Progeny is the first firm in the UK to bring together independent financial planning, asset management, tax, human resources, and private and corporate legal services. For this week’s Ask the CTO, Tim Thompson-Rye talks us through how the firm has organised its technology.
Describe your role in one sentence
I lead a team of 17 to build technology that enriches the relationships between clients and their advisers.
What is in your tech stack?
Progeny brings together independent financial planning, asset management, tax, HR, and private and corporate legal services under one roof. Historically, this led to our tech stack being siloed, with each part of the business having its own segregated stack. This made it more difficult to offer clients a holistic service in line with our value proposition. A big part of the reason my team was created was to break down these silos and enable the business to work together as one.
On the financial planning side of the business we currently use Intelliflo, MoneyInfo, Oxford Risk, Voyant, Fastrak, Virtual Cabinet, FE Analytics and SmartSearch. Elsewhere in the business we also use Xplan, Peppermint (a legal client relationship management/practice management software) and HubSpot (a marketing platform).
However, we’re in the process of replacing core parts of this legacy collection, rebuilding the foundations of the business on the Microsoft tech stack. We’re deploying Microsoft Dynamics 365 across the business to offer us a single view of the client, and already leveraging other parts of the Microsoft ecosystem such as Power BI, Power Automate and Azure Synapse Analytics (a data warehousing solution). All of this will enable us to generate value from our data, operate more efficiently, and ultimately deliver the best possible client experience.
What is your favourite tech tool and why is it great for your firm?
I’m going to cheat and choose two.
On the client-facing side, it would have to be Voyant. I spent yesterday with a large group of our financial planners and the consistent feedback was that cashflow planning is the most important and potentially life-changing part of what we do for clients. The ability to develop a plan live alongside a client creates lightbulb moments, and it’s at times like these that I feel we are really delivering value. It’s the perfect example of technology enriching those adviser-client relationships.
In terms of how we run the business, Microsoft Power BI has been a game changer. We are fortunate to have four brilliant data analysts who, over the past 12 to 18 months, have transformed the way we use data within Progeny. We now have a collection of more than 20 multi-page interactive dashboards that collect data from across the various departments and summarise it, delivering insight that helps us to run our business and make better decisions. With our move to Dynamics 365, we’ll soon be able to do even more and have live dashboards covering every area of the business’s performance.
What is the best tech decision you have made?
The best decision has been to take technology seriously and truly invest in it. For whatever reason, technology has tended to be almost an afterthought in our industry and we’ve allowed ourselves to fall far behind other sectors in the way we use it. A couple of years ago, Progeny realised tech could be the game-changing element that could propel us into the future, allowing us to create a truly next-generation advice firm, so we started our journey to expand our resource from just one person to a team that is now 17 strong and growing.
Of course, digital transformation takes time, money, strategic long-term thinking and a lot of resilience, but we are lucky to have a leadership team, an internal team and external investors who realise the value that we can create by delivering an outstanding client experience.
What is the worst tech decision you have made?
Not starting sooner!
If you could invent one magic piece of tech, what would it be?
I’m a firm believer that just about anything can be done with technology if you apply enough thought and resource, so when it comes to tech I don’t really believe in magic.
Having said that, I think open finance and decentralised data have the potential to feel pretty magical to a client. The idea that a client could ‘tap a button’ and instantly give us access to a full dataset of their financial lives is quite compelling. It relies on trust of course, so relationship building in advance will be key, but through decentralisation the client could permanently retain ownership and control of their data. If we get it right, we should be able to pretty much eliminate the hard-fact-finding process, freeing up the adviser-client relationship to focus on what really matters to the client – their goals, ambitions, hopes, fears and dreams.