Bluestone’s Next-Gen platform revamp

by Antony Field06 Sep 2021

Bluestone Home Loans has revolutionised its approach to loan processing, launching a new digital lending platform in partnership with NextGen.Net.

Bluestone has undergone a complete overhaul of its core lending platform, collaborating with NextGen.Net to launch a host of new digital capabilities for brokers and offer an even faster ‘time to yes’.

Describing the “evolutionary” transformation from the company’s legacy system to a cloud-hosted digital lending platform, Bluestone chief technology officer Jason Barry says: “We completely reimagined our core lending capability all the way from application submission to underwriting through to settlement and beyond.

“We aimed to take advantage of modern, sophisticated engineering and product development capabilities,” he says.

“We brought together world-class partners and the best engineering, products and platforms in the market with the aim to create the most transparent broker-led home loan experience possible.”

Bluestone’s success is underscored by its distinctive approach to product, speed, service and flexibility, which CEO Campbell Smyth says adds up to Bluestone “offering consistently some of the quickest turnaround times to unconditional approval in the market”. A claim Smyth stresses is both quantifiable and completely transparent.

“In terms of service, the Bluestone approach is about the way we relate to customers and brokers,” Smyth says.

“We view our relationship with brokers as a genuine partnership, so we’ve invested a lot of time into educating our sales team on how our products work and how our policies are implemented. We also ensure that we are resource efficient so our sales team can be responsive.

“From a credit perspective, we’re proactive and solution-based. Our aim is to find out how to do a deal versus how not to do a deal. We afford brokers the ability to talk directly with credit assessors to find a way to make a deal work.”

 The decision to build a market-leading platform led to Bluestone integrating NextGen.Net’s ApplyOnline Application Centre into its new core banking system, which has radically enhanced and streamlined the loan submission experience.

Implementing a full suite of ApplyOnline solutions, including broker-ordered valuations, the ‘Supporting Documents’ service, the Compliance tab and the Document Verification Service, Bluestone has created a totally digitised, seamless lending experience that empowers the broker to take control at the point of sale and demonstrates its strong commitment to the broker channel.

ApplyOnline and NextGen are a natural fit for us in that they offer a compelling broker and underwriting experience and with an Application Centre that now allows us to integrate seamlessly with our evolving lending capabilities,” says Barry.

“Significantly, we can now give brokers visibility of their application as it travels through the process rather than them having to reactively contact us to find out what is happening,” says Bluestone’s group head of lending and credit risk, Colin Jepson.

Given the continually evolving needs and expectations of brokers and borrowers, Jepson is sure Bluestone’s new digital platform will deliver better service levels and an enhanced broker experience.

“As brokers and customers become more discerning, they become more aware of turnaround times and how lending decisions are made,” Jepson says.

“What we find in the market is that turnaround times and inconsistent assessments really drag down a broker and customer experience. So, what we’re focusing on is delivering decisions as fast as possible and providing technology that produces positive experiences.”

NextGen.Net customer account manager Steven Hudson adds: “Bluestone’s determination to get this right meant they had to pivot quite dramatically through the implementation. They have been very decisive in making sure that they aim to deliver the best experience for brokers and get the ‘time to yes’ as quick as possible while ensuring that their settlements are first-class.”

And Bluestone’s rebuild is not over yet; the recent upgrades are all part of a long-term plan, with more enhancements already slated for the upcoming future.

“We have a roadmap for future changes that we’re committed to bring to market,” says Jepson.

“For example, electronic signatures that will enable us to work remotely with a client. We’re also exploring how we can reduce the requirements on documents to be provided by customers.

“We’re looking for options for us to change that, and NextGen can support that by integrating comprehensive credit reporting via their assessment tool, which will really help us to fast-track applications,” he says.

“There are a thousand things that will come down the line and plenty we have on the roadmap, and NextGen has given us a platform that we can build on, compared to our legacy platform that couldn’t keep up with the market’s expectations.”

Barry points to Bluestone’s revitalised technology stack, saying it now drives innovation.

“We’ve done an enormous amount of really great things over the last seven or eight months, and while we’re starting to see a flow of deals coming through and we’re starting to see how our teams are working with the new platforms, we’re only at the beginning,” says Barry.
“The mindset we have is about continually improving. We've assembled a team of industry-leading partners, have a hyper-engaged business, and we are now in a position to react to new opportunities and market demands.”

NextGen.Net’s Hudson says, “From a partnership perspective we’ve both been very agile. They appreciate the enhanced analytics that we provide, and we’ve been able to streamline the process both for brokers and their assessment team.”

Stepping back, Smyth takes a wide-lens view of the industry and remarks that it’s on “the precipice of change”.
“The needs and expectations of brokers and customers are changing fast, and there’s a continual flow of challenges in the industry,” he says.

“Without technology you quickly fall behind. Ultimately, there will be businesses that don’t evolve and become extinct. On the flipside there will be opportunities for businesses that deliver on their tech investments effectively and, by doing so, significantly increase their relevant participation in the market. We’re not going to leave any of that to chance.

“Bluestone is in a nicely balanced position. We already have a materially significant existing business, which is profitable and gives us the means to fund our expansion, growth and investment.

“We’re not trying to go from nothing to something. But in the same sense we need to make sure that we stay at the forefront of the industry. The way we balance that is by taking the time to understand primarily what our customers and brokers want and need, and work with partners such as NextGen who understand where we’re at and can deliver first-class products that make the loan application experience as positive as possible.”