Keeping up with customers and compliance

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Financial companies face a double challenge these days. On the one hand, companies handling money do as ever have to be stable and secure parts of the sector and the economy. But at the same time, there is an increasing demand also to be agile and innovative.

Technology is driving customers
The reason is technology and customers. ”IT must be perceived and managed as a strategic tool. It has to be flexible and cost efficient regarding administration and operations. But IT must also be a flexible tool when it comes to innovation and becoming more costumer oriented,” says Jesper Essendrop, CEO at Schantz A/S.
Digital technology has empowered the customer who nowadays is active on a number of platforms, where she or he can interact with a bank or an insurance company in real time. ”The customers’ demands for price, service and speed will continue to increase. That should be the premise for creating competitive customer relations in today’s market place.”
However, the CEO adds, the technological revolution we are encountering does not only pose challenges, but also opportunities. ”The relation to the customer is becoming ever more digital, and the data allows you to follow the customer across channels, enabling you to deliver a much more personalized and unique experience.”

Consistent customer experience across channels
The concept is called customer journey, a hot topic far beyond the world of finance. ”Basically, it is about adapting to customer’s purchasing process. From the initial considerations to dialogue to transaction. In each phase, the company makes sure to deliver information pertinent to that exact point on the customer’s journey.”
That way the customer has an experience of high and consistent quality, no matter what contact point was applied. The customer perceives the company as one, well functioning and reliable unit,” Jesper Essendrop explains.
But before this vision materializes, there are usually some hurdles in the way for financial companies that have been around for more than a decade. ”In order to follow the customer across channels, data needs to flow freely and efficiently across business entities. A significant part of the financial industry have traditional IT systems, some of it obsolete, and they do not support such a flow of data. That makes customer friendly solutions cumbersome and expensive. The result is often that very few resources are left for new developments to keep up with the customers.”

Standard solutions, constantly updating and improving
The key is to focus on the customer, not the technology. For instance, the ordinary retail banking client is different from the clientele in private banking, specialized in wealthy clients with complex financial conditions and demands. ”We developed our solution WealthPlan to service our clients’s specific needs, and by extension, the needs of their customers,” Jesper Essendrop says.
WealthPlan enables the private banking clients of Schantz to undertake a complete lifetime simulation. This constantly updated model shows income, consumption, property types, loans, retirement plans, businesses and other entitities in an overall tax scheme. The solution with a user friendly dashboard constitutes the basis for the other important part of the process, the personal dialogue with the client.
”As a starting point, it is very much about automation, to make processes more efficient and productive. But by the same token, you also need to constantly improve the solution, in order to keep up with technology and clients. That is why banks should consider standard solutions that are being continuously updated, in terms of technology and knowledge. Our standard solutions are improving all the time, in cooperation with our clients. A vital part of the process is the feedback we get from the wealth advisors. Their vast experience, but also what they learn from ongoing dialogues and sparring with clients.”

Reducing compliance costs
Digital technology is not only a life saver when it comes to customers. Compliance with regulations is an ongoing nightmare, and there are no signs of less regulation in the future. ”We have encountered companies where 75 per cent of the IT budget was spent on keeping up with legislation and ongoing maintenance. That is not a viable model. The solution is to use standard platforms where the solution provider takes responsbility for compliance and upgrades,” according to Jesper Essendrop.
That is how Schantz’ solutions work for pension companies, where IT is to support and coordinate operations, development, customer service, sales, and compliance. ”With standard solutions and automation processes, our pension clients have saved 30 per cent in resources. These assets can now be applied on important development rather than administration. 90 per cent of customer enquiries are dealt with the same day. The result is a customer satisfaction level 15 to 20 per cent above industry average.”

Attention at the highest level
The challenges and opportunities of new technology require attention at the highest level. ”Our experience from talking to clients in the market is an increasing awareness among top management that technology must be an important priority, and even more important tomorrow. You do not need a technical background, but you need to understand the business implications of digital technology,” Jesper Essendrop explains.
However, the executive cannot do it alone, but needs support from other people with knowledge and insights.
”The rules are changing, you need to understand technology to do business. But you also need to be surrounded by people who comprehend what is going on. Individuals and entities that can grasp the impact of the technology and put that into a strategic business context.”
Such valuable resources can be found within or outside the company. ”The organization probably contains some hidden talent that has not been exposed in this new era. The trick is to know what you are looking for. On the other hand, you are also dependent on having the right expertise on the outside. You need providers that are familiar with all aspects of the business, from technology to customers, and have updated knowledge on what is actually going on in the financial industry.”

European Award for cost reduction and user experience
The pensions industry is no longer slow to change or embrace new technologies. This according to the international magazine European Pensions at the annual awards ceremony. Schantz was awarded ”Pensions Technology Provider of the Year for the Danish company’s solutions to leading companies within life and pension. The judges were particularly impressed with the range of products available by Schantz, with specific attention to cost reduction and user friendly interfaces in their services. Schantz solutions are adapted to individual client needs. The client list includes DIP, the Danish pension fund for engineers, where Schantz created a unique customer platform that provides clear communication and a variety of self-service options.  As a result, DIP is able to answer 90 per cent of all enquiries the same day, has increased the customer satisfaction with 20 per cent, and also added 20 per cent new customers, without adding additional staff.
Read the whole case story here
Source: European Pensions Awards.

About Schantz
Schantz has specialized in finance and IT for more than two decades. We employ more than 160 highly qualified consultants with expertise in fields ranging from computing, mathematics, actuarial science, analytics to business. Schantz is headquartered in Copenhagen, and since 2007 an independent subsidiary of BEC. Schantz clients include among others Skandia, Topdanmark, Handelsbanken and Nordea.

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