There are multiple fintech lenders and marketplaces in the UK dealing in mortgages and other financial products. What sets Nuvo apart is it’s claim to be the first artificial intelligence (AI)-powered digital broker.
Launched by Nick Sherratt (heads oversees operations and finance) and Richard Hayes (CEO) 18 months ago, Nuvo fills the gap between traditional brokers and established price comparison websites. They had been running their own mortgage brokerage in Macclesfield, Cheshire for a decade, also selling life insurance and income protection. Their experience as a traditional broker helped them understand what was missing in the market. As a result, they’ve made it easier for customers to access the best mortgage offers in less than a minute, once they’ve gained some basic information from the user.
Now Nuvo Works
The focus was on user accessibility and speed of providing quotes. But the platform’s USP is its AI-powered chatbot technology, which helps users chat in real time and suggests the best mortgage products suited to their finances. The platform was established with 1 million GBP in a seed round, and it recently raised 1 million GBP in a second round of funding.
Historically, if a customer wanted advice on mortgages, he would rush toward a broker or any other independent financial advisor and, in turn, the advisor charged a fees for their advice. However, recent research conducted by Nuvo revealed that nearly 40% of Britons rely on their own research once they get a list of prices from comparison websites. But the problem is most comparison sites don’t give the full picture and can’t answer queries accurately. This passive information overload did not really solve the user problem. Thus, Nuvo was born of the need to marry the traditional mortgage broker experience with the convenient of free comparison websites.
Nuvo has digitalized large parts of the mortgage application process through incorporating real-time sourcing. With an emphasis on transparency, customers can put their queries online with the help of a laptop or other mobile device and get an instant response. Instead of collecting data from the customer through a lengthy form, Nuvo provides a platform that allows the customer to provide details to a chatbot. Customers can also opt to chat with a qualified human financial advisor via the website or by booking a telephonic interview. It means the process is a two-way process, so the customer can ask specific questions at any point if there is something they do not understand.
What Artificial Intelligence Brings to the Table
Artificial intelligence and machine learning add substantial value by bridging the data, information, and context gap so that the virtual assistant and its human counterparts can deliver a seamless customer experience. If the platform lacks data, or the customer provides insufficient data, then it implements sentiment analysis to ascertain intent. Sentiment analysis identifies the customer attitude, emotions, and opinions. If the platform feels like customers are unhappy and/or confused, they can quickly add it to their processing and allow the virtual assistant to interact without sacrificing user experience. There is no need on the part of the customer to wait for a response if the virtual assistant is unable to answer a complex question. Nuvo removes the uncertainty and interjects with a human being.
The first version of the product launched was a Facebook chatbot with some basic functionality that helped people find the best deals on mortgages. Soon, Nuvo will launch the new version integrated on their site with a state-of-the-art user interface, better communication technology, and a next-gen interaction process. Nuvo utilizes its access to endpoints for a better user experience. It also ensures that APIs match the products the platform is offering to users.
The platform launched after the review by UK’s regulator, The Competition and Market Authority (CMA), which recommended that customers use a variety of sites for comparing the best deals. But there are no other companies giving real insight into the market and products.
The UK Mortgage Market Has Not Caught Up With Technology
Most digital brokers are startups and not evolved from traditional brokers. Products and prices are changing constantly. Nuvo allows customer to find the most suitable offer by updating information on a daily basis. Customers can see and compare all the options to make sure they are getting the best deal, eliminating the need for a traditional broker. Also, the founders’ traditional brokers’ practice became a competitive advantage for Nuvo as it enables the company to combine domain expertise and knowledge in their aim to better serve customers.
The UK is one of the largest marketplaces for mortgage deals. Habito and Trussle are other startups aiming for a slice of UK’s lucrative mortgage market. But Nuvo is in for the long haul and believes it can achieve a market share of 5%-10% of the online mortgage market in the next five years.
According to Nuvo founders, they have 10,000 more deals on their platform than Habito at this moment. There is an in-house team of financial experts that assist the customer in solving complicated financial decisions at zero cost. Nuvo does not charge fees to customers like traditional brokers. Instead, they get a commission from the insurer or the mortgage provider.
Founder Richard Hayes said, “Millennials are now willing to transact digitally, so we have an opportunity to resonate with anyone who is willing to engage digitally.”
So far, the mortgage sector has not been able to innovate to meet the demands of customers, but Nuvo, with its AI-powered chatbot, is attempting to simplify the on-boarding process. They are also focused on first-time buyers to build trust and confidence in the mortgage ecosystem.
A major tailwind for digital brokers is the slow but steady death of brick-and-mortar mortgage advisors. In 1985, there were over 120k independent financial advisors in the mortgage space, but now it’s under 20k. Correspondingly, there has been a massive increase in people seeking mortgages. This suggests that the market is consolidating and scale will be an important element in winning the sweepstakes.
How Nuvo is Capturing the Future Digital Mortgage Market
“2018 will see a full mortgage journey on our platform,” Hayes said. Nuvo is incorporating new features to speed up the application process and using APIs to enhance the customer experience at large. “We all know that buying a house is a costly and long process.” Thus, the platform assimilates all the information about property such as value, construction details, and more, from different sources to help the customer get the best mortgage deal and insights about the property itself.
The platform is focused on its journey to help borrowers find the best mortgage and other financial products. It is looking to raise further funding to grow aggressively in this massive market space with its proprietary AI technology.
Written by Heena Dhir.