26 May Member Spotlight: Ikbenfrits
Member Spotlight: Ikbenfrits
Ikbenfrits is a fintech startup which is dedicated to give consumers the best refinancing advice about their mortgage products at an affordable price. Ikbenfrits is an outsider in the financial service industry, especially when it comes to mortgages. It is completely independent, as it doesn’t rely on partnerships with mortgages providers, nor is it a subsidiary of a big bank or corporation. Started in 2015, Ikbenfrits has rapidly grown the number of clients it services by having strong online tooling and an impeccable service. The three founders, all graduates from the Technical University in Delft, have closely mimicked the trend of technical brains applying their solutions to the problems of the financial industry.
Just recently arrived from their company-wide workation in Dakar, Senegal, Michiel Lensink, Co-founder of ikbenfrist.nl, explains a bit more about the mortgage advisory platform he started together with Thomas de Leeuw and Joost Schulze back in March 2015. Although none of them had prior experience with financial services, personal stories around the recurring trouble with refinancing and applying for mortgages led them to investigate the market more closely. In the Netherlands, the mortgage market was roughly divided over the three large banks, with pension funds just stepping in to use pension savings for mortgage provision. Small advisory firms mostly gave offline advice and could mediate between consumers and their preferred mortgage provider. This setup did not allow for a high level of competition, resulting in high costs and lacklustre service.
When starting ikbenfrits, Michiel and his colleagues initially looked solely at the market for the refinancing of mortgages, which became popular due to the lowering of interest rates after the Euro-crisis. Being programmers themselves, they constructed advanced tooling in order to quickly calculate whether it was financially interesting for consumers to refinance their mortgage at lower rates, accepting fees and punitive charges in the process. Their initial and less ambitious plan involved simply selling the leads generated from their tooling to other commercial parties, which could then take the next steps in helping people lower their mortgage costs. These parties lacked the sophistication to do this adequately, which resulted in the decision to offer the entire package themselves: making the calculations, offering online and offline advice to customers and helping them with making the right choices about the largest financial obligation they will hold during their lifetime. Their independence has certainly allowed them to stand out from the crowd, with the Dutch Consumer Union confirming that ikbenfrits is one of the only advisory parties which actually displays all the costs you will face as a customer when switching mortgages, including those costs from ikbenfrits itself. Since then, the company is expanding to doing more than just refinancing, by broadening their advisory services to first-time homebuyers and people who renew their mortgages on a new home once they move to a new place.
Aside from their mortgage advisory activities, Ikbenfrits has started the oversluitclaim, when they discovered that banks were overcharging their customers for refinancing their mortgage. They calculated the rates for over 26,500 cases in their database, and found that consumers were on average overpaying €3.020 per mortgage on the rulings placed on punitive fees by the AFM. Although there is already an agreement to refund overcharged customers from the period July 2016 onwards, ikbenfrits and stichting oversluitclaim want to go further, clawing back punitive fees from all those affected before July 2016.
In just over two years’ time, Ikbenfrist has made a positive impact on the Dutch mortgage market, providing transparency and clear guidance to consumers about the benefit of refinancing their mortgages and the costs involved. Going even further to help consumers, they’ve also taken on the banks to repay punitive fees, making sure they are firmly on the customers side. As a founding partner, Michiel still speaks to customers over the phone on a weekly basis, assuring he stays connected with the people his company ought to help. Will this new way of customer based finance become the norm? Only time will tell.
You can find out more about ikbenfrits on their website.