Online mortgage platform uno has launched its first partnership with external brokers, referring uno customers to nMB brokers in a move to provide more choice to consumers and provide “a better customer experience”.
The digital mortgage platform, which offers customers a range of tools and artificial intelligence offerings to find and manage their home loan, was first set up in 2016 by financial services veteran Vincent Turner to help customers “find, and stay on, the best value home loan for the whole life of the loan”.
The platform allows users to look at different loans suited for their needs, which are then supported by a team of advisers.
However, the founder and CIO of uno, Vincent Turner, has now revealed that the platform is trialing a model that sees customers who sign up to uno being connected and referred to nMB brokers.
According to Mr Turner, the move comes after a period the platform experienced a surge in clients following the signing of large retail partnerships this year (with Velocity and Priceline), which caused “a capacity issue” when it came to servicing the clients directly through uno advisers.
Over the last 12 months, more than 30,000 subscribers with over $12 billion in loans have signed up to uno, he said, but helping all these customers at the time and place of their choosing had been challenging to scale.
Speaking to The Adviser, Mr Turner said: “Uno has been an online broker, and about two years ago we started to reposition the company to this idea of online mortgage management. We had to work out to be different, simply being an online broker wasn’t enough. Fast forward to 2020, for example, everyone is an online broker, so I’m glad we pivoted the customer proposition to not only help customers get a great loan but also stay on a great deal.”
The platform’s loanScore service currently enables a borrower to ascertain whether they are on a competitive mortgage rate for the repayment type and purpose of that particular loan, and provides them with an idea of how much they could save over the life of the loan if they were to move to a more competitive product.
According to Mr Turner, while uno offers users the ability to move loans digitally, the vast majority of people using its loanScore tool either prefer to receive individualised credit advice before transacting through an uno adviser or choose not to proceed further.
Given the capacity issue and recognising that borrowers often want to talk to a local broker, Mr Turner said uno approached nMB (its aggregator) to run a pilot with nMB brokers.
As such, it is hoped by offering customers a broker’s service after they have checked their loanScore, they will be more likely to take action to move to a loan that could cost them less money.
‘Greater choice for customers and a reliable source of new leads for brokers’
“When the customer gets to the point where they want to transact, they will have the option of booking in an appointment with a broker on a particular time and date,” Mr Turner explained.
The broker and customer then have an appointment booked in their diary in real time and reminders ensure the call takes place. Brokers then take the customer through their normal refinance application process.
“So, while they will have the active management through uno, at the point of transaction, they will be handed to this recommended broker and we will have line of sight of that transaction all the way through to settlement. As the customer monitors their loan through loanScore, they will also be able to see their brokers details and have a relationship with the broker ongoing,” he added, noting that any future loan needs will also be directed back to the broker.
As such, he said he hoped the new partnership would help “provide higher capacity for uno, a better customer experience and generate additional revenue for the broker”.
He added: “And, for brokers, it means that they are getting from uno a source of customers, a warm, pre-qualified lead. In some instances, the information that customers are inputting into loanScore might even show that they could be approved for a loan immediately… so hopefully, that saves the broker time from having to make 100 phone calls before settling a loan.
“Instead, it puts the action in the customer’s hands, where they are actively booking in an appointment with this particular broker to get a better deal.”
Mr Turner told The Adviser that he hopes the partnership will “be able to give nMB brokers enough clients that it is meaningful, but not so many that they can’t service the clients”.
“If we can put three-five appointments into a broker’s diary a week, then I think we will be doing a good job,” he said.
Mr Turner concluded: “We’ve always maintained that customers are going to want to deal with brokers. The big shift for us here is that we believe ultimately that the market will end up being a marketplace where brokers, customers and lenders will operate in the one marketplace. And this is the first step of that journey, for uno, to go in that direction.
“By combining uno’s proposition, technology and reach, we can collaborate with broking networks to create scale, greater choice for customers and a reliable source of new leads and revenue for these brokers. It’s a three-way win,” he said.
Welcoming the new partnership, nMB managing director Gerald Foley commented: “As a long time partner to uno, we are excited to be working with the team, which gives our brokers another way to scale their business and to be part of the award-winning proposition that uno has created.
“Being able to now tap into uno’s lead generation activities and support our brokers with qualified leads at the same time is a true ‘win-win-win’ for all parties,” he said.
Speaking to The Adviser, Mr Foley added: “nMB’s brokers can expect qualified leads from a tried-and-tested lead generation model uno has developed.
“Qualified leads are always valuable to a broker to complement their own lead generation activities.
“Uno has a proven track record in quality lead generation, so we’re expecting really good conversion rates.
“Uno’s referral arrangement with nMB will satisfy customers looking to engage with a locally based mortgage broker.”
[Related: Creating strong referral partnerships]
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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