Faith asked me earlier to share some thoughts on collaboration and why it matters so much here. Here goes...
Our purpose is to democratise financial services and we try to do that by providing the platform and the connections to the tools, the talent and the content advisers need to deliver great client outcomes. This is a complex task but one that can be radically simplified through collaboration with our users. The Nucleus wrap has almost entirely been designed from the perspective of a user. Or more accurately from the perspective of several users.
When we were getting started we were never going to have access to the same resources as some of the deep-pocketed legacy providers that we expected to compete with. So we had to think differently. We were also extremely interested in why advisers might choose a platform over which they had no individual or collective influence. This seemed so important (still does) as the cost of developing unwanted technology or linking to redundant products would only ever be borne by one person, i.e. the customer. It seems to me that those platforms which have ‘invested’ £150m or even £250m to build platforms have largely done so unwisely and this largesse will naturally lead to a competitive disadvantage over time. It’s notable that these are the same firms who also spend a lot of time trying to punt their in-house funds, presumably to start to recover some of their sunk costs.
We thought collaborating to build something that people really wanted from a platform was a better approach. That way we wouldn’t have to pander to my preferences or to those of our technology or sales teams. in the early days it was easy as we only had a handful of firms using the platform. Now there are more than 400 it is harder to manage our collaborative model. That could take us down two paths, one in which we become the same as everyone else or one in which we invest more than ever to converse with our audience and capture, distil and debate the various priorities. At the moment of writing we have 273 requests for enhancements, the vast majority of which have been requested by users.
These have been captured from our platform development group and from our user sessions, from what we pick up from the regional practice development groups, and from the less structured input users share with us every day – each little item on our list is a direct reflection of at least one user’s insight.
We may never get around to the 273rd but we do operate on the basis that we plan to get there. And we’ll make mistakes – maybe we’ll misunderstand the requirement or only be able to do half of it but the direction is clear.
We want to exhibit the kind of behaviour that leads us to become our users' most valued and trusted collaborator.
I’m a huge fan of (and have been greatly influenced by) Seth Godin. He puts it like this:
"All our productivity, leverage and insight comes from being part of a community, not apart from it. The goal, I think, is to figure out how to become more dependent, not less."
Sounds good to me.