In association with Altis: the Altis conveyancing platform has the potential to ease client concerns over the property transfer process, as well as increasing business efficiency

A recent survey by BDO LLP, an Edinburgh accountancy and business advisory firm, revealed that 70% of Scottish law firm partners and senior partners believe that technology will have the greatest impact on their client relationships in the next five years, compared with 40% in the rest of the UK. BDO’s Law Firm Leadership Survey asked partners at 63 law firms across the UK how new technology could impact their relationship with their clients. Some of the major changes predicted include new methods of communication and more remote working. When it comes to younger clients, such as first-time buyers, it was believed they expect access to new technologies and apps. 

This corresponds with the results of a survey carried out by ESPC where 500 buyers and sellers in east central Scotland were asked their thoughts on the conveyancing process. Results showed that communication and transparency are the biggest concerns for clients when it comes to their relationship with their solicitor, and that clients often felt they had a lack of information from their legal team during the property buying and selling process. 

One in two respondents described the moving process as frustrating and stressful, while 18% told ESPC that they found it particularly frustrating and stressful dealing with their solicitor. For first-time buyers who are just beginning their property-buying journey, this stress can be compounded. Young buyers tend to place greater importance on access to digital tools and apps, and so any efforts to ease the process are likely to be welcome and valued.

Partnership approach

These findings demonstrate how technology is expected to be at the forefront of client relationships in the future, and Altis, as Scotland’s first online conveyancing system, is leading the charge in innovation. Altis is a joint venture between ESPC and BDP Estate Agency Software, and has been built in alliance with Scottish conveyancers to support digitisation and increase transparency and automation in the residential conveyancing process. The Law Society of Scotland also has a stake in the business. 

Paul Hilton, CEO of ESPC, says: “One of the reasons why we got involved with Altis is that we saw that our member firms could do with a conveyancing system that works with the Scottish market and allows them to be more efficient, so it becomes a better experience for the client. Altis also opens up the opportunity for remote working, and this flexibility is another of the major predicted changes in the survey of partners.”   

Appetite for change

Paul notes that in the focus groups carried out by ESPC: “While many respondents were satisfied with the conveyancing process, others described it as ‘horrible’, ‘expensive’, and ‘stressful’. It is often a nerve-wracking experience and they felt that solicitors didn’t keep them informed from the start, often having to chase to get updates. While solicitors have a difficult job to do, we believe that Altis can offer the client greater transparency and provide reassurance.”

Following legislative changes allowing solicitors to sign documents online and the introduction of the Law Society of Scotland smartcard, there has been an increased appetite for digitisation within the legal industry. Altis consolidates all these new digital opportunities into one. Altis allows increased transparency and efficiency between firms and their clients, because it provides a centralised document room that stores all files relating to the transaction.

“Altis is a groundbreaking development in the conveyancing industry,” says Jaime Hill, head of business development at Altis. “Designed to simplify and streamline the current conveyancing process, it is the first e-conveyancing software of its kind in Scotland. We believe that Altis is the future of Scottish conveyancing and that the platform has been developed to an award-winning standard.”

It's good to share

One of the challenges Jaime has found is a cautious resistance from solicitors around the client login. “The reason solicitors are wary of the client login is that they are worried they will overshare information with the client, but the login is really a way of reiterating the information. The client login is not a replacement for letters and emails, but another way for sharing in a user-friendly way.” 

It seems that transparency and communication are vital for good relationships between clients and their solicitors, and keeping your clients happy will lead to repeated business and referrals. Keeping on top of new technology and industry changes could offer a more communicative way of conveyancing.

Jaime Hill, Head of Business Development, Altis
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