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Ask a Lender to remove lender-borrower barriers


Scotsman Guide Media has unveiled a new business, Ask a Lender, an online platform that enables borrowers to search and connect directly with lenders.

Ask a Lender was created by Scotsman Guide’s owners and team, but is a separate business that promises to disrupt the lead-generation landscape with a new transparent and free model. ThreebrothersAAL

Ask a Lender has been in the works for nearly three years, ever since Scotsman Guide owners Kevin, Todd and Brian Britton-Simmons (pictured left to right) identified a gap in existing online offerings that connect borrowers with lenders.

Online loan-shopping platforms traditionally require borrowers to share financial data and contact information, which are then sold to a limited pool of lenders.

Ask a Lender is different: It allows lenders offering all types of loans to join and enter their loan programs, for free. Borrowers can access the platform to search and contact lenders without disclosing financial or personal details.

Search in detail

One of Ask a Lender’s goals is to aggregate every loan program in the U.S. into one free, open marketplace. It has gone a long way toward this goal. The current platform presents five major loan markets: home loans; commercial and multifamily loans; business loans; and consumer loans (including personal loans, auto loans and student loans).

Under these markets, lender searches are classified into various, detailed loan purposes. Searches of home loans, for example, include purchase, refinance, home equity, reverse and construction. Each search also goes into even more detailed questions that help match borrowers with lenders that truly can fund their loans.

The extent of detail that is available to lenders to customize their loan programs and to borrowers to search for lenders is unprecedented. Across all loan types, there are more than 6,000 unique data points, which makes it possible to feature thousands of unique and searchable loan programs. With this technology, Ask a Lender promises to deliver quality leads to lenders and better search results to borrowers.

Free and transparent

Lenders have been flocking to Ask a Lender since its launch on Nov. 27. In less than two weeks, more than 1,000 lenders have joined and entered their loan programs for free.

CEO and founder Brian B. Simmons points out that “free” means even more for lenders. “To lenders, ‘free’ means that they do not pay per lead, per click or per call,” Brian says.

This model also creates a better borrower experience. Borrowers can use Ask a Lender to perform an anonymous lender search by customizing their loan requirements and can initiate contact with lenders of their choice, all at no cost.

“The nature of our model is complete transparency. Consumers are in the driver’s seat and have access to all of the loan programs available to them, not only those of a few paid partners,” Brian says.

The traditional model that captures and sells borrower data may be more lucrative, but Brian has had his sights set on a much bigger goal.

“I’d rather make money doing something truly extraordinary that brings real value to borrowers and lenders. We give consumers information and control so they can buy the home of their dreams or start the small business that they’ve always wanted.”

Changing landscape

There is more that sets Ask a Lender apart from other lead-generation models, according to its founders. Ask a Lender, for example, focuses on detailed searches of underwriting criteria rather than rates, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Britton-Simmons says.

“Online rates are often inaccurate. In addition, many loan scenarios require manual underwriting,” says Kevin. The eldest of the Britton-Simmons brothers, Kevin holds a Ph.D. in biology and left an academic career in scuba-based research to join the family business in 2012.

Ask a Lender’s sophisticated loan-shopping approach appeals to today’s savvy consumers. Millennials in particular view loans as commodities rather than relationship-based deals, according to Brian.

“Technology has empowered us with an incredible capacity to compare products,” Brian says. “People are smart, but they only can learn to shop effectively with the right tools and information. Right now, there is a very high barrier to entry for consumers to access loan information.”

How it started

Ask a Lender was a result of personal experience. In 2014, Brian struggled to find a loan for an out-of-state foreclosure property, despite his connections through Scotsman Guide Media, publisher of Scotsman Guide’s award-winning magazines that have graced the desks of more than 70,000 mortgage originators across the U.S. for more than 30 years.

“Here I was, the CEO of a business in the lending industry, relying on lender referrals from a real estate agent. That didn’t seem right,” says Brian, who has been with Scotsman Guide since 2000.

Brian took his lender search to the web, but to no avail. Existing platforms claimed to give borrowers choices, but in practice simply used a capture-and-sell model that limited borrower access to lenders and favored easy-to-fund leads.

“With our connections in the lending industry, I wondered if we could create a database for consumers to search all loan programs in the country. For free,” Brian says.

This market opportunity inspired the genesis of Ask a Lender.

Ask a Lender is likely to follow a path that is similar to how Brian and his brothers grew the family business, Scotsman Guide, into the nation’s leading resource for mortgage originators.

“Scotsman Guide was a very small business when we were growing up,” says founder and Sales Director Todd Britton-Simmons, who has led business development for Scotsman Guide since 2001.

“Our dad always told us to operate with a great deal of honesty and integrity, which is how we built the business to where it is today,” Todd says.

Todd has no doubts that Ask a Lender will reinvent the access and relationship between borrowers and lenders.

“We can change the conversation and landscape around lending if we get consumers talking to the right lenders that can fund the loan they need, without selling their information,” Todd says.

Jasmine Whiting is an online content editor with Ask a Lender and contributor to Scotsman Guide Media. Reach Whiting at jasminew@askalender.com.


This story was revised to update the number of lenders that have joined Ask a Lender as of Dec. 7.



 

Bubble 2 Comments

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  1. Posted: Dec 8, 2017  9:37 ET
    By: Alex Galynsky | Grand Global Ventures Inc
    1. 0


This will hurt the broker community and it is a mistake to make a free site that will give lenders leads and brokers nothing. Brokers are the ones reading your publications, why shoot your self in the foot?


 

  1. Posted: Dec 8, 2017  15:27 ET
    By: Scotsman Guide Media | Corporate
    1. 0


@Alex, Thank you for your feedback. Ask a Lender is a consumer-facing business. It is open to all loan professionals. You can join, build your profile and connect with borrowers. Check out how it works at https://www.askalender.com/for-pros/. If you have any additional questions or need help setting up your profile, please feel free to email us directly at service@askalender.com. Best regards. Rania from Scotsman Guide


 

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