Getting a mortgage online is becoming increasingly easy with a number of digital mortgage brokers launching over the past year – but from next month you’ll be able to do the whole thing in Facebook.
Mortgage broker Nuvo has developed smart technology that uses artificial intelligence to power a chat bot that talks to you through Facebook messenger.
It asks you questions about yourself, the property and what you are looking to do – buy a new home or remortgage, for example – and in a couple of minutes it searches 50,000 mortgage products and will recommend the right one for you.
Nick Sherratt and Richard Hayes are hoping to launch the online broker early next year
The AI bit means you can ask it questions in any format and it’ll answer them – rather than guiding you through a rigid set of predetermined questions and answers.
If you get sick of texting a robot, there’s also the option to pick up the phone and talk to a mortgage adviser directly.
And the whole thing is free – in the same way as other mortgage brokers, Nuvo gets paid by the lender if and when you decide to take the mortgage they recommend.
This is Money caught up with the firm’s founders Richard Hayes, 32, and Nick Sherratt, 36, to find out more.
What is Nuvo trying to do for customers?
Historically, if a customer wanted advice they would see a broker or independent financial adviser. However, recent research we conducted showed nearly 40 per cent of Britons do not, or cannot use a financial adviser, meaning that they must rely on their own research once they have received a list of prices from comparison websites.
With mortgage rates and offers changing daily, it’s a financial minefield for consumers to navigate blindly. Most people are unaware that brokers can offer them more product choice for mortgages than going direct to lenders.
In fact brokers can access 10 times the number of deals a consumer can access directly.
Nuvo provides easy and free access to a large number of mortgage products and provides advice on the best option to ensure that customers really are getting the right product, every time.
The level of information needed depends on what customers want from Nuvo
How does it work?
Customers log in to Facebook Messenger and start a conversation with the Nuvo chat bot.
A quick quote can take less than 60 seconds. We ask for a few simple pieces of information so we can understand the customer’s requirements and present options back to them as quickly as possible.
We will ask for details such as date of birth, household income, and a few questions about their circumstances such as whether they are a first-time buyer or if they will be renting the house out.
From this information we can give a detailed list of options, tailored to each customer.
The level of information depends on what customers want from Nuvo and which product is required.
For example, the information needed for a new mortgage or a remortgage differs slightly. For life insurance and income protection products, the information is different again.
All communications from our website and chat bot are protected to the industry standard and latest security protocol. Customer data is stored securely in our database with managed access policies and secured backups.
Is the whole process online?
Behind the chat bot is a team with over 150 years collective experience in mortgages and they are constantly monitoring chat bot conversations.
We pride ourselves on our team of experts who are ready to jump on a call or live chat, should a customer prefer to speak to a real person.
We believe in the power of people just as much as the power of our advanced tech. The team will oversee all final purchases.
Nuvo is more than a chat bot; it is also a fully qualified mortgage broker. We are also qualified to advise on insurance options too, making sure the customer genuinely receives the best advice and is fully protected.
When will you launch?
We are live already but are still in beta. The next release will see a full online mortgage journey, which is due to be delivered early 2018.
Customers will be able to complete all their factual information with the chat bot which will speed up the mortgage application. Customers will always be able to speak with an adviser should they choose to however.
What makes you different from other online brokers?
Nuvo has access to as many mortgage deals as traditional brokers but we also provide secured loans, life insurance and income protection – we have access to over 50,000 deals in total.
We also allow our customers to see all of their options and prices so they can compare, but we make tailored recommendations in accordance to the information provided.
Our research told us that customers want to see the options we have compared. Our approach is about transparency and empowering the customer so they can be confident in the option they choose, rather than just being told what the best option is. We will of course advise and recommend, but we offer full disclosure too.
>> Compare online mortgage brokers here
Nuvo has access to as many mortgage deals as traditional brokers
We believe we have developed the first digital mortgage broker chat bot that is powered by artificial intelligence which makes it easy for customers to ask questions at any point during the process.
The chat bot uses natural language understanding which will only improve with more and more interactions, meaning that our chat bot can carry out conversations that feel comfortable.
We’ve heard rumblings that competitors are now looking at launching something similar, showing that this kind of tech is exactly what the sector needs.
We want to provide clarity on making some of life’s major financial decisions, giving people more confidence to buy. At any point, customers can ask to speak to one of our team in the office if they would prefer to talk to a real person.
We also think we stand out among our competitors because we have been in financial services for 10 years, we aren’t new to this game.
It wasn’t a bad experience of getting a mortgage that made us do this, it’s our extensive knowledge and understanding of the market that allowed us to see a better way so we turned to tech.
This knowledge and expertise allows us to advise and guide like a traditional broker but with all the convenience of being able to do it digitally.