Claire Court is Business Development Director at Delta Financial Systems, a company acquired by Bravura in October 2020
Where it all began…
I’m not sure that anyone goes into the pensions industry by choice. I left school at 16 and joined Confederation Life as a pensions clerk in the Group Pensions Department, running what were then termed as final salary and money purchase schemes, along with a very complicated (and generous!) in-house final salary pension scheme.
In those days everything was done manually, there was little technology other than a clunky calculator (and my beloved compound interest tables…) to rely on and certainly no computers on desks; just one main-frame terminal in the corner of the office. It was fantastic grounding for what I call ‘the why’ as well as ‘the how’ that has stood me in great stead throughout my career.
Some years later I joined an IFA in Milton Keynes, running their SSAS business, which we later merged into a London firm, which was then in turn acquired by Aegon and merged with other firms to form Origen – they were such exciting times.
At Origen we used Delta’s SIPP~Pro and SSAS~Pro software, and I got to know the founders of Delta very well. It was a natural move to then work for Delta, which at that time was a relatively small, but rapidly growing business. I spent my first few years at Delta with our diverse range of customers, using my extensive domain experience to show them how they could make best use of our technology to drive operational efficiencies and reduce risk, as well as working with the other directors to embed the corporate structure and people processes which then enabled us to become the business that we are now.
Delta’s customers and experience
Whilst the tech industry has a reputation for being hip and funky, our clients’ businesses are heavily regulated, and they rely on Delta to deliver technology that’s fit for purpose. Over half of Delta’s team have worked for our customers or firms like them and we therefore have a unique understanding of not only the regulatory backdrop, but the day-to-day commercial reality of running a SIPP or SSAS business. Delta’s aim is to deliver great technology to every single customer and to add significant value to their businesses by leveraging our extensive domain experience.
Delta’s reputation for delivering robust, compliant and process driven complex pensions technology, underpinned by this deep domain experience was the key reason why Delta was so attractive to Bravura as an acquisition – and a perfect complementary fit for their stable of market leading solutions.
Where is the pensions market going?
Throughout my career, there have been some pivotal moments in the UK pension industry, with A-Day and the introduction of Pension Freedoms to name just a few. This has driven a constantly changing and innovating pensions market that provides significant opportunities for many of Delta’s customers.
Auto-enrolment and the rise of master trusts means that there are now over 40m people saving for their retirement. This, coupled with Pensions Freedoms, means that everyone has a choice about how and when they draw their retirement benefits, meaning that Delta’s drawdown technology is in high demand, often integrated with other systems via its APIs.
For the end consumer, digital is everything. People increasingly like to self-serve – SIPP investors for example, want to access information, be given tools to make decisions and then they want to implement these decisions digitally. We are releasing iFreedom – our new digital portal which puts the power in the hands of the end client or their adviser in May 2021.
When it comes to financial advice not everyone is sufficiently informed to make complex financial decisions; I therefore think that robo advice and finding new ways of delivering advice to those who cannot afford to pay high advice fees is also going to be important.
In terms of other future trends, despite the original intentions of pensions simplification, I don’t believe regulation will ever get any simpler, and in fact to protect the outcome of the end consumer you could argue that it shouldn’t be that simple! This is where Delta and Bravura are well-positioned – providing powerful technology that underpins and empowers consumers and their advisers to secure their long-term financial futures.