The future is not pre-determined, nor is it predictable. If it were, there would be no point in taking any action today, because actions taken today would have no effect on events in the future.
Given that we can’t predict the future, should we really spend any time thinking about it?
I would say ‘yes’, definitely, because while all the things we know to be true happened in the past, it is also true that the decisions we make now will come to fruition in the future. It is a complex world that we live in today; the opportunity for all of us is to find ways of making sense of it and attempting to predict how emerging trends will influence our business models and society, in the future.
Many technologies that were considered revolutionary in their time are now obsolete. Consider Kodak. Remember the instant camera and the film cartridges that allowed for 25 or 30 shots?
Thirty years ago, Kodak was a thriving business, yet if we fast forward to the present, digital technology has taken the place of film cartridges, and a once successful business has folded and been written into history.
No one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, yet many successful entrepreneurs do have a unique ability to see the trends that others miss and to maximise these emerging opportunities as they start to gain mainstream acceptance. This was certainly the case with mortgage broking in the early nineties.
Unlike photographic technology however, mortgage broking hasn’t really changed all that much in the past 20 years. Our essential business model of providing great customer service, helping clients assess the myriad product choices on the market and simplifying the loan process, still stands strong and continues to be successful. We have all seen technology move ahead in leaps and bounds in recent years, yet the underlying proposition that a mortgage broker offers their customer has not really changed.
I believe that the National Broadband Network could well be that game changer in terms of how people, in particular brokers and their customers, interact. Picture a typical family, a husband and wife with two children, for example. Instead of having a bank manager or mortgage broker visit them in person, they visit the mortgage broker’s website, click the button to speak to a broker and then conduct the conversation via video link in their living room. They receive personalised support and guidance from a real person in the comfort of their own home.
Of course, mortgage broking would not be the first to use this technology. The medical profession already uses video conferencing for routine consultations, but imagine what the productivity gains could be as the use of video meetings becomes more and more widespread. The need for both service providers and their customers to travel will decrease, and service providers will be able to focus on larger groups of potential customers, unrestrained by geographical location. Broking groups could conduct multiple loan interviews using video meetings from anywhere in Australia or the world.
For mortgage brokers, imagine helping customers who have already gone to your website, completed a loan application and used your tools to help identify the type of loan that they need. Your role now becomes one of adviser, providing support and guidance. And customers can conduct their business at a time that suits them, be it 11pm at night or 6am in the morning.
While we still have some issues to work through in terms of security and identification of customers, these matters are surely not insurmountable, given that one online bank is already allowing customers to settle loans without any face to face meetings.
There is no doubt that the paradigm we have become so familiar with in the mortgage broking business has served us well, but it is definitely due for an overhaul. The future that is envisaged is really only one of the many possibilities that could reshape the way we do things.
The future I talk about is plausible but the question we must ask ourselves now is, how will the emerging trends today impact on us in the next 5 to 10 years?
Simon Dehne is the CEO of LoanKit Aggregation Services and Software company