Vida rejoins market with AI chatbot and simplified product structure
Specialist lender Vida has made a full return to the intermediary mortgage market, following a successful £350m securitisation deal in July.
The relaunch sees the lender offering a full suite of mortgage products across both residential and buy-to-let (BTL) ranges.
Following a change of leadership at the start of the year, Vida has refocused its core proposition.
Vida’s return to the market sees the launch of an AI-driven chatbot called MILO (My Intelligent Lending Operative).
This is a digital assistant aimed at helping intermediaries find information about Vida’s products and criteria.
MILO has also been designed to get ‘smarter’ over time, learning from every interaction what broker partners are interested in, and which queries come up most frequently.
The relaunch also introduces a redesigned website, which improves functionality for brokers by providing them with an intuitive interface and no-scroll access to all products and criteria.
Vida also plans to enhance its service proposition by reducing time to offer and using digital data to minimise the need for advisers to rekey information.
The re-launch also incorporated a simplified product structure, including: a standard residential range up to 85% loan-to-value (LTV) (2 and 5-year fixed rates); standard BTL up to 85% LTV; house of multiple occupancy (HMO) or multi-unit block (MUB) buy-to-let range up to 85% LTV; expat BTL up to 75% LTV; fee saver equivalent for each resi product, providing borrowers with the choice of a free standard valuation and a £0 product fee.
The lender has also introduced supportive criteria for customers impacted by furlough, payment holidays or bounce-back loans.
Vida has also produced a COVID-19 Lending Guide to spell out exactly what will be required in support of certain cases.
Vida has maintained a full range of lending criteria so that it can help as many customers as before the crisis, with an ongoing focus on supporting both the employed and self-employed, plus landlords as they all seek to navigate this post-COVID world.
Louisa Sedgwick (pictured), managing director – mortgages at Vida, said: “Our mission at Vida has always been to support Britain’s underserved borrowers and we’re delighted to announce our return to the mortgage market.
“But today is more than just a relaunch – it is a fresh start for Vida.
“Over the past few months, we have been planning and developing a new proposition that meets the wider needs of more borrowers in today’s market, and we are returning to new business with a renewed ambition to change mortgages for good.
“For us, ‘changing mortgages for good’, is more than just a concept, it’s at the heart of Vida’s strategic objectives.
“The specialist lending market is set to grow as more customers will no longer fit high street lending criteria, whether that be due to insecurity of income, furlough, payment holidays, sickness, or other credit issues.
“We want to help as many of these borrowers as possible, and our innovative products, technology and new approach to lending will allow us to achieve that.”
Sedgwick added: “We remain 100% committed to the intermediary market, and our ongoing investment in technology is specifically designed to improve the mortgage journey for intermediaries and their clients.
“We also plan to develop new, innovative products that work for the challenges posed by the complexity of life today, including the launch of an end-to-end mortgage platform built around mortgage advisers.”
She continued: “The pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone. For the growing number of borrowers who no longer meet the strict criteria of high-street lenders, their financial futures may feel even more uncertain.
“Our new products and renewed focus on this group of people will enable more of Britain’s borrowers to find a safe place to call home.”
Martin Reynolds, chief executive of SimplyBiz Mortgages, said: “It has been well documented the challenges that the specialist market has faced during the last few months.
“I have been very impressed with the way that Vida have been very transparent about their plans and how they were working through this period.
“It is therefore really positive to see them re-launch their new product range with the wide-ranging criteria, support and product pricing that we have come to expect from them.
“The market and our members will welcome the opportunity to re-engage with them.”