First Mortgage invests in digital mortgage advice

Ryan Bembridge

March 15, 2017

Edinburgh broker First Mortgage is investing in an online mortgage proposition inspired by tech firms Habito and Trussle.

It will potentially allow customers to get advice online without speaking to an intermediary face-to-face or by telephone.

Ian McGrail (pictured), director at First Mortgage, reckoned the Financial Conduct Authority will allow customers to ‘self-select’ mortgages in such a way after carrying out its mortgage competition review.

Let’s scrap the phrase ‘robo-advice’

He said: “We are currently investing in the tech side to allow customers to self-select mortgages.

“There’s a lot of noise about disruption in the market and using smarter algorithms to get the best product.

“We believe millennials and the modern consumer want the choice to get advice face-to-face, by telephone or online.”

The fee-free broker wants to focus on tech after launching an office in Manchester last year to go with a franchise branch in Newcastle as well as an Elgin office.

When introducing the competition review the FCA pledged to look at ‘technical solutions to problems’ including ‘greater use of digital channels to deliver information or advice’.

It will publish an interim report in summer 2017.

After investing in digital mortgage advice McGrail has earmarked Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool as locations the firm is likely to expand into – although the Scottish National Party’s renewed push for independence may make that more challenging.

First Mortgage primarily focuses on first-time buyers so it prioritises cities where buying a house is affordable and sees the appeal of adopting the latest tech.

The firm employs 135 staff and turned over around £1.25bn of business in the year to March 2017, while McGrail said that is likely to rise to £1.5bn in the year ahead.

He added: “The ambition is to become the UK’s consumer champion for first-time buyers and grow across the UK.”

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