Looking forward into 2021

Published January 29, 2021

Richard Hepburn, Managing Director reflects on 2020 and looks to the future for M&B and our customers.

It is fair to say 2020 was a very different year for everybody; we communicated as we went into the first lockdown in March about how M&B was approaching the unprecedented challenge which COVID-19 presented, and how we planned to continue to serve customers whilst protecting the health and well-being of our team. As we start 2021 and sit in almost as restrictive a lockdown (albeit with light at the end of the tunnel in terms of vaccines), we wanted to bring you up to speed on how we fared and some of what we have planned for the coming 12 months. 

Looking Back 

Our immediate work in late March was simply to enable all of our team to be able to function effectively from home which was achieved, although 1/3 of staff had to combine the challenges of space, internet access and home schooling, which were problems many of us faced. We devoted time to supporting our customers and the market more generally through organising webinars, writing advice notes and providing assistance in dealing with the interim registration requirements from RoS whilst access to key registers were temporarily suspended. 

From the residential market reopening in late June, there was a steady build up of search demand as the ‘lost’ transactions from the trough of April/May/June came back, further fueled by the LBTT relief. As we entered lockdown M&B was a good way through a £1.3M programme to replace our core search production operating platform, with some products already on this, but also with some (including our high-volume Legal Reports) yet to be migrated over. Remote working slowed our roll-out further and we entered what turned out to be a period of significant demand on a split old/new platform which was not ideal and did lead to some operational delivery challenges in late November/early December. 

We were grateful for the support of our customers through this period, particularly when they were facing their own challenges due to client demand, remote working, disruption in normal lender processes and heightened levels of stress in the run up to what is always a busy time of year for both commercial and residential transactions. 

Into 2021 

With our internal systems re-platforming complete, 2021 sees us continuing our technology journey looking outwards to bring new features and services to benefit customers. We have been actively rebuilding and developing what is our MB Online portal to become the new “M&B Hub”, combining order management, information and knowledge sharing for our customers to have everything in one place. With some exciting new features which will be unique in the Scottish market, we believe this will change the way you interact with us, and what we can deliver to you. We will be sending out invites for early access to M&B Hub in April. Linked to this will be new order API interfaces which will allow firms or other systems (i.e. Case Management Systems) to interact seamlessly with M&B optimising workflows and improving efficiencies. 

A number of new products and initiatives for the Scottish market will also emerge from our being part of Landmark Information Group, with larger sister search businesses Searchflow and OneSearch Direct operating in the England & Wales market and responding to emerging market needs there. We are collaborating closely with OneSearch (based in Glasgow), who have 25 years’ experience in Local Authority searching, and as a result, we will be enhancing our PEC systems and PEC reports to bring further benefits to the local market here in the first half of 2021.