Financial technology company Effi (short for “efficiency”) – an “AI-powered digital concierge” – has now begun beta testing with selected brokers.
Founded and headed up by former HashChing CEO Mandeep Sodhi, Effi is a software-as-a-service solution that aims to disrupt the traditional client relationship management (CRM) space by providing lead management, customer engagement and automation to the mortgage broking process – while also enabling brokers to generate revenue through the platform’s (yet-to-be released) referral offering.
Comprising a desktop and mobile app that brokers can white label to their own branding, the platform aims to innovate the mortgage experience for brokers and their customers alike.
Mr Sodhi said Effi aims to “cut brokers’ administration and processing times in half so they can double their settlements with ease”.
Broker tech in ‘urgent need of change’
The fintech is the brainchild of Mr Sodhi and Sydney-based technology innovation company iTelaSoft CEO Indaka Raigama, which formed after a chance conversation about Mr Raigama’s experience of getting a loan.
“I was talking to [Indaka] when he was getting his mortgage with a bank and he wasn’t happy about not getting any responses from the bank and constantly being asked for different documents,” the Effi CEO told Mortgage Business.
“I suggested he used a mortgage broker, which he did, and he was blown away by the customer service from them. But he said to me: ‘This industry is so underserved and needs massive innovation because everything is done on email.’
“As a tech co-founder, he didn’t like sending documents on email for security reasons, so we started talking about how we could innovate in this space,” Mr Sodhi explained.
“After speaking to many mortgage brokers about their pain points, we realised that we could reinvent and revolutionise this industry with a new solution.”
Mr Raigama added that brokers had been “unfairly disadvantaged with a lack of access to the latest advancements in technology” and was in “urgent need of change”.
Noting the high number of interactions in the loan process as well as an increasing administration and compliance burden, Mr Raigama said: “Brokers need smart technology to keep up with these demands and spend more time interacting with their customers.
“Our ambition is to both empower and enable the mortgage broker community with ground-breaking, intelligent and smart technology to provide a personalised service to their customers, all while increasing productivity and saving time. With our experience in building AI-powered solutions, we can immensely contribute to the evolution of Effi,” Mr Raigama said.
While the Effi CEO said the new fintech “doesn’t want to step on aggregators’ toes” with its offering (and would look to partner with aggregators in future), he added that more needed to be done to improve the customer and broker experience in the loan process, including data collection.
“Aggregators are doing a great job in terms of lodgement, but the problem starts when the customers do not get engaged, and they feel that they’re not getting a good digital experience.
“That’s where we want to capture that market share, and give a really good experience to brokers and allow them to pass that on to their customers as well, with a portal that is branded with their own personal branding.”
He continued: “Customers are now used to the experience of using apps and expect everything to work in a similar manner. So, while with Uber they can track where their car is, when it comes to the home loan, they find it hard.”
Mr Sodhi added that the portal also helps provide traceability and accountability to brokers, and helps reduce administrative time. As an example, he outlined that the platform uses artificial intelligence to learn what the broker typically sends to clients and then predict and create suggested emails and texts at various points of the loan process.
“Once you send text messages or emails to the client through the platform, the system learns that every time you get a new lead, you respond in a certain way and it will suggest copy to send to that customer that it has already prepared,” he explained.
He continued: “So there a lot of features – it reminds brokers about customer check-ins and when to call them, it can reduce admin by predicting messages and automating that process, brokers can also see when a message has been read by a client and keep track of them, and there is an unlimited bank statement and document collection service, all packaged into the fixed monthly fee of $120 a month.”
The platform also keeps track of customer interactions and conversations, which can be downloaded into an audit file – which the former HashChing CEO outlined would be of increasing importance given the incoming best interests duty.
“The new best interests duty talks about how you have to work in the favour of the customer and make sure you’re meeting their objectives,” he told Mortgage Business.
“I feel that all brokers are already doing that but the problem is: How do you prove it to the regulators, or even aggregators? Our platform stores all the interactions and client reviews and feedback that you can download into an audit report for your aggregator or the regulator, if needed.”
It is expected that Effi will officially launch to the broader market by the end of this calendar year.
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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.