Founder and CEO of Exizent Nick Cousins has taken some time to speak to the readers of Today’s Wills and Probate, explaining who and what Exizent are.
Tell us a little about where Exizent has come from and what you’re looking to achieve?
Exizent came from personal experience of bereavement, and the fact that the current processes seemed inefficient and over complicated for all those involved. Having been through the process ourselves, and seeing friends and family also struggling with processing someone’s estate, we wanted to make it better.
We believe that in the era of digital communication, the bereavement process can be made more efficient, quicker and more secure. Exizent’s aims are to create a better connection for the data, processes and network of people involved when someone passes away.
In 2020, our key focus was to bring together a highly skilled team and develop the first release of our dedicated legal services software. This innovative platform puts everything in one place, making it easier for legal services firms and institutions to work together to sort out what is needed, easing the burden on executors and families.
We have a strong commitment to service design, and the platform is always in active development, ensuring we continue to meet user needs. So, in 2021, we’re using the foundation we have built to develop the software further, working with financial institutions to improve connection and deliver additional value on all sides of the platform.
You’ve run some surveys recently.. what are you learning through those?
The bereavement process can be lengthy, repetitive, and complicated. By creating the first-ever platform that connects the network of people involved when someone passes away, we aim to reduce uncertainty, increase speed, and ultimately, make everything far simpler for everyone.
But, in order to get it right, it is absolutely vital that we gain as much insight as we can from the UK’s leading law firms on the challenges surrounding the probate process as it currently is.
For the past two years, we have been engaging with a community of legal services professionals who all deal with estate administration. One of the key themes that has come out of our research is the level of frustration around how long it takes to administer an estate.
We wanted to explore this issue further, so, in partnership with Todays Wills & Probate, commissioned Probate Prospects to seek views from the broader legal community and find out more about what it’s like operating in this space.
We asked 72 legal professionals a range of questions about their current probate processes to enabled us to delve deeper into the issues they face and pinpoint the areas that are in most need of improvement.
Furthermore, due to the timing of the research, we were also able to ask respondents if the pandemic had exacerbated things – 73% said it had.
It is regular research like this that helps us to identify our key roles in resolving these pain points.
What has the response from around the industry been to what you’re trying to achieve
Legal professionals know that the current process is labour intensive; our research found that just 7% felt it was as efficient as it could be while only a third felt the time it takes to prepare grant of probate is ‘reasonable’.
Legal firms have been promised innovation in this space previously, but nothing of great merit has materialised, and certainly nothing that can tangibly be rolled out across the sector. As a result, the industry response – from both law firms and financial institutions – has been incredibly positive and optimistic. They are supportive of what we are doing because they know the current system is not fit for purpose and realise that technology has a big part to play in changing that.
Legal professionals also appreciate that Exizent can have a hugely positive impact on client experience. Not just from a time perspective, but also because it gives executors a quicker and easier way to get a financial picture of the estate, without having to go searching.
They can also see that as the platform continues to evolve, there are huge potential time and cost savings in terms of Inheritance Tax work and form completion, as well as helping practitioners find known and unknown accounts at banks and financial institutions.
In terms of the response to the platform itself, we have received a lot of positive feedback about the User Interface and general usability of the platform; a recent comment that sticks in my mind was “most other legal software is very 2003, Exizent is 2023.”
There has also been regular feedback that the Case Overview function makes it very easy for users to understand the estate of a particular case in a matter of seconds. People have been impressed by what is available ‘out of the box’ and how intuitive the interface is compared to other systems.
How is Exizent going to positively impact the daily lives of practitioners?
The platform will save legal professionals a huge amount of time, and therefore money, by generally reducing the amount of admin they must do on each case – manual work, re-keying of information, etc – enabling them to focus on solving problems and providing value to their clients.
The improved communication between law firms and financial institutions that the platform brings will also improve lead times, reduce timescales, and give more clarity on assets, which in turn, leads to improved customer satisfaction. This of course gives any law firm using Exizent a competitive advantage amongst rival probate practitioners.
What are the plans for 2021?
Exizent is in active development with new services and features released regularly, guided by customer and market research, and our service design approach. So, throughout 2021 we will continue to add features and integrate more partner services into the platform.
Specifically, we will expand on our integration work with financial institutions to improve connectivity within the platform and help bring the market closer together. We will also be collaborating on a big project with a building society to improve specific issues around notification when an account holder has passed away, which will be a hugely important function within the system once fully integrated.