You could say that it’s been a hectic start to 2021
David Lownds is head of marketing and business development at Hanley Economic Building Society
Like all lenders, we’ve had to juggle many different balls in order to service a flood of new applications, service pipeline business, combat logistic/operational issues whilst still working towards future proofing the business.
The importance attached to technology over the past few years has become increasingly evident across the intermediary market and the additional challenges experienced by all lenders in the past 12 months has certainly reaffirmed this.
Back in April 2020 we began a journey to completely overhaul our current mortgage and savings platforms, as well as revamping our back-office systems.
The core of our systems has remained the same for 25 years and you could say that we have maximised their capacity.
We needed something more fit for the future and we have been working to transform our systems to ensure that we move to a more modern model, which better reflects the innovative nature of our product range and meet the ever-changing needs of the intermediary marketplace.
To offer some background, for the first stage of this process we focused on revamping our back office systems.
Anyone who has done this – however large or small in scale – will know just what a time-consuming and resource-laden process this is.
Having said that, it does form the most important building block on which everything else can be constructed around and fed into.
The next stage comes in the form of a mobile banking app and online banking facility.
Now these are not tools which will really affect advisers but they do show the direction we are looking to take from what I can only describe as humble tech roots.
The next stage is where it gets a little more impactful for the intermediary market.
In order to complete the full transition of our mortgage processing platform, we took the tough decision to temporarily halt new lending.
This was not a decision which we took lightly but throughout this process we learned that testing, then more testing, identifying bugs and issuing fixes was a far from simple process and that it would cause its fair share of disruption to our intermediary partners and their clients.
Again, we realise a short withdrawal from the market is far from ideal.
However, this does allow us to ensure that any disruption will be kept to a minimum and it also allows us to focus on servicing existing applications alongside implementing these system enhancements.
It’s clear that tech enhancements are necessary in better servicing the ever-changing needs the intermediary market and increasing efficiencies across many businesses.
The phrase ‘short-term pain for long-term gain’ is certainly not lost on us.
Although, we are certainly focusing on the many positives which will emerge from all this hard work and believe that our new systems will open a new chapter in the books of an institution which is almost 170 years old, and still going strong.