Thursday, 26 March 2015

Veyo - A Trojan Horse?

The Veyo PR train continues to gain momentum with the bold announcement the week of attracting ‘orders’ in its yet to be released on line case management system from ’47 %’ of the conveyancing fraternity. 

Talking in the Law Society publication - Law Society Gazette - Stefanie van den Haak, commercial director of Veyo, said: ’The number of enquiries since the pricing was announced has been phenomenal but we are not complacent. We know we are offering something that is unique and we need to continue to promote our USPs. We are keen that conveyancers see for themselves that there is nothing comparable in the market.’

Going on record, and claiming such a significant number of potential customers is a bold step, and one which will either herald the onset of a conveyancing revolution or the start of a slippery slope for those investors behind the product, which includes of course the Law Society.   Ten million of pounds is a large sum of money to gamble, and on top of this also lies the professional reputation o a body which has been representing  and governing the interests of solicitors since 1875. 

So where does the truth lie?  Are conveyancers flocking to offer support for the product or is it the consequence of a well managed and orchestrated PR machine?  There is no doubt that Veyo has succeeded in the promotion of its brand as well as making Veyo a hot topic for discussion.   Hats off to Miss Vanden Haak and her team.  Even though much of the discussion has focused on negative features of the product, the fact is that any publicity whether it be good or bad must be a welcome outcome for Veyo.   

So in answer to the question, I very much doubt that half of the conveyancing businesses in the Country have ‘signed up’ or even at the very least registered an interest with Veyo.  I suggest the  claim is nothing other than ‘sales talk’ designed to appeal to our inherent sheep  gene.   If there is any truth in the figure it must represent a measure of the level of curiosity that  clearly  exists. Its out there in abundance. Curiosity however is one thing, from an investors point view hard cash is all that counts.  

One must also question the perimeters of the basis on which the claim is made.  The Land Registry has over 7000 firms registered with conveyancing interest.  So does this mean Veyo has received firm orders from over 3000 businesses?  I say ‘orders’ because this is how it was stated in the press release. Sounds fanciful, but clearly would if true, represent an epic achievement on the part of Veyo’s sales team.  

One should also ask how many completions do these 47% of conveyancing businesses produce each year, and what percentage of the overall completions number for all firms does this represent.  Keep in mind that the top 200 conveyancing business have around a 36% to 40% share of the market. 

I can understand why there is a need  for the statement to be made when the commercial success of Veyo hinges precariously on the products purported unique selling point.  Indeed Miss Vanden Haak makes specific reference to the importance of this in her statement.   So what is the USP?  Difficult to tell at this stage but it seems to centre around a ‘chain matrix’ and a ‘deal room’.   These features may explain why Veyo needs to convince us all that it already has accumulated critical mass since without this the product losses its USP.  It is as simple as that.  What is the point of singing up and parting with you hard earned cash if all you  are left with is an incomplete picture of a transactional chain?   The Land Registry spent  millions of pounds on a similar project which it then had to abandon in 2009 because of lack of interest. I am not sure why Veyo believes the market will take a different view now, especially when it will involve having to hand over money for the privilege. 

Only time will tell if the statement is true or not.  One thing is for sure that even with 47% of conveyancers as users this still means there are 53% who are currently not interested and unless these firms can be won over the platform and its USP will become meaningless.   

Just a thought.  If you were an investor in Veyo I am sure you would be thinking of Plan B to cover the prospect of the product nose diving.   It seems obvious to me that one plan B must be for Veyo to enter the market as a business offering a conveyancing service of its own. It already has the profile and brand awareness as well as, if you believe the hype, cut throat technology.  A trojan horse in the making.   The only thing that would prevent this from happening is its commercial tie with the Law Society.  Now that would be a story! 

Morgan Jones and Pett are solicitors who provide legal advice and services to clients based in England and Wales and who can be contacted on 01603877000 or via email at

Friday, 6 March 2015

Ten Reasons for the likely failure of Veyo

1.       Lack of Identity

I have made this point before, but despite the sea of negativity it has received, Veyo continues to be promoted without a clear and recognisable identity.  On one hand it says it is a case management system, but on the other, depending on the audience it is addressing, it says it is not. Despite recent announcements nobody, as far as I can see, is any the wiser as to what role Veyo will play in the conveyancing market when it is released. 

2.       Lack of USP

On the back of a lack of indemnity is the absence of a USP.  There is talk of a ‘Deal Room’ and of how this will promote collaboration between parties as well as a ‘Chain View’ allowing those involved in a chain to keep updated on progress of all of those involved in the chain of transactions.  A valid and brave objective, but how can it be sure that this will remain unique even if it proves practicable?  I know there are a number of well-established case management suppliers working hard at the moment to introduce similar features.  Once these become universal where will this leave the Veyo business model? Moreover, for this to prove to be a commercially successful USP, Veyo will need to see the vast majority of the 4,500 firms who undertake conveyancing to sign up to their promise of their conveyancing revolution.  Is that really going to happen? It will only take one party in the chain not to ‘buy in’ into the USP for the whole stack of cards to come crumbling down.

3.       Pricing

Why announce pricing before the product is available for viewing?   A £20 per transaction price tag seems on the face of it to be reasonable, but until we know what we will be getting for it, how can this be objectively judged. Furthermore, if this is going to be the price for both small and large providers, do Veyo really believe that the main players in the market are going to pay for a service over and above their existing services, which is unlikely in reality to add anything of real benefit?  The top five national conveyancers completed in January on around 7284 purchase/re-mortgage transactions (Land Registry Data). On top of this they would have also completed on around 3500 sale transactions.     So take as a monthly figure of transactions of 10,000, and apply to this the £20 transaction fee this would give a yearly financial commitment to Veyo if there were all to sign up, of a staggering £2400000.00!  How can this make commercial sense when for this money they could quite easily invest in similar enhancements to their existing systems!  The reality is that it will perhaps only be those who are doing a moderate amount of conveyancing work that may be persuaded to pay the fee.  The question is whether this type of take up would be enough to satisfy Veyo’s shareholders. Only the accumulation of critical mass will be its saviour.

4.       Not making the system free of charge

This ties in with three above, but represents a massive commercial mistake on the part of Veyo.  By making the system free, at least for a trial period, would have given practitioners the opportunity to evaluate the benefits of the system, and to be persuaded or otherwise by its features.  This would at least encourage those with curiosity to take a look.   Veyo could by making it free to join look to make money on the resale within the platform of third party services, by allowing for example search providers to offer the platform as an added value product. 

5.       Lack of reality on the  success of engagement with existing case management providers

Reality will dictate that existing case management suppliers will not sit back and allow Veyo to step in and eat into their market shares without a fight.  Why should they?  Until Veyo announces and clarifies the benefits of integration and offers to underwrite the cost of this, so that the practitioner has to pay for it, why would a CMS wish to hook up with the system of a competitor?  Unless I am missing something fundamental I just do not see how and why Veyo believes practitioners will be knocking the door down of their CMS providers to integrate.

6.       Underestimating the level of desire for practitioners to engage with forward looking technology.

If Veyo delivers what it says it will, is there a critical mass of conveyancers out there who will be prepared to change the way in which they work to encompass the vision of online collaboration and online engagement with clients and estate agents?  I doubt it.  Conveyancers are in the main traditionalists who, even if there was no charge for accessing the system, would still hesitate to sign up to a method of work which remains for a vast number, alien.   There needs to be major shift in outlook of use of technology,  which I do not consider currently exists within the profession. 

7.       Focusing too much on the consumer and not the practitioner

Much of the PR surround Veyo has focused on a campaign aimed at the consumer.  Veyo appear to be of the view that if they can present a picture to the consumer that Veyo will provide the answer to the dissatisfaction many consumers have about delay when selling and buying a property, this will force the consumer only to use a conveyancer who uses Veyo.  The logic behind this vision is that consumer demand will then leave conveyancers with no option but to buy into Veyo.  I believe this to be a misplaced vision because it is clear that although consumers would like to see transactions moving more quickly most home movers are more interested in factors like price, locality of the conveyancer and reputation.  I really can’t see a home mover turning down a quote from a competent conveyancer just because that conveyancer is not a customer of Veyo.  The Law Society should know from past campaigns involving its beloved CQS that there still remains an overwhelming proportion of home movers who have no idea what CQS stands for, let alone the benefits of engaging a firm who has the credential.

8.       Lack of clarity about mandating

Veyo continues to play its cards close to its chest on mandating and on the role it will adopt in the future in the delivery of the CQS accreditation.   There is one thing in life which has the effect of turning practitioners off and that is the thought of having to be forced to do something which they do not believe to be is in their best interests, or that of their clients.  Look at what happened to the mandating of home information packs and how the conveyancing industry rebelled against it.  No professional body should allow itself to make decisions about the affairs of their members which are commercially motivated.  Veyo has already said there will be no mandating but there remains scepticism and for as long as this remains there will clearly be a number of firms who will be holding back at this stage.

9.        Underestimating the future viability of Lender Exchange

Some may forget that we already have an established system used by the main lenders as a means of verifying panel members and for facilitating communication.   Veyo has said it is likely lenders will mandate Veyo.   By saying this they are blatantly ignoring the presence and success of the Lender Exchange and the fact that the lenders using it are probably tied into the system for a number of years in any event.   Unless Veyo can acquire critical mass in a very short time frame I really cannot see lenders contemplating the mandating of the system.  

10.     Arrogance  

    Practitioners need engagement to feel that they are part of something and have helped develop it.   Despite claims to the contrary Veyo has developed a product without meaningful recourse to the profession and the suppliers of CMS.   This has created a huge amount of resentment and negativity, and even though Veyo has started to open up and engage it may be the case that this has happened far too late in the day for the damage to be repaired.   Nobody likes arrogance and it will take some time this perception of Veyo’s approach to fade.  The golden question is that does Veyo have enough money in the bank to ride out the storm of negativity which continues to brew and blow strong.   

Morgan Jones and Pett are solicitors who provide legal advice and services to clients based in England and Wales and who can be contacted on 01603877000 or via email at