Future of financial services

Artificial intelligence (AI) has hit New Zealand’s mortgage sector with the launch this week of a chat bot aimed at first home buyers.

Squirrel's mortgage bot Alan

Squirrel Mortgages new mortgage bot, which is a New Zealand first, provides answers to the questions would-be buyers have previously tackled via a mortgage calculator.

Roboadvisers are set to be part of the country’s financial services future and Squirrel’s mortgage bot (Alan) is a forerunner of things to come.

But Squirrel CEO John Bolton says the bot isn’t a roboadvisor, rather he is a fun mortgage calculator with personality.

“The difference with Alan is he’s a bit smarter and more interactive than plugging numbers into a one-dimensional calculator.”

For first home buyers, getting a mortgage is often stressful and confusing, with most of those who are getting started just wanting to know how much money they can borrow from the bank, Bolton says.

“Mortgage calculators are heavily searched early in the house buying process. We wanted something fun and with more depth and able to answer a lot of the questions first home buyers have.”

The bot breaks calculations down into questions, before providing users with a comprehensive answer and then moving into the mortgage application process.

Bolton says that Alan is a first foray into AI and, given it is early days yet, may not be 100% right but comprehensive testing and client feedback have been very positive.

“We’re committed to remaining at the forefront of technology and adapting our systems with the end user in mind.”

Custom built from scratch, the bot can be found on and in Facebook (search Alan Squirrel).

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