With Fintech companies paving the way of innovation in the financial services sector, it seems that the Asset Finance industry has been left behind and remains archaic in the way it is considered. The industry is calling out for a fresh and innovative approach, although it should be careful to not lose sight of the relationship led foundation it was built on.
The specialist and alternative lending community has most definitely grown over the years which inevitably has provided greater opportunity and access for SME’s to borrow. Whilst we notice this ever growing community of funders, I strongly believe that the majority of SME customers are unaware of these alternative forms of lending and their suitability to their business, creating a natural divide through lack education and awareness. Charles & Dean aim to innovate this space through bridging this gap in knowledge whilst offering a service that is driven through genuine relationships and enhanced through intelligent technological innovations.
There is a fundamental misconception around innovation as the term is often associated solely with technology and automated processing. Innovation should be recognised as challenging the norm and doing things differently, which the Asset Finance sector is in desperate need for. The entire process of innovation starts with challenging old school thinking and ultimately finding the answer to the question: What is our purpose as a brokerage in the economy and how do we add value in an effective and efficient manner?.
The Asset Finance market presents a significant opportunity for disruption and innovation; to make the environment of finance more personal, simple and straightforward, seeking to cut out the complexity for the customer. Technology should be used to enhance service through driving speed and efficiency to improve the customer journey, rather than being used to detract from human interaction and communication with clients. Customers require solutions and innovation needs to anticipate them. An effective CRM is an essential requirement to enhance customer relationships and ensure regular and relevant engagement. Many companies focus too heavily on increasing their customer numbers and forget to maximise the opportunities within their existing database of customers. With an effective and intelligent CRM system we can maintain a regular interest with existing customers allowing us to benefit from organic, customer focused growth.
As an industry we should look to harness the power of new emerging technologies to spark business transformation, exploring and embracing leading edge technologies that will help us drive process efficiencies and support customers making more informed decisions. We are already looking into the benefits Artificial Intelligence within our own CRM systems, not only to track activity within our client base but also to integrate industry trend data dynamically in real time.
Agility in this market has never been more necessary. With particular areas of the industry becoming more commoditised, it reinforces the importance of exploring new markets and recognising where our services provide greatest value. The broker market has always been built on a customer focused foundation based on the SME sector that we commonly support, therefore the industry can not fully accommodate a fully automated ‘self serve’ environment.
We believe that relationships and the lifetime value of customer will become even more important drivers of sustainability in the broker market. We are firm believers that businesses don’t make decisions. People do. That leads us to reject the traditional B2C (business-to-consumer) or B2B (business-to-business) models in favour of more authentic P2P (person-to-person – or human-to-human) interactions.
At Charles & Dean we place equal importance in both our IT and digital investment and
more traditional “customer focused” methods. To lose the human touch would be to lose the reason for our existence. Our customers come to us for our transparent, impartial and consultative approach to business and remain with us as our processes protect them and their data through the digital age. The IT we implement is introduced to protect the customer and make their experience with Charles & Dean as favourable as ever.