Commercial lenders are always looking for ways to embrace new technology in order to improve the way they process and manage different finance deals. Mark Crook, group chief executive officer at Henry Howard Finance (HHF), looks at the positive impact that technology is having on the sector, and how businesses can benefit from the digitisation of finance, as well as the challenges and pitfalls to consider as the commercial lending market evolves.
Advances in technology in our personal lives mean that we can pay household bills, book holidays and complete a weekly shop without so much as getting up from the sofa – and all at the touch of a button. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the business finance industry is under increasing pressure to keep pace with digitisation, having led the way for the past few decades, to ensure that SMEs have quick and easy access to finance.
Convenience in our domestic lives is important. That concept is also well and truly active in the business finance sector, where decisions can be made and tailored packages drawn up for clients in seconds – it keeps the economy on the road and, importantly, gives SMEs the ability to invest in business critical assets without a large capital outlay, supporting the regular day-to-day provision of services.
At HHF for example, we have developed an online leasing portal known as ‘HowApp’, an innovative and smart response to the traditional paper-heavy and time-intensive methods of finance. With HowApp, vendors are able to set up finance packages tailored to their clients’ needs with just seven clicks of a button. After 20 years in the finance industry, we wanted to offer all types of businesses the opportunity to simplify and speed up the process of credit approval, and HowApp does just that, cutting transaction times by up to 90 per cent. This is client convenience at its best.
But alongside its advantages, new technology comes with its own challenges and pitfalls. Innovation and digitisation costs money, although in general, the cost of technology is falling as we move increasingly into a digital world.
There are other considerations too, such as the all-important security protection, ensuring that data is not breached or lost that would ultimately result in the loss of client confidence. Businesses also need to remain acutely aware that in the world of technology, nothing stays the same for very long and that the next ‘smart solution’ is probably already being created.
One of the challenges of technological innovation in the finance industry is, of course, the risk that what’s been developed is of poor quality, which is why at HHF we were delighted to be recognised at the Comms National Awards last year when we won the ‘Best Channel Business Service’ owing to our innovative product offering and HowApp efficiencies.
Having been at the forefront of advances in finance technology, it’s a safe bet that the sector won’t be resting on its laurels and neither will we – we will continue to invest and develop our cutting-edge and innovative solutions for clients with speed and convenience at the core.