Software development firm helps one of Middlesbrough’s oldest businesses

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11th December 2019

Digital transformation experts Sapere have helped to create a bright digital future for a business that has been part of the fabric of Middlesbrough since 1904.

Teesside lenders and savings providers Tees Mutual and Careys Personal Credit now have the digital foundation to help them grow for the next 100 years.

Following their work with Stockton-based Sapere, the companies have transformed their digital operations for the 21st century – without losing the personal touch that helped them become so well established.

The organisations, which are run by the same teams and share the same platform for managing members, work with the people of Teesside to provide financial solutions including short-term loans, savings plans and life insurance. They’ve been so pleased with the results of their initial £80k investment, which has delivered benefits for customers and staff alike, that they’re now looking to work with Sapere to create a self-serve area for their members.

Phil Carey, Chief Executive of Tees Mutual and Managing Partner at Careys Personal Credit, said: “With more than 10 years’ experience providing solutions for the financial sector, the team at Sapere are talented, professional and good fun to work alongside. We spent 40 hours with them detailing our specifications and I was extremely impressed with how well this was captured.

“They really understood the intricacies of our business and have helped improve the working environment for staff. The new digital system they’ve built has addressed the frustrations of our previous system, especially in reducing the duplication of tasks like scanning documents that are now automatically uploaded via an app.”

The new platform, which was developed over 18 months, replaced and streamlined around five manual systems used for everything from customer databases and loan progress to application procedures. It is fully automated and has reduced turnaround times for life insurance claims, helping reduce stress for grieving loved ones.

Phil added: “It’s a slick process now, providing a base to help us meet changing demands from regulators, and the evolving needs of customers, many of whom still prefer the face to face weekly collection process, while others prefer direct card payments they can carry out from their own home.”

Paul Drake, Operations Director of Sapere, whose other clients include Active Chartered Financial Planners, Verve Group and Corville Wealth Management, part of AFH Wealth Management, said: “It’s no surprise that in a 115-year-old business some of the systems needed a little updating. We wanted to remove the scope for error and create a piece of software that would ultimately offer significant time-saving for every member of the team.

“It was a challenge trying to streamline and retain the historic data, but technology enables companies to service their customers in a much more efficient way, which in turn gives the opportunity to make the business leaner, more accessible, and more profitable.

“Ultimately, the companies were keen to bring their operation into the digital age without losing their personal approach, something we’ve maintained in the system produced, which keeps everything in one place and allows client communication via email, text message and even WhatsApp.

“This means both firms can be more active in signposting customers to products and organisations that can help them, such as debt charities and bereavement counselling services.”