James Slevin – Business Development Manager, Delta Financial Systems.
I’m originally from Cheltenham, but I’m a bit of a journeyman and have lived in several places across the UK before finally settling in the historic market town of Taunton, Somerset, which is a brilliant place to raise our family.
I first entered the world of finance in the mortgage space, working at Chelsea Building Society, before moving on to Deutsche Bank, Bank of Ireland, BNP Paribas and Coutts, in various roles and capacities.
In 2014, I joined Iress as an analyst, where I worked my way up to lead a team of eight, mainly responsible for finding new ways for mortgage lenders to upload mortgage products more efficiently.
Looking back, this was a hugely formative role for me personally, and my team was able to deliver strong and consistent organic growth across our main accounts.
It felt only natural that I moved into a purely sales-focused role, and, after moving into the pensions technology sector with CTC Software, I helped the business break into new markets.
I joined Delta Financial Systems at the start of March 2022, but it feels like I’ve been part of the Delta family for much longer.
I have been truly blown away by the amount of hands-on SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pensions) and SSAS (Small Self-Administered Scheme) expertise in the business, with a large proportion of our team having literally hundreds of years of combined experience working for self-administered pension providers.
At Delta, my role focuses on growing our sales pipeline with Platinum~Pro opportunities in the SIPP and SSAS markets. It’s a particularly interesting time to be involved in the industry against a backdrop of continued consolidation and ever-increasing regulation, which makes Delta’s mission to help our clients make even better use of technology to alleviate some of this burden even more relevant.
Whilst the number of SIPP and SSAS providers in the market has fallen over time due to consolidation, Delta’s client numbers and AUM have consistently grown, and there continues to be a number of firms buying and selling books of business in this space.
Our pension administration technology is used by a high proportion of the firms that operate in these markets and is still growing. We aim to build strong and meaningful long-term partnerships with our clients, ultimately becoming a highly valued member of their delivery team. In fact, the relationship management function is the strongest I have seen in my career, and I am really pleased to see how much great client outcomes matter to our people, as this is something I feel very passionate about.
Our 27-year track record of always delivering is something that we are all very proud of at Delta and over this time we’ve seen witnessed many changes to the pensions industry and dealt with countless regulation updates with tight delivery timescales, at no additional cost to our clients.
Getting ready for the biggest change in UK pensions for a generation
Additionally, a lot of my time so far has been spent as the sales lead on our Pensions Dashboards project.
With pensions providers of all shapes and sizes being mandated by the UK government to connect to the UK’s Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) – a digital ecosystem where people will be able to find and view all their pensions pots in one place – every provider will feel the strain this new regulation brings to the industry.
This includes providers having to decide if they are going to build their own connection or use an ISP (Integrated Service Provider) for the connection to the central infrastructure. Firms will also have to get their data ‘dashboards ready’, meaning potentially millions of member records will need to be cleansed and of ‘good quality’ to avoid any potential fines.
Given the collective power and expertise of Delta and Bravura in delivering secure, robust and resilient systems for some of the world’s leading financial institutions, we instantly knew how transformational pensions dashboards will be to the pensions sector and how the programme will act as a vital stepping stone towards more effective transformation.
So, in early 2022 we decided to pool our collective knowledge together and build and launch to market a pensions dashboards ISP, Dashboards Connect, which schemes, providers and third-party administrators (TPAs) can use to connect to the ecosystem.
Currently, we are well ahead in our build and part of the ‘Early Adopter Group’ and are awaiting confirmation from the PDP for a date of connection. We built our own commercial dashboard prototype to test the full connection and have been able to demo that for the past four months.
We’re already seeing real traction with the rest of the market due to the reliability and scale we offer.
But, with platforms, pension providers, TPAs and schemes under a raft of regulatory pressure this year, including Consumer Duty, there’s a real need for the industry to come together to make connection as stress free as possible.
To this end, Bravura and Delta recently teamed up with leading tracing firm Target Professional Services and its sister company mypensionID to offer an end-to-end solution for UK pensions providers looking to onboard to the forthcoming pensions dashboards ecosystem.
I love the variety that selling multiple software solutions brings to my role and no one conversation is the same, as every firm has different considerations or questions about the regulation. I want any client that I am interacting with, either existing or new, to feel like they are in a partnership and that they have a business development manager that is proactive, commercially focused and who ultimately looks out for them.
What is in store for the rest of 2023?
There will likely be further consolidation in the self-administered pension market and having the right technology partner will be vital to make sure firms remain compliant and profitable.
Ultimately, if a system can no longer cope with regulatory and client-led demands, a provider will see their margins eroded. Because of this pressure, we’ll start seeing a growing number of providers building solid business cases to select their tech partners not just on cost, but also on their continued dedication to operational efficiency and the guarantee their clients and introducers have a great experience.
There are a number of valuable enhancements of our technology planned in for the rest of 2023 and beyond and we are keeping close to market trends and customer feedback to ensure we have the best administration technology available in the market.
We’re also full speed ahead helping clients connect to the PDP ecosystem when the new staging deadlines are announced by the PDP later this year. Our solution is built and once we have a few details from the PDP, we will enter a period of final testing before dashboards become public facing.
Longer term, connection to the pensions dashboards is really just the start of its potential impact. We’re also working with, and in some cases challenging, our clients and the industry at large, including the regulators, to use dashboards to encourage innovation and re-imagine the sector for the better.