A couple of months ago, writes Mark Loosmore, he went to see the man behind what is popularly considered to be the best British gig of all time...
That gig wasn't Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger or Elton John. Nor was it anything to do with Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Stone Roses or Oasis. It wasn't even Shakin' Stevens.
No, I sent myself to Coventry in mid-October for a gig by Midge Ure, best known as the voice and the face of Ultravox.
What is often forgotten is that he was also the man behind Live Aid, the 1985 concert that was recently voted the best this country has ever seen. While Bob Geldof was shocking the nation with his sweary TV plea for more money, Midge was behind the scenes keeping it together.
He is credited with organising Live Aid (with which he is still involved as a trustee) and he co-wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?", still the second highest-charting single in UK history.
Midge - his real name, Jim, spoken backwards - made something of a career out of being the real power behind other people's glory. Remember the Visage song ‘Fade to grey', one of the big hits of the 1980s? That was Midge too, behind charismatic frontman Steve Strange.
That Visage was never the same once Midge left was a shame, but not a surprise. Because a great band, like any great organisation, is an organic entity that functions best when the different components dovetail effectively and work in harmony.
Sound familiar? Yes, I'm hinting about front and back office technology here. Stay with me…
A question I am often asked about our industry is whether the front or the back office is the most important. But the question ignores the key point - the front office works best when the back office is good too, and vice versa. In particular, there is not much point in companies spending vast sums on impressive front office functions without having a back office able to handle the business that comes in.
Overlooking the importance of the back office and investing only in the front office simply is not sustainable on any level. The front office tends to get more attention, and there are good reasons for that.
Clients only interact with functionality such as client portals and robo-advice services, so it's understandable that they are the parts that firms absolutely want to get right. At the same time, however, it is the back office functionality that allows advisers to use their time more effectively to deliver a better more efficient and profitable service to clients.
Adviser attitudes and approaches to back office systems can vary significantly. Some will see them as absolutely fundamental to their client proposition, using the full capability and integrating with other systems and parties. They will invest time and money in getting the best from their back office.
Others will use their back office systems primarily as admin platforms, with little integration and relatively little investment. Many will lie somewhere in between the two.
But whatever the approach, integration with front end technology has to be as seamless as possible if the firm is to get the best out of either the back or the front office.
Really good back office technology, such as financial planning tools, should also have the capability to move to the front office if required, just as our man Midge went off to front Ultravox and produce Vienna in the same year that Fade to Grey came out.
Midge and Steve Strange were quite different characters with different skills but they worked brilliantly together to produce great work.
The back office is about the functions that people don't see. It is where the heavy lifting goes on and keeps the show on the road. The front office is about using brilliant technology to deliver the proposition.
Much of the technology we interact with today was developed as either Back Office or Front Office. But things have changed, and the reality now is that businesses increasingly require software that delivers back office efficiency as well as front office presentation tools and client engagement.
Just like Bob and Steve needed Midge, the technology we use to deliver our financial services can be so much better when it works together.
Mark Loosmore is executive general manager (wealth) at Iress
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