Mortgage and insurance network Stonebridge has shared the results of the first month of significant changes to its systems and processes due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The company closed its offices in Nottingham, Basildon and Milton Keynes on 26 March 2020, and implemented its remote working policy on the same day.
All departments fully deployed existing and new technology solutions including its proprietary training platform Revolution, used by all appointed representative (AR) firms and advisers.
A large number of Stonebridge’s internal systems and processes were adapted in order to help member firms continue to trade and offer the usual services to clients.
For example, the company implemented paperless fee agreements, obtaining documents via the client portal and verification via Revolution ID, dealing with furloughed advisers and providing business standards and compliance support.
In addition to the use of Revolution as a key resource, Stonebridge has provided guidance for its AR firms around conference technology, such as MS Teams and BlueJeans.
The network reported that having its own in-house system has given advisers extra confidence and resilience, while ensuring they could benefit from cloud-based systems to maintain and track their workflow.
Stonebridge has also ensured that all existing advisers are up-to-date with training and CPD requirements remotely, even in furlough.
Earlier this month, the network launched remote video induction courses for new advisers.
Discussing the onboarding of a new adviser, Bobby Lumsden, mortgage adviser at Stonebridge AR firm RML Financial Management, said: “It has been a superhuman effort by everyone who played a part in getting Richard authorised in very trying circumstances.
“We are living and working in extraordinary times just now and it was amazing the way everyone at Stonebridge pulled together to achieve this goal.
“Those in the recruitment and onboarding team, in business standards and the Revolution team, who so quickly put together a remote induction course and helped to take our new recruits forward in their career, all work tirelessly behind the scenes making Stonebridge the successful and respected brand that it is.”
The recruitment team has continued to report a regular flow of applications from advisers and firms, and the network is urging any firms seeking greater levels of support through the crisis to get in contact.
Stonebridge has also increased the number of webinar-based training options for AR firms, in partnership with protection providers and lenders, as well as Legal & General and iPipeline.
The network has also provided additional marketing resources to firms and advisers, aimed at improving the remortgage and protection advice journey.
Meanwhile, Stonebridge’s COVID-19 support hub page for its AR firms and customers covers frequently asked questions, communication updates and resources such as business and financial guidance, home movers’ advice and information about personal wellbeing.
Carl Webber, chief technology officer at Stonebridge, said: “Last month presented significant challenges for all, but I’m pleased to say that the strength and flexibility of our systems and processes came to the fore, and we’ve successfully been able to change the way we work, to ensure our AR firms and advisers could continue with their work – many of which have been in touch to pass on their gratitude.
“This is something we at Stonebridge are all immensely proud of.
“We are fortunate to have Revolution, which is our proprietary platform that is developed and supported by our own in-house team.
“Revolution, and the majority of our technical estate, is highly adaptable and cloud-based, meaning we can still support and continue to develop new functionality, such as online training and make available greater marketing resources.
“Feedback from firms has been excellent and it encourages us to continue to add new ways of working and training to ensure users have everything they need to make it through this difficult period and beyond.
“We fully appreciate that these are unprecedented times, but we want firms to know that Stonebridge will continue to support them in every way possible and if they require anything, they should make contact with us via the usual channels.”