The CEO of free online mortgage broker Habito says he created the business off the back of nearly losing his first home.
Daniel Hegarty was inspired to launch Habito in 2015 after accusing his mortgage broker of repeatedly sending his application with errors in, causing him to almost miss out on his dream buy.
Habito is an online mortgage broker servicing the UK, which created the world’s first robo-adviser for regulated mortgage advice, meaning consumers could find and apply for a mortgage entirely through the internet.
Now with 160 employees in London’s Whitechapel, they plan to continue to grow as it has tripled in size each year and wants to improve their customer experience further to ‘remove the pain of getting a mortgage’.
Recalling his own mortgage nightmare he said: “At the time it was this incredibly stressful experience, I felt pretty dis-empowered and confused by the process of getting a mortgage and was struck that there had to be a better way to do it.
“The mortgage industry as a whole has very little interest in the customers – as you look across the landscape of mortgage products and hear all of the ridiculous jargon, you realise quite quickly that the customers are not at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“Building the company with the customer at the very core of everything we think about and do – that’s part of our DNA.”
Habito aims to demystify mortgages and created advertising unlike other financial marketing called ‘Hell or Habito’, showing animated characters being relieved by the help of Habito from the ‘hell’ of mortgages.
When asked about their inspiration, Hegarty said: “The honest truth is we find financial services marketing incredibly boring.
“[Other companies] are desperately trying to earn trust and will show you the happy family sitting at the kitchen table paying their bills, I understand where it comes from but we felt like the reality of getting a mortgage is a much more intense and emotional experience, and none of that advertising reflects that.
“Instead of telling everyone why they should trust us, we tried to empathise more directly with them and understood their experience of getting a mortgage rather than what we wanted to project about ourselves.”
He said the core of the company is to help people get mortgages as it is ‘one of the most stressful and painful things you’re going to do in your life’.
“The Brits are obsessed with owning property, it’s very fundamental to how we think about the world and how we’re going to secure our finances,” explained Hegarty.
“Given that everyone wants to buy houses and they’ll need a mortgage to do it, there hasn’t really been that much pressure on the banks or the mortgage lenders to innovate because if you’ve got a line of customers at the door, then why do something different to something that already works?”