JLM Mortgages Services to expand virtual adviser and launch an app

Michael Lloyd

February 14, 2018

JLM Mortgages Services Network is looking to add protection to its online virtual adviser and launch an app to track mortgages.

In January JLM launched a so-called ‘virtual adviser’, giving customers seeking residential or buy-to-let mortgage advice the opportunity to start their journey online.

Users can search for products without registering details or go through some initial steps online and after the customer can choose to stay online with the virtual adviser or talk to an adviser directly.

Sebastian Murphy, head of mortgage finance at JLM Mortgages Services, said: “The virtual adviser is about getting information, making the client feel comfortable about you and the proposition and letting them make a choice of what product to use.”

He said by the end of the year, the virtual adviser would have expanded onto advising on protection as well.

Murphy added: “The exciting part is moving onto protection products as well. Protection hasn’t been sold as much since technology has improved because we have been seeing customers face-to-face less.

“The way we buy has changed, for example, people used to book holidays at travel agents and now they do this online.

“People used to book days off work to talk to estate agents and brokers but now start their research online.”

He said that ‘virtual advisers’ at the moment can only go so far because to progress further, the lenders would have to open their backdoors and bypass their securities.

Murphy said: “But there will be a number of third party companies that will bridge that gap.

“The next stage will be an end-to-end process but still with an adviser involved, without filling out form after form and consumers want speed and efficiency. And with a human involved, it stops the consumer keying in errors.

“Technology is there to help but buying a house is still the biggest decision in someone’s life so there will always be the need for face-to-face help. People want someone to reassure them.”

JLM is also working on creating an app for the end of the year that informs customers about its mortgage process.

Every month it will inform customers what a customer’s mortgage balance will be and talk about new schemes before their current one finishes.

It will also link into the virtual advisers, asking if the customer is thinking of moving and how much they’d like to borrow and showing what it would cost to move with their lender or a new lender.

Murphy said: “It will give people the tools to make decisions without having to meet people for a few hours. It’s enabling clients to think about the mortgage process.”

“It’s creating a much closer relationship with the client and is still validated by a human being too.”

Murphy also predicted the mortgages industry to become more like the food and beverage industry where social media plays a huge role, with people promoting and reviewing companies online.

He said: “That’s how we’re going to judge consumer products from now on and rightly so. It should be transparent; I had a good or bad experience.

“I think it will take three or four years and by that point the firms that haven’t adopted these modern methods, will be left behind. You should live and die by offering a good service.

“Hopefully that’s going to be the making of our industry. I had a friend who was a relatively famous food critic and after doing it for 10 years, quit, saying with social media, it wasn’t needed anymore.”

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