In the lead-up to the 2022 Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards, we have featured an outstanding innovation each month. This month Bank of Ireland (BoI) is in the spotlight, with a Digital Wealth Advice Platform that is transforming how financial advice is delivered to customers. This truly hybrid omni-channel digital model gives customers personalized, regulated advice that empowers them to make better financial decisions and puts them in control of their financial future.
Seán Ó Murchú, Commercial Director, New Ireland, Wealth & Insurance, Bank of Ireland Group says, “At Bank of Ireland, our customers’ Financial Wellbeing is our priority. Financial Wellbeing is about having the confidence to manage your money, to plan for your future and to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected. The best Financial Advice is critical to that Financial well-being.”
Historically, financial advisors, operating on a face-to-face basis with customers, were the basis of the Wealth process across the industry. This Model is underpinned by paper and labour-intensive back-office functions, typically supported by disparate IT systems. It is expensive to deliver and is not scalable. However, consumer needs are changing.
“Consumers are now regularly using digital tools for many of their daily banking, shopping and entertainment needs. They want to complete simple financial planning transactions online, to easily access information, and to be supported, as appropriate through technology or by advisers, depending on the complexity of their requirements,” says Seán.
The introduction of the new cutting-edge BoI Digital Wealth Advice Platform ensures that customers get the best financial advice through the channel that suits them best, be that face-to-face with an expert advisor, over the phone, or by digitally self-serving. Research supports this, illustrating that better customer journeys correlate strongly with faster revenue growth while lowering the cost to serve.
However, while delivering an advanced omni-channel customer experience may be ideal, it needs to be executed strategically, and with intention. To be the partner of choice of customers and to maximise efficiencies going forward, BoI continues to foster a digital culture that supports their vision of being a digital wealth business. They are performing this through a Digital Transformation programme, which will help result in the enablement of digital, real-time, integrated end-to-end capability for our customer’s Financial Wellbeing and service.
This digital transformation is redefining the status quo on who qualifies to disrupt in the financial services industry. Some assume that only disruptors, such as small fintechs, can take advantage of the gap created in the market by global forces, but, there is no reason why established institutions like BoI cannot also disrupt the market with an agile, innovative approach.
Seán adds, “We partnered with Ignition Advice to create the platform, a relationship which was critical to delivering the platform and meeting the needs of our customers, 10,000 of whom had registered shortly after the launch. The result is a platform that is channel-agnostic, in that we provide consistent financial advice to customers via the channel of their choosing. This empowers the customer to drive their own Financial Wellbeing through best-in-class advice delivered via a truly customer-focused hybrid model.”
Yet how were decision-making opportunities built into the platform? Seán explains, “The Bank has leveraged the data our customers have shared with us to provide them with focussed, relevant information on aspects of financial advice and Financial Wellbeing that are specifically relevant to them. For example, the customer can, following a digital fact find and subject to business rules, set up a regular premium savings plan or a single premium lump-sum investment on a completely self-service basis. However, at any point in the process, they can elect to engage with a Financial Advisor via the platform, over the phone, or face-to-face. Similarly, where the customer journey takes them outside of our business rules, we direct them to one of our Financial Advisors. The Advisor-assisted functionality of the platform enables Advisors actively engage with customers via the platform in meeting their financial needs across Retirement and Investment solutions and supports the provision of regulated financial advice across a range of products. This provides Advisors with the capability to complete end-to-end advice journeys digitally with their customers.”
Unsurprisingly, independent customer research shows that the response to the user experience of the platform has been positive. From the first phase of the project launched, the direct-to-customer (self-service) Savings & Investment has seen c.10,000 customer registrations and significant new business volumes. Already a significant proportion of BoI’s Wealth new business is now being delivered digitally via the platform and via its complementary phone-based direct team. This is a seismic shift from the traditional industry customer proposition which only provided a face-to-face engagement with an advisor over multiple meetings.
Seán concludes, “Bank of Ireland is committed to becoming a truly digital Wealth business, through leveraging digital, innovative, agile approaches to meet ever-evolving customer expectations. Today, our Digital Wealth Advice Platform provides the appropriate combination of technology and support from advisers, enhancing our customer interactions through a single advice platform, which has had a transformational impact on the Irish market.”
This is a fantastic example of customer-centric, omni-channel engagement that improves the overall financial wellbeing of consumers.