BLOG: The importance of using technology to enhance service in later life lending

Service is paramount in the current landscape in the later life lending sector. This isn’t only something brought front and centre by the FCA’s Consumer Duty but also by appreciating the circumstances of many consumers’ exploring it – whether for themselves or their families – even amid a challenging year that has seen seismic shifts in interest rates.

In recent years, the sector has focused on product development and creating a suite of solutions that appeal to various circumstances, needs and priorities. This, in turn, has helped diversify the profile of those turning to equity release as a later life financial planning tool, which, by extension, has enhanced the market’s resilience in the face of a series of socioeconomic challenges. But that innovation can also be used to drive improvements in service standards and user experiences, helping to ensure that when it is the right solution for people, later life lending can support their needs and deliver excellent results.

As a specialist equity release lender, we’ve long understood the importance of enhancing the user journey for the benefit of both the adviser and the end customer. We have also sought to develop our offering to ensure the best outcomes during the application process consistently occur. As a result, we’ve listened to our adviser network and created a new and improved online application form. Beginning with speaking to a panel of advisers to establish needs, we’ve used our expertise to deliver a user experience designed by equity release specialists for equity release professionals.

Developing an amended, dynamic question set is one of the most significant additions to our new online application. This not only aims to capture more information upfront (minimising the usual email ‘ping pong’ when further information might be required, in turn reducing referrals and the time to offer) but also presents advisers with a user journey that adapts to the case specifics and only shows relevant questions.

The intersection between technology and outstanding service remains at the forefront of delivering a positive experience for both advisers and consumers. Our new online application adeptly occupies that space from the perspective of streamlining the adviser journey via an intuitive platform that adapts to case specifics and has been designed to capture greater amounts of crucial details, increasing the likelihood of a case progressing smoothly.

With equity release increasingly being seen as a mainstream financial planning tool among those in later life, many will undoubtedly be expecting the same innovation-driven (and innovation-enhanced) service they’ve become used to receiving through their high street banking, residential mortgage lenders, or insurance providers. This could be a better application process pre-completion, or post-completion solutions that empower them and foster self-management of accounts.

This understanding of the needs of our customer base helped shape our customer-facing platform, MyPure, which allows our customers to self-manage several key aspects of their lifetime mortgage, including a streamlined cash release application process that provides greater efficiency compared to postal forms. Additionally, they can complete and submit their annual Certificate of Continued Occupancy, download their annual statements, and make ad hoc one-off repayments (or set up recurring ones). We’re pleased to see it resonating among our current customers, with around 3,500 registered users and regular platform use to perform key account management functions, including making over 500 cash release applications.

The above are just two examples of what we’re doing as a lifetime mortgage lender and how technology and innovation can supplement traditional service pillars for advisers and consumers to help deliver better results. The importance of technology-enhanced service can’t be overstated, especially when providing a holistic end-to-end user journey that covers both pre and post-completion stages of the lifetime mortgage consumer journey.

As the changeability of the market has shown, it’s impossible to truly predict what the next chapter in the later life lending sector will be, but one thing is certain: as we’re dealing with the most savvy generation yet who’ve come to expect it to aid (but not replace) traditional service channels, technology will continue to play a vital role in augmenting their experiences. As a lender who’s long prioritised this, it’s pleasing to see where the sector has come in a relatively short time in this area, and we look forward to continuing to be a leading innovator in the future.

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