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TOGETHER’S TRANSFORMATION STORY

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For over 40 years, Together has been committed to providing no-nonsense lending in even the most complicated of situations.

 

The company works with homebuyers, investors, landlords, and small businesses, and partners with a network of intermediaries, including brokers, accountants and solicitors, to secure the finance people need to buy a new home or start a new venture.

 

Antiquated processes

Historically, Together relied on manual processes, which were cumbersome and time-intensive. For a business that is focused on common-sense lending, the human touch in making intelligent business decisions is essential. However, it soon became apparent that the use of technology was an integral part in supporting people in making and implementing those decisions in the most efficient and effective way.

 

As the company began to experience rapid growth, this became even more essential, and so Together turned to Mastek to embark on a digital transformation journey.

 

Simon Carter, IT Director at Together, says, “The business had ambitious growth plans, but we recognised they couldn’t be achieved if we continued to work in the same way. We were very limited in our digital engagement with our intermediaries and our customers. To transform the business, we had to transform the technology.”

 

A journey of transformation

Because Together lends mostly through brokers, its transformation journey initially focused on them. Mastek helped the company replace obscure, complex product interfaces with a unified broker portal that is easier to use, much more systematic and clear about what brokers and customers can expect from Together, and about how the lender’s products work.

 

“We’ve removed paper-dependent steps out of processes, and automated manual ones. Our own research has shown 95% broker satisfaction with the new portal, and the business has reduced the underwriting turnaround by 30%. Meanwhile the business can instantly respond to regulatory changes. Ultimately, we have been able to grow the business in line with expectations, without changing the heart of the business,” says Simon Carter.

 

Improvements to the broker portal have also continued. For example, a recent addition of decision-in-principle functionality uses sophisticated underwriting logic to give potential customers immediate pre-approval for a specific loan amount. This gives them more information and confidence when choosing a lender to apply to.

 

Realising business growth

Together’s programme of smart change has played a big part in its ability to grow the value of its loan book by 150% in just three years, two years ahead of target.

 

Speed and ease of service have made Together increasingly attractive to brokers and their customers. New channels, such as mortgage clubs, have opened up to the lender. And Together’s many new internal efficiencies have allowed the company to take this growth in stride.

 

“Importantly, the partnership has provided us with the ability to scale up or down as business requirements change. We almost doubled our head count in the last four years, and trebled the size of the loan book, so this flexibility has been essential in supporting our rapid growth. Market conditions can also change, so it’s important to have the security of knowing the technology can support the business in that scenario too,” comments Simon Carter.

 

He adds, “the reality is that unless we had transformed, we may not be in business today. We recognised we needed to keep pace with the changing market, but the growth we’ve witnessed since our digital transformation shows we’re more than competing.”

 

Agile development

In the four years since starting to work with Together on the broker portal, the original 14-strong Mastek team has grown to more than 100, working on more than 125 Agile development projects and IT-enabled business enhancements.

 

Steve Thomason, Head of Business Systems at Together, explains, “We don’t buy our core IT products off the shelf; we’ve always pursued bespoke development of our systems of differentiation. It’s a strategy that works for us, giving us the control and flexibility to respond to broker and customer needs without ever waiting on a software provider.”

 

Before bringing Mastek on board, developments were managed in-house with ad-hoc use of contractors; but as the company’s ambitions grew and the pace of change accelerated, there was an unwelcome increase in delivery delays. These are now a thing of the past, with readily scalable Mastek resource and effective Agile development processes in place.

 

Planning for transformation

Every Together development project starts with an idea — a response to a broker need, for example — that is examined until all of the expected benefits and costs are clearly understood. Ideas that pass muster become projects (large or small) and the priority and delivery of projects is continually assessed and re-assessed. Even as the current crop of projects progresses, Together is planning ahead, usually by six to twelve months.

 

Collaborating for success

Besides looking outwards to its products and services, Together looks inwards for continual improvement in delivery. To this end, Mastek and Together are in daily contact. Not just to track and measure progress, but to assess ways of working, the mix of onshore and offshore resource, the performance of individuals, the support that they need, who to hire and when: everything that impacts on the success of the collaborative approach embraced by both companies.

 

Formalising innovation

‘Innovation’ can’t really be ordered on demand, but Together wants to be actively open to new ideas, and is looking to Mastek to bring them to the table.

 

“When we toured the Mastek Centre of Excellence in India and saw some of the things they were doing for other customers, it was an eye-opener,” says Thomason. “Today we have a joint innovation forum and meet regularly to discuss ideas.”

 

One of the novel approaches being tried is a hackathon, in which a number of small Mastek teams compete to come up with innovative solutions to a given Together challenge. Since most of the teams aren’t working on the Together account, it’s a productive — and fun — way for the Together/Mastek partnership to come up with fruitful new ideas to explore.

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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT + MARKETING + COMMUNICATIONS

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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT + MARKETING + COMMUNICATIONS

Volante Technologies Recognized as Market Leader in Omdia Universe: Selecting a Payment Hub, 2021-22 Report

Cloud payments company scores highest mark for solution innovation capabilities and strategy

Volante Technologies, the global leader in cloud payments and financial messaging, has been recognized as a Leader in the Omdia Universe: Selecting a Payment Hub, 2021-22 global survey.

In preparing the report, Omdia, the analyst division of Informa, performed an in-depth review of the market and ranked vendors based on a matrix of key capabilities, attributes, and features. The comprehensive process incorporated in-depth client and vendor interviews, and is designed to help C-level executives, payment heads, and IT directors select the payment hub platform that will enable their payment modernization ambitions.

The report states that Volante has been recommended as a Leader “thanks to its co-innovation capabilities.” It highlights “the speed that the payment hub can be implemented” and “the maturity of Volante’s cloud capabilities” along with its “particularly strong low-code integration layer” as contributors to the ranking. The report concludes, “Volante scored the highest mark for its solution innovation capabilities and strategy / product roadmap.”

Philip Benton, Senior Analyst – Financial Services Technology at Omdia, said: “Volante Technologies earned its place as a recommended leader thanks to a combination of genuine innovation and the provision of services which allow the company to deliver significant payments efficiencies to both small and large institutions.”

John Farrell, SVP Global Product Management at Volante, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the top ranking of leader by Omdia. This recognition vindicates our strategy of working as a trusted partner to our customers, and helping free them from the limitations of legacy systems through modern cloud-native payments solutions.

“With 75% of our staff in research and development, we intend to continue investing in our products to maintain our leadership position, and continue delivering outstanding results to our customers.”

 

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ARTERIA AI SET TO ACQUIRE H4’S FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS ASSETS

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H4 Chairman and Co-founder Joe Seifert to join Arteria AI as senior advisor

 

Arteria AI, an award-winning global leader in enterprise digital documentation, has agreed to acquire certain financial services assets of H4, an award-winning contract lifecycle management platform.

As part of the agreement, H4’s Chairman and Co-founder Joe Seifert will join Arteria AI’s team as a senior advisor.

Shelby Austin, CEO of Arteria AI, said: “This is a very exciting time for our business as we set out to unleash the power of data to help global financial institutions solve their client documentation challenges at scale. Since spinning out of Deloitte we have continued on an incredible growth journey accelerated by the market’s clear preference for data-first solutions.”

“It is a strategic decision for us to acquire certain financial services assets of H4 to expand our reach and super-charge our efforts. Joe Seifert will bring invaluable experience and expertise to our team.  We look forward to working together to provide an unrivalled, data-first client documentation solution for global financial institutions.”

Joe Seifert said: “Arteria AI and H4 cover most of the top-tier of the financial services market and it made perfect sense to join forces. Having spent time with Shelby and the team, I’m very excited that the combination will support Arteria AI’s position as a leader in digital documentation transformation across the global banking sector.”

Arteria AI works with the world’s largest banks to accelerate their client documentation processes at scale.  From document generation through signature and beyond, Arteria uses context-specific AI, data, analytics and automation to ensure that stakeholders across the bank are able to serve their clients more quickly.  This can be a key factor in driving additional revenue and minimizing risk and cost.

The company’s co-founders Shelby Austin, Abrar Huq and Jonathan Wong have more than 30 years experience within the documentation space and were leaders within the AI community prior to launching Arteria AI in October 2020.

H4 will focus on its offering for the corporate market, outside of global banking. Rob Fagg, CEO, and Andy Byrne, COO, have agreed a management buyout of H4, continuing their roles and becoming co-founders of the new business. Joe Seifert will remain a minority shareholder in H4.

 

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