Five minutes with… TLA Strategy Director of Property and Financial Services Paul Earnden Next up in our Q&A series we have Paul Earnden, who joined team TLA four months ago as Strategy Director of Property and Financial Services. Following on from his recent move at Prodo, a digital transformation and growth agency based in Chester, we talk to Paul about his role here at TLA below. What have been your first impressions of TLA and its culture? I was pleasantly surprised with the approach to technology and data. Our platform is an incredible piece of technology which is going to help us achieve great things in connecting in-market consumers to brands. Like any tech-based organisation, things have to be fast paced. But this is fast paced with real purpose, structure and driven by data. So much progress is made on a daily basis. Finally, I’ve been really impressed with the entire approach to onboarding, our culture code and the effort made to ensure that everybody in the business lives and breathes “The TLA Way” and genuinely, I feel they all do! You took part in our London to Brighton cycle in aid of NABS. What was the experience like? The cycle was great…but very difficult! It was a great opportunity to meet so many companies, agencies and tech providers in a completely different environment: no big offices, no shirts and ties – just helmets and lycra..! I learnt a lot about NABS, our charity of choice, and now look forward to being part of further fundraising activity for them. What is your role and the role of your department at TLA? The role of my department is to grow TLA’s Property and Financial Services vertical into a major arm of our business. I’m working directly with mortgage brokers, lenders, estate agents and other financial services organisations to deliver incremental revenue with our technology. The role is a real mix of product development, customer acquisition and operations, it’s great fun! What can you tell us about Movewell? Movewell is a new consumer website we’ve developed that is designed to guide homeowners, or soon-to-be homeowners, through the tricky process of buying a home, moving home, remortgaging or selling their home. In its current form, it’s contains useful content, guides, checklists and calculators which assist consumers through the process. These consumers can then opt to utilise our broker matching service and, based on their circumstances, we will place them with a broker who will hold their hand through the application process. How has the property industry evolved over the last 12 months? The last 12 months have been interesting. I’ve been involved in the housing and property space for around six years now and, in that time, most change has been driven by technology and digital transformation. Such steep advances in technology have allowed for some fantastic products and services to be created, but at the same time some businesses have gone all-in on this technology before it’s really matured. There’s a big wish in organisations to be using things like blockchain, machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and more – but sometimes without purpose or a real use-case. Due to the access to technology, we’re seeing proptech startups get large amounts of VC backing and one major development has been a sharp increase in the amount of online estate agents, which has been an incredibly turbulent sector with major ups and downs over the last 12 months. I fundamentally believe that online estate agents have a place in the market, but it will take a while to get consumer buy-in and for people to drop their guards around selling a property online. The younger demographics will likely opt for this type of service, but they’re not necessarily the ones buying or selling houses right now. What do you anticipate the next 12 months will look like for the industry? I guess the biggest changes in the industry are probably going to be as a result of what happens within the political environment, and I don’t think anybody really knows what’s going to happen or how this could change the industry. Staying with the theme of digital transformation and technology, I think we’re going to see further utilisation of technology in order to build some great products. I’m a big fan of fintech, and the use of technology within the financial services industry. The mortgage industry has seen some great products from the likes of Mojo, Habito and Trussle, offering an almost end-to-end digital experience, allowing people to apply for a mortgage from their phone. In the last year, I feel we’ve seen the beginning of the traditional, large organisations who’ve been challenged by the so-called challenger brands react. This will likely result in banks, lenders, brokers, and estate agents etc. building innovative tech products to challenge the challengers. The digital experience from some more traditional banks has started to slowly rival the likes of Monzo, Starting and Revolut and I think we’ll see a similar trend in estate agency and mortgaging. Finally, I’d like to think that the creation and adoption of open banking will enable mortgage lenders and brokers to shorten the application to completion timeframe and, as a whole, increase the customer experience within the sector. What role can Movewell play in helping the industry? Movewell exists to give unbiased guidance to those in the middle of quite a complex buyer journey. These consumers are looking for the best product for their needs, and we can match those needs to a brand (such as a broker, lender, or estate agent) who are looking to deliver further, incremental revenue. If you’ve got a question for the TLA team or want to know more about what makes us tick, why not get in touch?