Railing against the rise of the machines

A recent BBC report has revealed how many call centre jobs are threatened by artificial intelligence, as expensive humans are replaced by inexpensive software.

That might sound appealing if you’re frustrated by long call queues when simply trying to update your address with someone. But – as big business strives to cut costs and maintain profits – millions of call centre workers around the world could find themselves unemployed.

Frightening enough as that is, one quote in the report – from tech company IPsoft’s Chetan Dube – should ring alarm bells even for those who don’t answer the phone for a living.

His company is responsible for the widely-used ‘digital assistant’, Amelia. "I want to be able to have her process my mortgage," he says. "Can she do a risk analysis for me, can she process my credit card consolidation request?"

This suggestion – that human judgment can be replaced by automated processes – may make it even more difficult for those clients with ‘unusual’ circumstances to get a mortgage.

Here at Together, we still see plenty of room for humans in the decision-making process. Richard Tugwell, our Group intermediary relations manager, says “Our ethos is ‘Common sense lending’ – and software doesn’t, and won’t ever have, the kind of common sense we value. All it has is algorithms – however intelligent it is. So – just like we always have done – we’ll always have humans making our lending decisions.

“Specialist lenders like us aren’t so boxed in by strict lending criteria, like many of the mainstream lenders are. And that means we can often lend when others can’t.”

Our approach means we can lend on cases involving factors such as imperfect credit, complex income, unusual purchases (like Right to Buy or shared ownership), and non-standard properties – like unusual conversions, and those not made of bricks and mortar.

In fact, it’s an approach so successful that we’re currently bucking the trend for call centre job cuts. At the time of writing, we’re recruiting more than a dozen new underwriters, who are telephone-based and can be accessed throughout the underwriting process.

By having direct access to decision-makers, the process can be much faster, particularly with the more complex cases where several complicated factors are in play. Confusion and delays are minimised, especially with the ongoing improvements to our My Broker Venue portal. Case documents can now be uploaded and reviewed in real time.

“If you find yourself struggling to place a case with all of the usual suspects, think of us,” concludes Richard Tugwell.

To find out more call our team on 0161 451 3154 or register here.