In his latest blog for The Intermediary, Stonebridge Chief Executive, Rob Clifford, outlines the reasons for technology becoming ever more important for firms and their clients.

Any analysis of why an existing appointed representative (AR) firm – or indeed those moving from directly authorised (DA) to AR or starting fresh – chooses one network over another is often down to two key considerations.

At this point, you may expect me to say it is all about the financial deal – commission rates, network fees, regulatory charges passed onto the advisory firm, PI Insurance premiums, and so on.

Of course, this is always going to play a part, but it is very rarely the number one or even number two reason; instead, in no particular order, it tends to be based on the compliance support they’ll receive (relationship and style, just as much as policy) and of course the technology they’ll be provided with.

The latter consideration is growing in importance day-by-day, even hour-by-hour given what is happening in the wider technological space.

Tech’s growing significance

Advisers will no doubt have seen the huge amount of interest and speculation around the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in all our workspaces, and perhaps be wondering just where this goes in terms of what it means to our professional lives and how it translates into efficiencies and outcomes for our clients.

It’s early days of course, but I think there’s little doubt that the likes of ChatGPT and its peer group will be utilised within the delivery of mortgage advice – we just don’t know how and what this will look like.

In the meantime, it’s fair to say that technological advancement in the advisory space continues to move at a pace for some brokers and networks, and key pieces of established and new functionality are bolstering the ability of advisers to deliver far more efficient processes and a consistent standard of advice.

Tech as a time saver

We are fortunate in the mortgage intermediation sector that we’ve a number of firms driving technology development, including Stonebridge through our Revolution system. This is an ongoing multi-million-pound investment because we see the overwhelming value it delivers to our member firms, particularly in terms of the time-saving it offers to individual advisers, the competitive advantage it provides, and the risk mitigation it delivers.

Speaking to our member firms, day-in/day-out, we’re aware of how important timesaving is and the functionality we’ve introduced recently has been fully focused on the areas of the advice/sales process which can benefit from this.

For example, the RevolutionID verification service delivers validation of the client’s identity and address at the touch of a button, with a ‘pass/referral/rejection’ response plus other customer insight, to allow the adviser to proceed quickly.

Plus, focusing on speed and time saving, we launched functionality within Revolution so advisers could submit and manage their financial promotions to secure quicker approval while providing a full audit trail. And most recently we launched specific functionality which allows our firms to identify and support customers in vulnerable circumstances via a series of AI-based prompts.

We’re all aware that identifying potentially vulnerable customers is a key focus for the FCA, and with the Consumer Duty rules almost here, advisers will need to be able to demonstrate they are doing this, and what extra support they are providing to those who are identified as vulnerable.

Tech supporting compliance

Finally, it is of course crucial that we marry up the need for time-saving advisory-focused technology with the desire for full compliance support that provides ongoing peace of mind for firms.

Stonebridge’s Check, Action & Resolve (CAR) system within Revolution looks at every case and provides an early warning to advisers when it identifies missing documentary evidence and other data points requiring completion. Earlier this year, CAR surpassed five million case checks since its launch delivering an inordinate amount of time-saving (and therefore financial saving) for all advisers who have access to this unique piece of technology.

Fully-rounded technology offerings can be a rare commodity – certainly, many firms subscribe to off-the-shelf systems from various sources and try to shoe-horn them into their own business, which can give them a peculiarity all of their own and may well mean they are not working as efficiently as with a holistic offering. Even if you’re not an AR of Stonebridge you can still access Revolution, as we also offer a version of it, selectively, to DA firms who partner with our group.

Assessing your firm’s needs

It goes without saying that advisory firms need to have a system that not only works for their business today but is going to grow and respond to changing needs, those of clients, and importantly, to the speed of change taking place in the marketplace.

In other words, it needs to develop alongside your firm, and your tech provider or network needs to be fully committed to the ongoing investment and resources required to keep it ahead of the pack and ensure it continues to deliver.

Not all mortgage broking systems are equal by any means: you should seek out the best in class – they are likely to play a pivotal role and make all the difference, for your firm and your clients both now and in the future.

Contact us now to discover how our Revolution platform can support your firm in delivering good outcomes for clients.

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