We look into the future with Lead Tech’s CEOs as they share their expert opinion on what the future could hold for Lead Tech and the financial advice industry.
Paul Walsh and Nigel Borwell created one of the first lead generation companies in the financial advice sector over a decade ago. Since then they’ve led the company to success, exploring new technologies, expanding their team of specialists and partnering with financial services firms across the country.
Q – What do you currently see as the main challenges for the financial advice sector?
NB – The increasing regulatory costs of providing advice ultimately impacts on the consumer through higher fees and advisers focusing on higher-net-worth clients. This has resulted in an ‘advice gap’ where people with smaller pension funds and limited assets are not as attractive to advisers.
Part of Lead Tech’s strategy for the coming year and beyond is to support this by ensuring we match the right customers with the right partners who can provide the best level of advice. This will improve the customer journey from start to finish.
PW – I think the other main challenges are that the UK’s ageing population is increasingly being asked to make their own retirement plans. We’re also dealing with housing market problems and there’s a shift from having jobs for life to a more transient workforce. Personal finance is becoming more complex as people are living longer too. These issues are causing shifting financial responsibility which will drive many to seek financial advice.
Q – What do you think needs to change in the industry?
NB – I think the way financial services are perceived needs to be modernised. The industry knows this and many companies are working on modernising, but it will take a long time.
Financial advice is thought to only apply to retirement, but we need to dispel the myth that it’s solely a concern for older people. By utilising mainstream channels, such as TV, I think we can help increase public awareness of the importance of financial advice for everyone.
Children can also benefit from the key principles of planning and managing money. By bringing this education into the curriculum, I believe we can teach them valuable lessons that they can bring into their adult lives.
PW – Going back to Nigel’s point about modernisation, I believe the financial advice market will have to adapt to customers using more technology to communicate. There’s always going to be a place for meetings, but I think tech is going to be an integral part of the process, whether that’s video calling or automated advice.
Q – What do you think the future holds for financial services?
PW – More people are using tech in their everyday lives and it’s becoming more common in banking, insurance and other sectors. But as things are becoming more digital, the difficulty is in maintaining a human approach. For it to work, it’s essential that we make a connection with our customers, especially in financial advice.
NB – There are difficulties in every industry, but Lead Tech has become very adept at quickly identifying opportunities to improve by addressing customer challenges. In this way, we’re continually improving the customer and adviser experience.
As Paul mentioned, I see financial advice becoming more accessible through technology, with new businesses set up to meet changing customer communication needs, whether that’s online, over-the-phone or more traditional face-to-face financial advice.
Q – Where do you see a lead generation business like Lead Tech going?
NB – With the emergence of increased data ordinance and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it’s only a matter of time before the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) put a spotlight on lead generation. I can see evidence that this is happening.
The exciting thing about the future of Lead Tech is that the future is unwritten. Paul and I spend a lot of time building the business around customer experience. Lead Tech is always evolving with the changing market and building value in ways that companies in this space aren’t doing.
We’re passionate about setting a standard for financial advice lead generation by continually improving efficiency and exploring new technologies. We’re currently researching how machine learning can help our teams save time by streamlining processes and performing tasks such as identifying higher-quality leads.
PW – Our ethos has always been about growth and innovation. We use data and insights to create a better experience for our customers and partners, but we can always go further. That’s why we’re testing new communication channels, such as chatbots, to improve our consumer brands and customer journey.
Increasing capabilities with data and technology will also impact our culture. Nigel and I made a concerted effort to reimagine what being a lead generation company means. To stay ahead of the curve, learn and improve, we needed skilled people. We moved to larger offices that could sustain a bigger workforce and, in the next year, we’re planning to recruit an additional 25 people.
Q – Does Lead Tech have plans to explore other markets?
PW – The markets we operate in are based in the UK, but I’m also interested in looking at different countries such as the US. Their market is 20 times bigger than the UK’s, but it’s also the closest to ours. At this stage, it’s a high-level ambition for Lead Tech, but it’s a market I think we could make headway in.
We’ve also had discussions with companies around Dubai and Singapore. They’re both interesting markets because there are huge expat communities there. Outside financial advice, I think there are many areas, industries and sectors we could look into that we’d be equally successful in.
NB – By potentially taking what we’ve built into other sectors and countries, we can create an opportunity for the business and the people that work for Lead Tech. Broadening our scope creates opportunities for everyone.
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