Tech Pitch: Nuvo

Offering mortgage search results alongside genuine tailored advice, this clever digital broker uses an AI chat bot to recommend the best deal for free

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Company name: Nuvo
Founders: Richard Hayes (32), Nick Sherratt (36)
Background: Hayes and Sherratt have over 10 years experience in financial services, having been at the helm of a successful mortgage and insurance brokerage company prior to embarking on the Nuvo journey.
Based in: Macclesfield
Launched: November 2017

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Nuvo is a digital mortgage broker that makes comparing and buying mortgages quick, convenient and fee-free.
  • The first digital broker to use an AI-powered chat bot, Nuvo’s chat bot technology is constantly learning about customers to suggest products tailored to them, and allows customers to ask a question at any time during the process if they are unsure about anything.
  • With a unique combination of financial expertise and intuitive technology, Nuvo compares 30,000 mortgage products, offering real-time product sourcing and recommending the best solution. It provides prices for mortgages and protection products in less than a minute.
  • Nuvo also has an in-house team of financial experts ready to advise and guide customers through their purchase, at no cost to the customer.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

With first time buyers making up 28% of the market and largely millennial, access to information on complex financial products needs to be readily available online and cross platform. This generation expect to be able to transact digitally, in their own time and in the convenience of their own home. They want instant answers and quick results.

With 97% of mortgage sales in 2016 involving advice, there is clearly still a need for guidance when buying complex financial products – so we need to find a way to make this more accessible, convenient and straightforward.

The Nuvo model was developed to fill the gap between traditional financial brokers that, in general, don’t offer a digital service and price comparison websites, which don’t offer advice on the best product to buy. Nuvo shows the customer all the mortgage deals that they are eligible for, while making a recommendation on the best option.

There’s increasing scrutiny of the fee structure in the broker market. The spotlight shines on the fact that mortgage brokers charge clients a fee for their service, but also receive commission from the lenders. By building a digital mortgage adviser, Nuvo is unlocking an entirely new business model that allows this service to be provided free of charge to the customer.

In 2016, 80% of mortgages were secured through a traditional broker, with broker fees averaging £500. People want advice but they are paying unnecessary fees for it. Nuvo can give customers access to the same amount of deals, and give the same expert advice which is backed by over 150 years of mortgage experience within the team – all for free.

Constantly innovating, Nuvo is working to integrate open banking and advanced APIs when they are available to offer the fastest, most reliable mortgage product search. With a chatbot that is powered by artificial intelligence, customers can visit any time of the day to find a mortgage product that suits them.

Through launching in Facebook Messenger, the chatbot has developed its Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to carry out conversations with customers and answer any questions about the mortgage application process.

The next phase of the beta roll out in February 2018 will see the launch of the full mortgage journey. Customers will be able to complete the entire mortgage application fact find online in less than 30 minutes and get their mortgage in principle at the end.

The full journey will launch within Nuvo’s own User Interface (UI). Later releases (end of Q1 2018) will see an even more streamlined journey – use of APIs will mean large sections of the fact find can be pre-populated, allowing customers to get their mortgage, in principle, in a matter of minutes.

Is Nuvo funded?

So far, Nuvo has raised £1m in an initial seed round from an established insurance and investment company. We are currently raising additional capital by way of equity investment. Richard and Nick maintain the majority share.

What were you doing before you started Nuvo?

Richard Hayes is co-founder and CEO of Nuvo and a self-confessed technology geek. His years of experience in financial services and his passion for technology have allowed him to gain a strong understanding of what customers expect from a 21st-century financial advice company.

Nick Sherratt is an accomplished and driven MD with over a decade of experience in financial services. He makes things happen by pushing ideas into action as a strategic thinker with strong focus on operational leadership.

Together they have over 10 years experience in financial services. Through this, they recognised a need to invest in technology and develop a new business model to better serve the mortgage market, putting more focus on the overall customer experience.

This led them to launch a proof of concept in January 2017 to better understand how people engage with a chat UI.

Encouraged by the incredible conversations the proof of concept provoked, along with extensive consumer research, Nick and Rich were set on the path to what is now Nuvo.

What’s the best thing about being based in Macclesfield?

Being based in Macclesfield means Nuvo is only 20 minutes away from Manchester, which gives the company a great resource pool to recruit from as the business grows.

Last year, Manchester made it into the top 20 European Digital City Index for starting and scaling digital tech businesses, with the city becoming a hub for tech start-ups and like-minded talent.

MediaCityUK is also home to the BBC and ITV, which draws yet more amazing talent to the North-West. With plans for the Northern Powerhouse set to further transform the region with the government pledging to invest £30m to fund tech start-ups, it’s a great place to be located.

We’re also just over one hour and 30 minutes to London, on the line straight into Euston, giving us quick and easy access to the capital.

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