At True Potential, we don’t just focus our efforts on the monetary aspects of financial services, but we also have an entire development team based in-house that work tirelessly to create technology that is simple, effective and unique.
Our technology has won multiple awards, year-on-year as no-other company has managed to recreate it. We’re most proud of our world-first top up technology, impulseSave® that each of our clients are given access to. Daniel Harrison, our Head of Technology discusses how we manage to create such pioneering technology.
Please tell us a little about your background/expertise in the technology industry
My first job was with Positive Solutions, which I joined when it was just a year old. I accepted this employment rather than go to university as I felt it could give me more experience and a deeper knowledge into the industry.
I had a dual role at Positive Solutions – one part was working with the tech team as IT support to advisers on fact-finding and the back office system, and the other was as a Developer working on the websites and updating fact finds online.
What does your role of Head of Development involve and what do you enjoy most about this?
True Potential is a complex organisation with 3-4 disciplines, hence it being quite different to other firms. We have three key areas to focus on which are the Financial Advisers, the platform and most importantly, the end-client.
I see my role as to not get in the way of the team who excel in their fields. My job is to organise the team and brief them on what is required so they can go away and build the best solution possible. This is what I most enjoy, giving the team the brief and watching them, from a distance, continue to create award-winning technology.
Why did True Potential decide to hold their development team in-house rather than outsource?
Control. We require this control so we can be in charge of our own technology and be master of our own destiny. Having our tech in-house means no waiting on third parties. It means we can build faster and innovate easier. This can take time when having to translate to an outsourced company.
It was a big decision for us to hold our development team in-house, but the right one. It is the second largest department in the company and the largest in terms of wages.
What technology do you offer clients and why is this necessary for their investments?
We offer clients a consolidated picture of their holdings as well as any bank accounts and assets and liabilities they may have. No-one else gives their client’s the capability of seeing all of their holdings in the palm of their hand as a super view, via a mobile or tablet device.
We’re also transparent as we allow clients to track their investments 24/7, and most importantly against their financial goal. We fully believe that by tracking a financial goal and having the power to top up an investment via impulseSave®, puts the client in control of their own finances. In fact, to date there have been around 20,000 impulseSaves made with 10% being over £10,000 and 50% being below £50. This shows that not only is our top up tech popular, but clients are clearly using it for both small and large payments.
How many members of staff are there in the Development Team? Are you planning on expanding this?
Currently, there are around 30 in total who cover all the essential disciplines such as DBAS (Database Administrator), web development, UX design and mobile design. We would love to expand our team, but we’re rather particular with who we choose to employ. Not only do we require our staff to be fully competent, but they must fit in with the rest of the True Potential staff, in particular our development team.
We also run an academy in which we currently have three apprentices. Generally the duration of the apprenticeship will last between either 6, 12 or 18 months in order to bring them up to speed. This mix of young talent bringing new ideas to the fold combined with our older employees with their experience, creates a great fusion that clearly works well.
What makes the Development team at True Potential unique?
The majority of our team have worked with us for a long time. They are aware of everything that is happening in the entire company as well as what is in the pipeline, so they really feel part of the company as a whole. The old stereotype of development teams was that they were segregated from other departments and therefore not involved. We make sure that the members of our dev team attend meetings with other key players of the business.
The environment in which they work is different to most development departments, and we find this helps them in their daily work. The dev team are based in what we call our Innovation Hub that is open and spacious. We regularly move them around as for each project they will work in sprint teams of around 4-8 people. This shifting around means that they don’t always sit next to their friends giving them more opportunity to get to know the rest of the team well.
What plans do you have in the pipeline? Is there any new tech coming our way?
We have recently launched our True Potential Portfolios to the whole of the market. This gave our development team just six weeks to build the platform from scratch. This would usually take months or even years to do and so was a great test of agility for the team. We are aware that there are a few tweaks needed to the product, but we prefer to launch a product and then speak to the market about what is and isn’t working for them so we can then make the product perfect.
We’ll next be focusing on the investment side – how advisers interact with firms and clients. Not only this, but 6-7 months ago we rebuilt our client site and are already rebuilding this to add improvements for our clients.
Are there any other interesting facts about our Development team that you think clients would like to know?
Most of our team are from the North East, however we’re not just a ‘Geordie’ company as we do have numerous members of the team who joined us as they went to one of the four local universities or moved to the local area. There is also a range of ages from 18-19 year olds to the eldest being in their 50s bringing a variety of experience to the table.
Not all of our team necessarily went to university, as we discussed earlier, we take on several apprentices throughout the year.
The retention in our team is high with team members working with us from being apprentices and are still here 11/12 years later. This is a good testament to the team fusing old and new together.
As Daniel has stated, our development team excel in a range of disciplines and each bring with them skills and experience to create a team that we can be excited about.