparate systems.
“Standard in the industry now for a mortgage broker or agent is they key something into whatever application they’re using, and then key it in again into another system, but the technology exists to create a much simpler solution,” said van Oosterhout. “We have a one-click appraisal ordering button that we put on the CRM, and the appraisal gets ordered instead of having to re-enter information. It saves a ton of time and the customer gets updates throughout.
“Once you build those APIs, the systems start talking to each other and you can build in automation, machine learning and all kinds of other great things, but the two systems need to link first.”
However, adoption is the greatest roadblock that presently exists, added van Oosterhout.
“Canadians, overall, are quick adopters for technology, but that hasn’t kept pace in the business space because, for a long time, what we’ve had has worked and there’s no motivation to change, but consumers are expecting more,” he continued. “They want things done faster, cheaper, and they want more information. There are things to enhance client experience, broker and agent experience, and lender experience.”
One company that has made inroads on that front—and, in the process, simplified notoriously fastidious private lending guidelines—is My Broker Bee Inc., an online marketplace that matches brokers with private lenders according to information included in the borrower’s application—which means, conceivably, 20 lenders could be a match—at which point the broker chooses the right fit.
“It all goes through a proprietary decision tree that auto finds the lending options based on the application submitted and conditionally commits the application instantly,” said Dennis Marek, My Broker Bee’s president and COO. “When we onboard a private lender, we take on their lending matrix and their lending requirements to a very specific level—whether it’s credit requirements, postal codes, borrowers’ financial worthiness requirements, or property type, because not all lenders facilitate a mortgage on the same criteria.
“We get very, very granular, and what that does is give the agent or broker the ability to find lending options that are specific only to that application.”
All the different fees and borrowing costs per lender are revealed up front, and so is the fee My Broker Bee collects from borrowers. While the platform appears to be a sign of the industry’s future, it is also far ahead of its time.
“Part of the challenge in our industry today is there’s a lot of information out there and it’s all disconnected,” said Marek. “Unless the machine learning engine has access to all of that information, it won’t know how to use it. We have the capacity and knowledge, and we’re slowly gaining ground on private lending transaction history, but it would be too early to release the hounds on machine learning at this point. But we definitely will in the future.”