01 April 2024

Evolving with technology to supercharge skilled staff

By Jonathan Workman, Transformation Director at Paragon Bank

Businesses must embrace technological change or risk being left by the wayside. While technologies such as generative AI will undoubtedly change the way we work, if implemented carefully, it can enhance human resource and not replace it.   

Finance and insurance are the sectors most likely to be impacted by generative artificial intelligence (AI), according to a report published by the Government’s Department for Education’s Unit for Future Skills.

Financial managers and accountants were included amongst the occupations under threat from any type of AI, a list topped by management consultants, while those working in call centres had the highest likelihood of being impacted by large language models like ChatGPT.

Technology already has such a huge impact on our lives and our reliance on it grows alongside our expectations of it. This means that businesses must continue to evolve in our increasingly digital age, utilising technology to improve the customer experience or risk becoming relics of a bygone era.

Despite this, I don’t think AI will replace humans for some time, not at Paragon anyway.

The expertise of our people is one of our key strengths, our manual underwriting enables us to really understand applications, and this sees us lend on some of the most complex cases and thrive in an increasingly specialist market. But we’ve listened to the market, setting up online research communities to get feedback from both brokers and landlords, and we know that we can be seen as fussy by brokers that haven’t worked with us much previously.

Just over 18 months ago, we embarked on a digital transformation programme that will see us become more data-driven, giving our staff the tools to ultimately make us more efficient, addressing many of the frustrations that brokers have helped us to pinpoint.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) will provide us with trusted data at the touch of a button. This will help to remove much of the labour-intensive work and, alongside other functionality such as workflow routing, will mean that staff time and expertise can be more effectively utilised, being focused on supporting brokers and landlords.

Using applications as an example, we’ll be able to provide landlords with certainty earlier on in the process, advising whether theirs is a case we can support or not. Then, customers will have fewer information and documentation requirements and time to offer will be reduced.  

To deliver this alongside a host of other efficiencies that will see us provide market-leading service, we’re developing a digital platform, built in-house and tailored to meet the needs of our stakeholders.

Having such broad scope, the platform is an interface for a large and complex system, so we’ve broken up the development into smaller elements. Working in this way has enabled us to experiment and get feedback at each stage so we have a clear view of what works and what doesn’t. It will also see us incrementally roll out different aspects of the programme, our enhanced portal is an example of this that brokers may already recognise.

And while we’re excited to reveal all of the other aspects of the project, we recognise that the pace at which technology evolves means we can’t then sit back admiring our hard work. Instead, the project’s spirit of continuous improvement will need to remain as we transform the way we work to position Paragon for future growth.

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