Digital Mortgage Adviser CEO: Chatbot won’t replace advisers

Ryan Bembridge

September 12, 2016

Digital Mortgage Adviser will aim to complement rather than replace the traditional mortgage adviser, its chief executive Daniel Hegarty says.

Digital Mortgage Adviser has pledged to provide an indicative mortgage type in 10 minutes after analysing a customer’s employment, salary and personal life plans using a ‘conversational’ chatbot.

Hegarty (pictured), who founded Digital Mortgage Adviser’s parent Habito, has a background working for payday lender Wonga which he says gave him the inspiration to start an ‘artificially intelligent’ mortgage adviser.

Hegarty said: “I see this as a complementary rather than a replacement of face-to-face advice.

“It comes down to the consumer – we have customers who want to see a human.

“But as time goes on and generations shift some customers are going to want to transact online.”

Digital Mortgage Adviser gives clients the option of speaking to an adviser over the phone or online to seal deals, though Hegarty is exploring whether to do away with human involvement altogether.

He added: “We are looking to get rid of the broker at the end, but it may always be appropriate to see an adviser for at-risk customers such as those doing debt consolidation.

“Ultimately we want to automate everything and take the human out of the process unless they’re adding value.

“We want to do one thing at a time. This is a big first step – seeing customers are happy to interact with the chatbot.”

Between 2007 and 2014 Hegarty was Wonga’s head of decision science and then head of strategy and new ventures.

He said: “It’s a complicated sector but the technology used was first class and I saw an opportunity to take that learning and apply it to a new sector.

“We started working on this in 2015 when all the technology allowed us to do was sourcing and CRM systems.

“We had a clear mission to see if we could disrupt how people apply for mortgages in the UK.”

He says he has spoken to most of the high street lenders with the help of Legal & General, Digital Mortgage Adviser’s mortgage club.

He added: “I’ve sat down with almost every high street lender – including all the big five. I’ve probably spoken to about 15 of them by now.

“Legal & General have been great in introducing us to the lenders.”

In the next few months the firm will add mortgage alerts to the system, where clients are emailed saying when they can remortgage onto a new product if that allows them to save money.

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