David Gilman is partner in charge of Blacks Connect
In business it’s sometimes hard to work out what is going to work and what is going to be regarded as a huge waste of time.
The biggest and best companies in the world all have their major success stories to crow about but they will also have some abject failures that might have seemed a good idea on paper however in practice were found to be hugely damaging.
Technology seems to have delivered more than its fair share of terrible ideas and whenever I look at what is deemed to be ‘the next big thing’, particularly within the property market I am often filled with a nagging doubt about their viability.
Clearly some technology pushes the envelope and takes our whole market by storm, condensing many man/woman hours into the simple push of a button or click of a mouse.
Sourcing systems, for example, have undoubtedly revolutionised our market and the job of the mortgage adviser.
No need to trawl hundreds of sites or contact every single individual lender to get their product details when everything is available on one system.
Outstanding proof of how technology can deliver real benefits and incredible time savings.
However, not every system or product can do this; I am especially saddened by technology providers who suggest their latest innovation will cut out the need for client or broker or lender interaction.
Of course, we want a degree of automation because this is clearly beneficial but, to my mind, we certainly don’t want to work within an industry where the personal is jettisoned.
As we all know this business in particular is all about the personal, it’s all about the relationships we have, the contacts we keep and our ability to interact, influence and develop them.
This is why with Blacks Connect we wanted to have the technology available but we also wanted to insist on the dealing with advisers direct. Our focus continues to be on individual broker firms, developing those relationships and growing our business through a strong service ethic to these firms and total transparency.
Technology shouldn’t be used to cut this out completely, instead it should be an enabler in order to allow you to do more of this.
The system should work because of the time it gives back to talk to advisers and their clients, to understand their needs and to be able to then tailor a service to those needs.
After all, different firms work in different ways, different advisers want different things from their conveyancer and if we have no personal relationship, just an internet/system connection, then how can we be fully in tune with each other.
I fully understand that if your business only continues to work by securing huge volumes of business then automation is probably the be all and end all to you.
However, this is still no guarantee you’ll generate that business.
Without the relationships and the personal touch it’s unlikely you’ll have either clients signing up to use you, or in our case, advisers registering to conduct business.
For us, we would much rather everything was a more personal relationship and we were dealing with quality individuals passing quality business across, than a simple ‘anything will do’ approach which works at the very lowest levels in order to bring any type of business in.
I believe most advisers would want to work in the same way.
Clients come to you for the human touch – the service, the proposition, being able to talk to a real human being; if they want a ‘sausage factory’ approach they’ll go elsewhere.
Now, more than ever before, we are able to marry up the technology with the personal – and ultimately I believe all stakeholders will be better off if we take this joint approach.
When people become just a number on a database or spreadsheet then we lose what this business is all about – helping people secure the homes they want.
It’s easy to provide bad service to a number, it’s not so easy when you have that relationship and have made a strong commitment to deliver.