Microsoft-Recordsure

Recordsure collaborate with Microsoft to transform client and adviser experience

We are excited to announce our collaboration with Microsoft to accelerate the transformation of both the client and adviser experience within financial services and similar regulated industries.

This is a crucial period for the market and the perfect time to announce our agreement with Microsoft. There is an irony in financial services right now: firms need advanced RegTech solutions to deal with the challenges forced on them by the pandemic, yet the disruption also makes it a difficult time for them to innovate. By partnering with Microsoft, we seek to bridge this gap and make our solutions more readily accessible to those that will benefit from increased digitisation.

Joe Norburn, CEO at Recordsure. Tweet

Our ground-breaking speech and document analytics platform provides pioneering analytics and automation solutions to financial services organisations and regulated sectors.

Already available through Microsoft Azure Marketplace, the collaboration will allow us to integrate with other Microsoft platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365. We have a unique insight into the demands of compliance processes within financial services and have developed machine-learning and RPA technology to drive improved efficiency, reduced risk and better culture.

As many financial firms adjust to increased customer demand particularly via digital channels, Recordsure offers new options to help organizations when it comes to compliance and risk management. As a result, companies can reshape their approach resulting in improved customer outcomes and transparency in the market.

Janet Jones, Head of Industry Strategy (UK Financial Services) at Microsoft Corporation Tweet

If you would like to discover more about how we help regulated organisations improve compliance, customer care and culture through sophisticated AI technology, then book a demo today.

Office Culture

A wealth manager’s guide to keeping office conduct and culture alive

When lockdown was announced, many people packed up their desks and set up shop at home. Offices provide a bustling atmosphere where employees can chat and collaborate, naturally creating a thriving culture.

When the office is removed from the equation, it can create a sense of disconnect. This isn’t just about technological infrastructure: companies need to re-create a community aspect of offices from individuals’ homes. As lockdown eases, there is a wide variety in how different organisations and even different teams are approaching returns to office life. For many, remote working will still be a dominant part of how firms will continue to operate.

It is vital to adapt to the changing work environment as without a sense of togetherness and the necessary safeguards, staff morale can be drastically impacted and new compliance risks can emerge.

Culture

Each individual will be dealing with lockdown and remote-working differently. Some may see it as a pleasant change from lengthy commutes and constant travel whilst others may be climbing the walls, yearning to be back in the office.

Many companies have spent years building the right internal culture, which is incredibly important for wealth management firms as the internal culture is reflected in how clients expect to be dealt with. Whether it is a highly regimented or a more free-flowing atmosphere, employees know what is expected of them when they enter the office, who they can expect to see and where they fit within the company. When that aspect is removed, it can be difficult for employees to maintain purpose and motivation.

On the other hand, managers and supervisors run the risk of flying blind. As the FCA highlights, take away the office environment where they can get a direct feel for what is going on around them and they are often left with just cold hard stats like sales figures to base judgements on. This runs the risk of limited decision making as deeper, more nuanced factors will not be taken into account.

The compliance risks from remote working

There are ways a home-working environment can potentially help contribute to compliance issues such as unsuitable advice, missing information in audit trails and in extreme cases even misconduct. As well as the potential lack of robust IT infrastructure compared to what is present in an office environment, remote working can create a sense of ‘out of sight, out of mind’, which can lead to some employees losing a sense of accountability.

Many business leaders have considered ways to try and replicate the culture of the office for employees working remotely in order to maintain their regular levels of performance and conduct. Successful as this has been in many cases, it often ignores some of the longer term challenges firms were dealing with before lockdown. There is a strong argument that leaders should be ambitious and seek to do more than just maintain the status quo remotely.

Before lockdown, many supervisors already spent less time with staff than they would like, making it harder to offer the level of support they ideally wanted. Having to travel long distances to attend meetings not only took up too many hours each week, but simply being in the room when a meeting took place meant they didn’t get a true reflection of the meeting: their presence would have an impact on the adviser’s behaviour, for instance putting them on edge or making them follow the book more than they would normally.

Advisers struggled too: training was limited as it was difficult to see real-life examples of what perfect client care looked like. Time with managers was often too little and too infrequent. They also had the nagging worry that in the event of any disputes, incomplete records would leave them unable to evidence that they had consistently followed procedure.

Thinking long term

Forward-thinking firms were investigating ways that a strong technological infrastructure can help maintain performance, conduct and culture long before the pandemic hit. Leaders now have access to many FinTech and RegTech solutions designed to reduce risk in highly regulated sectors, many of which are as compatible with remote-working as they are with the office environment. Firms need to embrace digital hybrid solutions that can adapt to both face-to-face and remote ways of working.

Take for example our auto-transcription tool, Capture. This sophisticated form of automation can now record all customer interactions for a complete audit trail, transcribe conversations and document them for review, either by the advisers themselves as a form of self-review or by managers to ensure procedures are being met. Team leaders can also manage performance and cohesiveness throughout the team without interrupting the rhythm in the meeting room. They can use client conversations as a form of ‘best practice’ example to demonstrate to employees what good looks like.

Setting up a robust and scalable recording solution should be a priority for homeworkers. This is a measure that many firms have not yet adopted after making the shift from face-to-face meetings to video: not only does it help improve culture but it protects advisers and firms from remediation risks while offering a new level of transparency to clients. Savvy firms are also looking into how they can then use this information as a springboard for more sophisticated means, be it smart risk management, driving efficiencies or unearthing commercially valuable client insights.

Remote-working and hybrid models are here to stay. Without the reliance on bustling offices and the constant interaction between employees to build a lively culture and ensure compliance, companies need to implement strategic changes. While it is natural to look for ways to mimic setups which were in place before the pandemic, the fact is that many organisations weren’t taking advantage of all the tools at their disposal before lockdown. Industry solutions which can support performance, conduct and culture will typically be just as well suited to remote workers as they are to the office environment. Leaders should not just be looking for short-term quick fixes, but to long-term modifications to the very way companies operate. 

If you would like to find out more about how our solutions can drive culture and compliance in a remote-based environment, then get in touch.    

the rising wave of debt management

Managing the financial challenge of COVID: The rising wave of debt management cases

Under normal circumstances, working with customers who are experiencing financial difficulty is one of the hardest parts of working in financial services. It’s hard for the customer, difficult for the staff who speak with them and challenging for the firm to balance fairness with commercial reality. But as furlough schemes come to an end, government-backed lending schemes fade away and unemployment rates skyrocket, the focus on Debt Management functions is only going to increase.

Firms need to move quickly to find ways to care for their customers, support their staff and balance the books without increasing the risk of operations and the risk of future remedial action.

The compassionate approach

The financial crisis of 2008 is often rightly cited as one of the most difficult times for financial services, and the economy as a whole. But it isn’t the most difficult day I remember in my financial services career. That day was 7th July 2005. The day of the London bombings. I was working in a Collections and Recoveries contact centre operation that ran both an inbound and outbound telephony service.

When the news broke about the bombings I happened to be sat near one of the senior operations managers. As someone who had recently been on the phones with customers, he turned to me and asked my opinion on whether he should suspend dialling operations. This was a multi-million-pound decision for the bank, a fact of which I was very much aware.

My answer was simple. I wouldn’t want to be phoning someone about their credit card debt when they are trying to reach a loved one to find out if they were ok. That would be an awful customer experience and a terrible experience for me as an employee as well.

I have no idea if what I said influenced the decision but we turned the dialler off that day and switched everyone to inbound-only. I have never before or since been prouder of the human side of financial services.

There is a growing debt crisis looming on the horizon. Not just in the UK, but across the globe. People are losing their incomes and government-backed schemes designed to carry them through are coming to an end just as a second wave of COVID seems destined to hit. Unemployment rates are rising and this is a sure sign that credit-defaults will shortly skyrocket too.

Lenders are rightly concerned. Mortgages are at risk, credit cards, secured and unsecured loans will go unrepaid at rates normally only associated with recession or depression-level events. No-one wants to repossess someone’s home but it’s an incredibly complex balance to manage.

The firms I speak to remind me that things have changed since my days in a Debt Management function. Customers are treated far more fairly these days, with a greater appreciation for personal circumstances, wider debt and financial positions of the customer and understanding of potential vulnerability. The firms I speak to are as concerned, if not more so, by the potential impact on customer trust and advocacy as they are their own bottom line.

Banks are ramping up their operations to cope with the increase in customers requiring debt management services. But scale-ups of this magnitude also risk inexperienced staff handling incredibly delicate and nuanced customer circumstances. The risk of getting it wrong is far more likely when the pressure is so intense, and you are new to the role.

Like so many other large-scale operations, there remains a huge reliance on sample-based observation and checking methodologies. These are outmoded concepts and ultimately struggle to identify systemic issues in large operations. They also struggle to properly and accurately identify individual agent coaching needs and rely heavily on risk-based approaches. Only when someone has failed a check are they more comprehensively sampled. At which point, they know they’re being more frequently sampled.

The implications are four-fold. The customer can be disadvantaged if their case isn’t handled appropriately, potentially going unmonitored until a complaint is made. The colleague can be unfairly assessed (both positively and negatively) based on random sampling of their interactions. The firm puts both their reputation and commercial position on the line with the threat of future remediation if found to have acted poorly. Finally, the banks themselves must account for customers in financial distress as part of their capital adequacy commitments.

All this at a time when the stakes for customers couldn’t be higher.

Take it from someone who has spoken to a single-mother of three children about how far over her credit limit she is, right after she lost her job. We are not talking about mortgages, loans and credit cards in the eyes of the customer. We are talking about their lives and their children’s lives. Their futures, and their children’s futures. There is no greater responsibility.

I am reassured by the steps that the FCA and the major players in banking have taken over the years to better understand this complexity, to identify and better comprehend what vulnerability means. Customers mental, physical and emotional health are all factors when speaking to them about financial difficulty. But I worry for my former colleagues and those that do the role I once did because it is hard, and hard-wearing. They will never be busier than they are about to be and they need support.

COVID has changed the way that our society operates for most of 2020. It seems likely that it will continue to do so into 2021 and who knows for how long afterwards. The financial ramifications will have a much longer tail.

Proactive compliance

How the Debt Management sector handles the coming few years will have implications not only for the reputations of their firms, or even the financial services industry, but for our society as a whole

Technology can help these firms to drive better, more consistent outcomes for their customers. Doubling and tripling any workforce comes with incredible risk that, if not properly monitored and supported, leads to failures of process and poor outcomes for consumer and lender alike. Evidencing that you’ve treated the customer fairly, every time, at a scale that seems impossible is something that can only be achieved with smart, sophisticated monitoring and evaluation tools.

I hope we do not see large remediation scandals in two-to-three years’ time. Because if that happens we will have collectively failed each other. It will mean that we have failed to recognise that unlike the financial crisis of 2008, there is no blame here. This isn’t about inappropriate lending. This isn’t PPI. This isn’t the customer’s fault either. This is a set of circumstances that have been wholly out of anyone’s control. And we really can afford to make sure everyone comes out the other end having been treated fairly.

Steven Hewlett-Light, Head of Product, Recordsure

Robot Adviser

Robo-advice isn’t the only way to simplify the advice journey

Automation has so many possibilities in the financial service sector. But to truly offer value, the goal is to make more routine aspects of an advisers role faster and simpler whilst also enhancing the adviser and customer experience.

When automation is mentioned in the sector, people are usually referring to a ‘Robo-adviser’. But whilst these tools certainly make a process faster and simpler, and there is most certainly a place for them, they will not be able to develop the relationship and loyalty that is critical to well-crafted and personal financial advice. However, this is not the only form of automation that is available. There are alternative tools that have been designed to support advisers in their role, removing or simplifying more routine tasks and ultimately enabling advisers to spend more time with their customers.

Enabling efficiencies

People are the most valuable resource a firm has. They are ultimately the differentiator in any customer experience. Whilst the growth of digital advice tools will almost certainly continue, there will always be a demand for that human level of reassurance when making significant decisions about our future. Enabling those who give that personal advice to spend more time with customers is where automation is key.

84% of millennials seek advice, showing there is a necessity for world class investment advise

As part of their role, many advisers undergo lengthy fact-finding and data gathering processes. Whilst it is essential to have detailed information surrounding the client to deliver thorough advice and proposals, it’s not necessary for this to be done manually, especially by the adviser when there isn’t support staff available.

Aside from the time aspect, this process is also mundane and repetitive, involving trawling through multiple files which could be in numerous formats; audio files held on Dictaphones or written notes. On average, this traditional process of collating information takes advisers or paraplanners 24 hours each week. Sophisticated tools such as ours have the capability to remove or reduce this administration, taking the load off the advisers and allowing them to spend more valuable time with their clients.

Making insight accessible

Our Capture tool automatically records and transcribes all client conversations in any meeting format such as video calls or in-person meetings using an app. This removes the need to manually transcribe from recordings, but more importantly, it will be stored securely in our platform and be used as a basis for further analytics where advisers will derive even greater value. We’re trusted by some of the largest banks in the UK as well as the UK Government to record and store sensitive conversations so you know you’re in safe hands.

Recordsure Voice tools highlight core information from conversations such as personal details, assets or even the needs and objectives of the client. Due to our expertise in the financial sector, our solution has been trained to identify nuanced terms and phrases. It can identify the type of investment, their attitude to risk and understand why they are investing.

This type of detail is essential but not traditionally easy to find. Sophisticated tools such as ours are designed to automate this aspect to assist the adviser and give them the facts at their fingertips.

In less structured meetings, data points such as assets and liabilities may not be available in just one area of a conversation and could be broken up through an entire conversation or across multiple interactions, making collating and reviewing exceptionally difficult.

Our Classify tool is able to visually overlay the topics of discussion onto a recorded conversation, meaning that when an adviser or compliance manager is reviewing, they can be instantly directed to the exact area of the conversation that holds the relevant information. This more accurate and complete view of client data means no detail is missed and less time is lost referring back to handwritten notes, or the clients themselves, for clarification.

Recordsure speech analytics solution integrates with existing processes and practices and offers benefits across the board, driving time efficiency savings alongside providing client insights.  

Why not find out how you could enhance and simplify your firm’s administration processes?  Get in touch!