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The value of online communities

Donna Hopton | Director at www.cherryplc.co.uk
|
13th October 2021
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"The pandemic has only served to increase the importance of online forums"

Over the years, traditional means of communicating between various parts of the industry haven’t been great. Intermediaries have had not had the means to ‘talk amongst themselves’, to share best practice and lessons learned, and new entrants to the industry have often felt alone and unsupported.

Consequently, issues between providers and intermediaries have relied largely on feedback and limited BDM contact.

However, the emergence of online forums has changed this for the better. Forums have facilitated easy communication and this has driven significant improvements. Intermediaries are able to compare notes, providers and advisers are able to talk directly to each other, new entrants to the industry are encouraged and assisted. Real progress has been made in recent years.

The pandemic has only served to increase the importance of online forums – providing a vital line of communication when many others have been closed off with many people having been forced to work from home, often isolating them from their own teams. It is now becoming increasingly apparent to us all, just how important remote, immediate, ongoing, stable communication is for brokers - and providers.

At cherry, we now have more and more providers using the forums – not only to promote their own offerings, but importantly, to listen to intermediaries and to make sure they know, in real time, what is going on. Using the Provider Forums means they can better understand what the ‘mood’ is at the sharp end of the market.

Through massive forum usage, we are moving swiftly to a situation where real up-down and down-up communication can positively affect product design, adviser support, and ultimately ensure that, as an industry, we continually improve what we do to attract and retain consumers as customers.

All of this undoubtedly helps the credibility of the financial services industry in the eyes of the public generally. It also helps to demonstrate that there are real, tangible reasons for consumers to speak to a professional adviser rather than to approach a provider directly.

This is something we take very seriously at cherry, and we work hard, alongside our PR company Square 1 Media, to raise the profile of professional advice and build better lines of communication not just within the industry, but also with our customers.

So, whatever your role in the industry, consider joining and taking an active role in a forum. In doing this, not only will you benefit your business, but you will also help to benefit the industry as a whole.

 

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