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Interview: Vince Sammon, Founder & CEO of Ladder and Sammon Mortgages

Date:
06/02/2019
Author:
Livia Thimotheo
Reading Time:
8 minutes

Vince_Sammon

Can you tell me a bit about Ladder?

Ladder is the UK’s first hybrid mortgage broker. We combine traditional expertise with the very best of modern technology. Unlike a traditional mortgage broker, we are not weighed down by slow processes and unnecessary duplication. Nor are we are a faceless online broker, offering only a very basic service. Ladder puts the control completely in the client’s hands as to how they transact. They can either apply online, over the phone or face-to-face or choose a combination of all these routes. As we say, it’s your mortgage your way.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself, your background?

I’ve been a mortgage broker for 20 years. Over the years, I have arranged thousands of mortgages from first-time buyer’s through to commercial developments and everything in between. So, I understand mortgages. At Ladder we also understand that all clients have different needs and should be able to choose which application route works best for them. The hybrid model is the future of mortgage advice and we are excited to be the pioneers of this movement.

How was this change from broker to entrepreneur?

I’ve always been interested in property so a career as a mortgage broker was a perfect fit. I started out working in the city where I learnt my trade and started to build a loyal client bank by focusing on working hard and delivering great advice. Nine years ago in the midst of the credit crunch, I applied to the FCA and set up on my own brokerage, Sammon Mortgages, which has grown and is going strong today. That was my first foray into being an entrepreneur. Although Ladder is a new company in its own right, the foundations have already been laid by my experience running a successful brokerage. For me, the Mortgage and the regulation part is easy, the challenge has been applying technology in the right way. So I decided to recruit some of the UK’s best fintech developers and build the most comprehensive mortgage tool backed up by expert mortgage brokers.

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What was the inspiration for Ladder?

The inspiration to create Ladder came early on. One day I was working surrounded by files and paperwork and I thought to myself that there had to be a better way to process mortgages, a way in which I could reduce the time spent on paperwork and allow more time to be spent on advice. In 2010, technology wasn't advanced enough for this dream to get off the ground. So, that idea was parked until 2016, the year I felt that technology had reached the right stage for us to embark on the Ladder journey.

And which technologies were they?

Ladder incorporates digital ID verification, credit checked recommendations, no obligation life and home quotes along with the most comprehensive mortgage sourcing in the market. However our journey is only just starting. We are much more than a glossy mortgage broker website. We might have come to the market much sooner but we’ve spent the majority of the time from 2016 developing our system step by step. We have developed and built our own bespoke CRM tool which allows us to complete the mortgage application process in under 10 minutes, without duplication. Everything is recorded in live time and it offers our clients the best journey you can get. Clients get emails at each key stage. This provides a complete compliant audit trail and allows us to process a mortgage in 80-85% less time than a traditional broker.

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And how is the experience of using Ladder from the user point of view?

It depends on the user. If a client wants to apply online 24/7, he can do, it takes less than 10 minutes. Some clients will prefer to transact over the phone, that’s fine too. We can also meet client’s face-to-face and guide them through the application process. Alternatively, they can choose a combination of these routes, they decide. Different clients have different needs so we feel it’s vital for them to ultimately decide how they wish to apply what-ever rung of the ladder they are on.

What sits behind all of those routes is the Ladder system. So, whether a client completes a mortgage application themselves online or we use our system to take them through the process over the phone or face to face, they're still going to benefit from the super slick and quick Ladder application system. 

I saw that you partnered with 27Tech and we interviewed them not long ago. How was that partnership? 

Very good. 27Tech were involved from the get go. They have been very supportive and very forward thinking. For us, it was important to have the right sourcing partner as Ladder offers a complete comprehensive range of providers/products - much wider than other online brokers. Along with standard residential and buy to let mortgages, Ladder also offers product switches. This means a client can remain with their existing lender and just switch rate if that is their best option. Ladder also offers limited company buy-to-let mortgages. Maybe it’s too niche for most of the other online guys, but we know the market and we have long-standing relationships with all the lenders in this field so it makes sense for Ladder to have that capability.

So what was the hardest thing that you had to deal with and how did you overcome that?

I am a bit of a perfectionist and the hardest part has been ensuring the process is absolutely right for whatever type of client comes to Ladder. That’s why we have spent a year at the testing stage. It was very important that Ladder firstly provides the absolute best journey for the client. Secondly, we also want to ensure that our Mortgage Experts are spending their time on advice not paperwork & form filing - so the journey behind the scenes had to be right too. 

I have been involved in every part of the build and development so you could say that Ladder has benefited from 20 years of research.

Vince_Sammon

What are the next steps for Ladder? 

We are the first hybrid mortgage broker and I would like to think that the future holds a lot of firsts for us. We are looking to develop the hybrid model further. We have various additional phases planned for this year which will see the application process streamlined even further. We also plan to expand our face-to-face proposition to a national level this year. We are talking to various third parties regarding integrations and partnerships. We feel that this is important as we are not industry disruptors but industry improvers. 

What is the feature that you like the most, that you think is going to bring the most benefit to the user?

Knowing how much they can borrow and how much it will cost in less than 60 seconds and completing a mortgage application in less than 10 minutes. These are things that aren’t readily available in the market. In terms of the actual functionality of Ladder, clients don't need to send us their passport, we verify them digitally. We'll make sure that any recommendation that we make to them is credit checked, to make sure it’s right the first time, every time. But I think the key USP of Ladder is its hybrid nature. We've got a fantastic state-of-the-art online system but firstly it's backed up by real experts. We’re able to guide you over the phone, if you prefer you can apply online or meet an expert in person. It's really having the ability to let the client decide how they transact that separates Ladder from other mortgage brokers. 

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Finally, how would you imagine a day in the broker’s life in ten years?

Firstly, I believe platforms will be sophisticated enough to pull information from various sources to complete an application in a matter of seconds. Paperwork will be no more. Secondly, I believe the market will split into advised and non-advised sales processes, with many banks and online challengers going down the non-advised route. All advised sales will adopt a Ladder style hybrid model in which advice will be the main focus. 

 

If you're interested in enhancing your online offering then speak to the mortgage website experts at hello@dock9.com or call us on 020 7977 9230.


 
Pictures by Judit Toth

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Livia Thimotheo

Livia is a UX Designer at Dock9. She's worked in digital products in the financial sector including applications, websites and chatbots. The Design of Everyday Things was her first design book and it completely changed the way she sees the world.