“We bring a combination of people and technology that allows customers truly customisable solutions in regards to how they contract with us and the products they purchase.”
Insightive.tv: Can you begin by giving an overview of your contracting processes?
Jon: We offer both savings and lending products. In building both the products and contracting processes, the focus was to offer customers choice. Technology is part of that solution, but so is human customer service. This is one reason we deliberately retained a UK based contact centre and operations office.
In terms of the digital savings business, we offer an online operation that allows customers to take control of the contracting process themselves. All of the identification and verification processes are done online with instantaneous decisioning and results. We digitally provide an account number that allows the customer to immediately fund their account. When it comes to maturity, that is an online process as well.
Our lending services are done through intermediaries. We built a technology portal that allows those intermediaries to provide tailored loans and process the case through to completion. Because this is an intermediary led process, our focus is on providing the technology that allows for a smooth customisable solution.
Insightive.tv: What is the main differentiator of this service from your competitors?
Jon: Our focus goes beyond technology and ease of contracting. When looking at the market, I see almost an obsession around technology. We bring a combination of people and technology that allows customers truly customisable solutions in regards to how they contract with us and the products they purchase.
For example, we allow customers to tailor and personalise their savings products to particular goals and timeframes through what we call a “flexible term saver.” These allow customers to set the exact day on which they get their money back with a guaranteed competitive interest rate. Throughout the entire contracting process, we offer expert advice over the phone to customers that want assistance or simply want to speak with someone before opening an account. This combination of human and digital suits the way in which a lot of customers are looking to interact. It is not about one size fits all — it is about allowing customers choice.
Insightive.tv: Did you develop this technology in-house — or contact with a third party?
Jon: It was a combination of both. Our front end is particularly bespoke and mostly built in-house to be fully responsive across different digital mediums. But, we used a number of partners — Experian and DPR specifically — to ensure that every part of the customer journey is smooth, consistent, and capable of carrying both our savings and lending products on the same platform. On the payment side, we use a firm called Bottom Line. It was not a system that we were able to purchase off the shelf, or one that we would have been able to build on our own.
Insightive.tv: What are your major challenges — what would you like to improve?
Jon: As a new entrant bank, we have to make sure that we can articulate what we are, what we provide and how it is different. We also have to ensure that customers feel secure giving us their money. This is something that has become easier in recent years and people come to understand that it is a rigorous process to get regulation. However, I think that, like every other retail challenger bank, we are currently at a disadvantage when it comes to lending because of the way regulation is set out in regards to capital requirements. That is something that we have to overcome, and we would like to see the playing field levelled so that we are best able to serve our customers.
We were, however, able to build a platform from the ground up. We don’t have legacy systems and I think it is too early to talk about transformation projects or barriers to change. We have developed a nimble system that was designed with a focus on the needs of customers. One of the main ways we are breaking into the market is by taking an approach to products that aims to provide services that are in-line with how customers want to do banking, rather than just getting carried away with technology or attempting to force customers down pre-designed paths.
We have a bespoke experience — and developed an identification and electronic processing system that is robust enough to allow over 84% of those looking to open an account with us to do so on their first online visit. There are only a few cases in which people are required to submit further documentation and verification. But we would like to move that figure towards 100% and are always looking to reduce the need for people to send in physical documentation.
Insightive.tv: Looking forward over the next three years, do you see the customer journey changing?
Jon: Fundamentally, we always look to start with the customers. For us, the goal from the beginning was to look at what customers were trying to do and bring a combination of technology and people to solve problems that were not being resolved by the existing retail banks.
From a lending perspective, I think there is potential for industry-wide innovation through bringing some of the advancements made in personal consumer lending to the mortgage lending process. The speed and ease of contracting and data management that has developed in consumer lending could improve the customer experience in the mortgage market if it can be implemented without diluting the expertise and advice inherent in human underwriting and needed to complete the longer term and larger loans facilitated through mortgages.
From a savings perspective, we need to make sure that we continue to innovate around our product range. Even though we are brand new we have picked up our first award for innovative savings products. We will continue innovation around the types of products we offer to customers — allowing them to get what they want and not just what is available.
The key to staying on top of those developments is to have the diagnostic and analytical tools available to assess where and why customers drop-out of the journey. That does not mean that you need to constantly undertake wholesale changes of the process, but rather continue to implement small changes that improve customer outcomes. From a customer perspective, this won’t look like a radical change, but it will feel like a continually improving experience. This is where we are looking to provide that crossover between human and digital so that customers have choice in how they interact.
I think that prioritising customer choice will move us, and the entire industry, to an emphasis on partnerships between platforms and organisation. Customers do not want to have settled relationships with any specific financial service institution — they want to be able to pick and choose. To facilitate that, we have to be able to manage data and manage relationships with other financial service providers. Flexibility, and the provision of integrated solutions that allow customers the ability to choose multiple products from multiple providers is the main way in which I see financial services in the UK developing.
Jon Hall is Managing Director at Masthaven Bank. Jon has almost three decades of senior management experience in financial services. Starting at PwC, moving to Aviva and then becoming CFO and CEO at Saffron Building Society, Jon joined Masthaven in early 2015 as Managing Director. Jon led the development of the Masthaven’s banking journey from a concept to its recent market launch. We spoke with Jon to gain his insight into how digital contracting has impacted Masthaven’s development and explore his perspective on the changing future of UK financial services.
Masthaven Bank has been offering lending products since 2004, but burst into the retail market in 2016 with the innovative concept of “human digital banking.” As a UK challenger bank, Masthaven offers lending and savings products designed to optimise customer control and kicked-off 2017 by winning this year’s Moneynet.com’s award for “Most Innovative Savings Provider.”
THE DIGITAL FUTURE OF CUSTOMER CONTRACTING series