Digitising the funder-broker channel in asset finance
We held an exclusive workshop for the asset finance industry to explore the opportunities that can be gained by digitising inefficient, manual, administrative processes.
The event brought together representatives from leading asset finance funder and broker communities eager to discuss their current application processes and the problems they encounter in the funder-broker channel, whilst also discussing how technology can help them streamline their operations, and support and empower the funder-broker relationship.
Below are some insights gained from the day and a summary of the key takeaways, highlighting the main opportunities that funders and brokers see in digitising funder-broker processes in the asset finance industry.
Efficiency and speed
Prior to the workshop, all participants were sent a survey asking them about the most important aspects of their business strategy. Efficiency came out top with 85.71% of the attendees stating that, although there are many important elements to the application process, speed and efficiency is the key decision driver even over competitive rates.
A number of factors were noted as causing inefficiency in the day-to-day processes of brokers and lenders:
- Legacy systems – delays between systems
- Regulation – variability in interpretation
- Repetition of manual processes
- Lack of consistency - too much variation of portals, systems and forms
As one workshop attendee noted, “There is no consistency between us as an industry.”
Brokers discussed how repetitive manual inputting of information was a huge driver of inefficiency causing delays and possible errors, with systems processes needed to make things smoother and create scale. Funders highlighted the number of applications they receive from a vast array of systems and forms. Likewise, brokers agreed that there is too much variation across lender portals and systems.
Broker advocacy and satisfaction
One common theme that was highlighted during the event was broker advocacy and fostering stronger relationships with brokers to encourage repeat business. Over 71% of the group classed this as one of the core elements of their business strategy.
Attending funder representatives noted that they need to maintain their relationship with their brokers who they see essentially as their customers and “the hand that feeds you.”
In turn, the broker wants what is best for their customers, with all participating brokers agreeing that service, speed and efficiency of a funder is of utmost importance in an application process.
Brokers and funders unanimously felt that the industry can often lose sight of the customer. The customer journey and service proposition must be at the top of the list, with the industry striving to make things easier for the customer.
Communication is key
The discussion moved to the methods that brokers use to communicate with the funder – whether to request a quote or to submit personal documents and information as required by the funder. Email stood out as the most commonly used tool allowing the flexibility and simplicity to submit and manage numerous cases.
However, issues with the use of email were raised by all parties including delay in email responses if the recipient is out-of-the-office, risk of error, and private information being sent to the wrong person.
To combat these issues, many funders have their own portals where the information can be inputted in a safe and secure manner to better process cases. But most brokers are not in favour of the portals especially when dealing with numerous funders all with their own unique portal where the information must be keyed in separately each time, rather than a single email that can be sent to a number of funders at once.
The workshop highlighted that brokers like to use familiar and easy communication methods, such as email, telephone, face-to-face meetings, that fulfil their needs to effectively communicate with customers and funders.
The funders and brokers in the group would be open to new simple cost-effective technologies that would enable the application process, from customer application to settlement, to be more efficient and streamlined, with an effective communication system.
However, brokers may only be receptive to such a system if a critical mass of funders were involved. As more and more parties collaborate on the tech, the more beneficial and mainstream it would become.
Messaging applications such as Teams, Slack and Webex used by some funders in the group were discussed as more effective and efficient communication tools than email, especially when looking to the future of the industry and the next generation of tech savvy industry professionals.
Technology is a core part of future business
While a range of systems are already in place across the asset finance industry, new technology to make things easier, quicker and more compliant are constantly being introduced.
One funder noted that an organisation must look at their strategy and future state of their business before making such a mammoth leap to new tech processes and systems.
All workshop attendees agreed that making a big tech change in any business is extremely “painful” and time consuming. Huge financial investment is needed in a system that could be out-of-date as soon as it is implemented. It seems that the general consensus in the asset finance industry is unless something is broken, you don’t fix it!
As an industry, the asset finance sector is not good at looking forward, but a move away from legacy systems is imperative to see how new tech can improve antiquated processes.
Survey findings prior to the workshop found that four key tech areas are important to the asset finance industry:
- Industry standard identity verification and approved e-signing
- Improved broker-lender communications and customer information sharing
- Providing tech to brokers
- Having a modern digital brand
Improved funder-broker communications and providing tech to brokers is seen as one of the key developments required in the industry to help the funder<>broker channel and ultimately the customer.
Brokers and funders are looking to work together to streamline their processes through new technology and make communication between all parties smoother and more effective in order to enhance the funder-broker relationship and help the customer.
Nivo’s Funder to Broker collaboration tool
Following discussions, Nivo CEO Michael Common introduced our Funder to Broker collaboration tool to the workshop attendees – a communication tech platform with verified identity messaging that can support asset finance brokers and funders to better engage with each other and also with their customers (through a messaging tool), to improve the collection of data and documents, to enhance the customer journey and improve the funder to broker relationship.
Making communication between all parties more streamlined, the tool provides a structured and organised chronological conversation thread between the broker and lender, plus a private messaging channel with customers.
Built in an interface based around messaging, the tool allows the human messaging interaction between all parties. The broker still controls the customer relationship and forwards information, documents and letters to the funder when required. The lender receives increased certainty with a straight-through process where all parties can see a single copy of each case via the cloud.
The tool can help brokers and lenders essentially work on more cases, improve the customer journey, and efficiency by being able to gather data, documents, evidence and approvals in one simple solution.
Nivo can be stand alone or it can sit as part of the funder’s portal. As information is gathered Nivo automatically generates a dynamic task list visible to all from both businesses. The checklist feature was praised by an attending broker who has recently used the system.
The broker can send tasks for applicants to complete directly through Nivo’s mobile app technology. Customers reply faster using the messaging platform, so more time can be spent on finalising the case rather than chasing the client.
Completed actions flow back against the task items on the case to be reviewed by the broker and then forwarded into the conversation with the funder.
Each ‘case’ links all corresponding documents, information, messages and contacts, providing a credible audit trail.
The system enables the addition of a NivoBot to the workflow to send out letters and requests for identity verification and e-signing.
The tool can be used by multiple agents and can be extended to other parties in the chain including solicitors.
Currently being rolled out by alternative finance provider, Time Finance, with some of its brokers Nivo’s Lender to Broker collaboration tool is able to convert numerous emails and requests across all parties into one consolidated system based around messaging.