First published by Financial Reporter*
The search for the ‘new’ in technology is completely understandable – not a day goes by when the tech entrepreneurs, the University faculties, and the business behemoths that stride this landscape, aren’t searching for the next phase of development or ingenuity that will take their technology, systems, processes, etc onto the next level. That is the raison d’etre and that is what they will continue to do.
For mortgage and protection advisers, while the tech we use is obviously necessary and valuable, and cuts down on our administration, and provides us with access to the entire market, that need to be at the ‘cutting edge’ when it comes to technology is often not there. It’s not that you don’t understand how it supports and underpins your working life, but there is not the urgency to have the ‘newest’ piece of kit or software and, quite frankly, neither should there.
However, from a network perspective, we tend to look at things a little differently. And it’s probably fair to say that, when it comes to delivery of tech and providing our AR firms with a system which is not just up to scratch, but forward-thinking in terms of helping future-proof their businesses, this is a major priority for us and has been for some time.
The reasoning behind this is quite simple – by investing in our Revolution system, we have been able to develop a system that doesn’t just process the business of our AR firms, but actively helps them secure it. Not only does it cut down considerably on the administration tasks that come when writing any piece of business, but it also lets individual advisers communicate with their clients, their colleagues, and all other stakeholders within the chain.
It’s about fully integrating the system into the business and allowing each firm to actively engage with all its features and to track cases, or market to clients, or create different product/sector propositions. In essence, it’s a complete online business solution which has an incredible amount under the bonnet.
And yet…when it comes to either our system, or indeed any other system used by advisory firms right across the land, just how much performance are they getting out of these ‘engines’? Because, we know only too well, that sometimes we’re all creatures of habit – we get comfortable with the way a system or solution works, we use what appears to be the main parts of it and we’re happy that it seems to work when it comes to our own performance and that of the firm.
And yet…are we truly using that system to its full potential? We have 11 developers working on our system full-time – that means that we don’t stand still in terms of upgrading the existing kit and being able to add to it. However, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard ARs ask for an upgrade or revamp which has already happened, or was put in place sometime ago.
Now you might say this is a communication problem on our part, and perhaps some of it is. However, all firms will have been told about such changes and, while some pick up on it and begin using it immediately, others do not. So there’s definitely scope for a change in mindset here and I would say, there’s definitely a motive to periodically go back to basics when it comes to understanding the technology and the systems you use every day, because I guarantee they’ll do far more now than you remember them ever doing.
So, how to access this? Well, it’s a case of setting aside some time for training and re-learning. Our AR firms often request new, refresher or additional training and we can work with both new and established Stonebridge firms so they’re fully aware of what Revolution can do. At our Annual Conference we always set out just what improvements we’ll be making during the course of the year, and we communicate regularly about these updates as they happen.
However, what it will come down to, is making sure there’s a collective effort from all concerned to fully-understand the system, to ensure you know exactly what it can do and what it’s capable of doing, and then to systematically begin using it. This is not about utilising new tech for the sake of it but ensuring you are getting everything possible out of your existing systems. They can usually do so much more, it seems a crime not to use them.
Rob Clifford, Chief Executive of Stonebridge
* Original title – “Are we using technology to its full potential?”