Technology in financial services: navigate the change through The Cornerstone Network  

Technology is paving the way for many industries and continues to accelerate the growth of organisations worldwide. However, not all finance professionals have embraced technological innovation at the same pace as other industries, despite the rise in FinTech. 

Innovation often prioritises process over user experience. When that’s coupled with a lack of appetite from large organisations and small business owners who feel unequipped, it’s no surprise that financial providers have failed to navigate the disruption with outdated technology. 

While some lenders and FinTech organisations frequently invest in multi-million-pound enterprises, only a relative few succeed, and only a handful of those truly disrupt the marketplace. The good news is that the combination of new IT solutions and cloud technology available on the market today can allow even the smallest firms to work smarter. Additionally, making use of new tools can help business owners spend less time dealing with paperwork and more time working on their business.  

At the Cornerstone Finance Group, our ambitious plans have meant that we’ve needed to make the most of the technology and systems we use.

So, what tools have we used, and what learnings can we share?

Head in the ‘cloud’

Whether you’re aware if it or not, you’re most likely interacting with cloud computing on a daily basis. Whenever your phone, laptop or smart speaker does something clever, like suggesting your next holiday, the real work is done in the cloud.  

While for many the idea of cloud computing may be scary when it comes to your business, there are some real advantages:

  • Agility – The pandemic has shown us that being tied to our desks is a thing of the past.  At Cornerstone, we created a platform that allows our staff, AR’s and self-employed advisers to access our systems from any location globally. This not only improved collaboration, but it means that advisers can access our systems when they need them. 
  • Reliability – All of our systems are hosted in the cloud, our providers boast 99.9% uptime and are trusted by both large institutions and governments. As well as being more reliable, the cloud offers better speed and less chance of things going wrong.
  • Scalability – The ability to scale up processing power, storage and users instantaneously makes the cloud a great option for growing businesses. You don’t need to spend thousands on future-proofing servers or extra IT planning for expansion. 
  • Security – While this is arguably the biggest concern about cloud computing, it can actually improve your security, not reduce it. Through the cloud, Cornerstone now has access to multiple-version-control, ransomware protection, and long-term retention backups for all our data. Rather than important files being kept on a single device that can be lost, stolen or broken, the cloud allows us to meet data security requirements and provide access to information whilst ensuring our customer information is safe.
  • Cost – Although not necessarily cheap, the advantage of using the cloud is that it’s scalable. Allowing us to budget effectively, paying for the services and capacity needed at any point in time. This keeps our overheads low, allowing us to focus on other parts of the business.  

Turning data into intelligence

Within a business, every person creates and stores data, whether that’s in a CRM, spreadsheets or simply through notes. One of the challenges businesses face is being able to turn all of that data into valuable insights without employing a team of data analysts.

At Cornerstone, we wanted to capture data from various sources and present it in a way that provided valuable insights. There was nothing like this available on the market – so we built it ourselves!

Our data visualisation suite, built using the market-leading PowerBI, highlights trends, identifies blockers and demonstrates opportunities. In addition, we have an interactive balanced scorecard that includes activity, pipeline management and compliance, helping us manage both adviser performance and risk. We share these insights with our ARs, giving them the tools they need to drive performance. 

App, app and away

Previously, developing apps was not within reach for most businesses. However, the latest releases of the Microsoft Power Platform has enabled us to develop bespoke applications for both mobile and desktop, which directly fit our advisers’ needs.

In October, we launched our Cornerstone Leads app, allowing our advisers to securely share leads across all of our specialist areas, including wealth, commercial finance and commercial insurance.  As a result, through the Cornerstone Finance Group, an adviser is now able to provide guidance and products from across the Group backed-up by a full team of specialists. 

Regular notifications and access to reporting means our advisers can maintain their customer relationships, offer a wider range of services and increase their revenue opportunities.

Automation

Operating in a highly regulated market can often mean that we’re repeating a lot of the things we do. Repetition can often can often lead to challenges in time, accuracy and apathy, making it tempting to skip steps and also leaves the door open for human error. 

At Cornerstone, we’ve built several automation tools that help us maintain our data and give us reminders and updates when things need doing. Our approach to automation has seen us improve our approval processes by adding speed and consistency without increasing costs.  

Need help? 

We know it can be hard to find the time and resources to develop the tools we have at Cornerstone. But we’ve done the work, so you don’t have to. 

We’re proud to share the benefits of our creations and continue to develop with our growing network of ARs. We’re more than happy to demonstrate our tools and discuss how they can be used to help your business grow with us. 

For more information, please feel free to contact us on 02921 660 550 or leave us a message, and we’ll be in touch.