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Ignoring advice: A car crash waiting to happen

James Tucker

February 25, 2020

James Tucker (pictured) is chief executive of Twenty7Tec

Who would have thought that reading through the Sunday papers, and in particular a review about the Skoda Kamiq, would have given me inspiration for an article on the FCA’s Mortgage Market Review? A tenuous link, I know, but true inspiration I assure you. Bear with me.

Flicking through The Sunday Times, Jeremy Clarkson’s latest diatribe against Smart Motorways caught my attention. His opinions on the highly contentious motorways are as damning as you would expect, describing them as ‘Government intervention that has killed 38 people, making them more deadly than the Yorkshire Ripper’.

It struck me, that here again was an example of where a combination of technology and legislation designed to help us reach our final destination faster, is in fact directly contributing to some of us not getting there at all.

And so, it reminded me of the outcomes of the FCA’s Mortgage Market Review, published last month. As technological innovation in the mortgage, and indeed wider financial services market has accelerated, regulation that previously extolled the virtues of advice, has now been adapted to allow for the consumer to take a more active role in product selection, and indeed self-service where they feel able.

As with the theory of smart motorways, through a combination of technology and regulation, the mortgage industry is now on a path to helping customers get to their final destination faster.

And of course, there are benefits to this. If technology can enable me as a prospective house purchaser to have secured a decision in principle from one, or multiple lenders, before I even view a property, by simply handing over some very basic information about myself to a comparison site, that is by no means a bad thing.

But allowing me to choose from the tens of thousands of mortgage products, from the millions of pieces of criteria that make up these products, which is the right one for me and to select that myself? Well, that seems akin to sending me out onto a Smart Motorway in a beat-up old car. I may well get to my destination, but it is far more likely I will break down on the hard shoulder, and no one will be there to help me.

To steal some of a Jeff Goldblum quote from the movie Jurassic Park, both the regulator and technology businesses in this industry risk becoming so preoccupied with whether or not we could, we didn’t stop to think if we should. Surely it is in the best interests of the customer for investments in technology to be made in support of advice, rather than be designed to replace it entirely.


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