In this new technological world, businesses are targeting many more diverse customer groupings, including millennials as new entrants to the financial services sector. Digital transformation has seen firms such as First National Bank (FNB) Fiduciary digitise their solutions and change the way they offer their services. Chief Information Officer (CIO) of FNB Fiduciary, Jaco Coetzee, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Vijay Morarjee, recognize the importance of embracing new technology in order to maintain the brands ecosystem.
FNB’s Fiduciary believes in embracing innovative technologies. “We have the vision and energy to build on and develop customer centric innovations that drive our brand promise of ‘how can we help you’,” says Coetzee.
“Digital transformation is an ongoing process. It’s been a long journey to get to where we are now, but there is still a lot more to be done. It’s such a great feeling to reap the rewards when so many components start to converge.”
The segment operates as part of a division of FirstRand Bank Limited and is one of the largest financial institutions in the country. As a fiduciary, FNB has a legal responsibility to look after its customers with the Fiduciary division offering wills, trusts and administration of the deceased estates. With digital transformation in mind, FNB Fiduciary is in the process of reviewing its strategy including the use of contextual data to ensure they maintain their customer’s need at the core of everything they do and transitioning to paperless systems and processes, thereby making it easier for customers to engage with them.
Switching from Legacy
However, Coetzee stresses that the process of switching from a legacy system for FNB Fiduciary challenged the team to come up with creative practices and solutions that will make everything they do re-usable with a focus on enhanced customer centricity
“Legacy systems have been a challenge, but Fiduciary has found ways to work with it. If you are able to build around a core system capability and modernize, differentiate the niche capability as re-usable components around the core system, that is great because you do not have to go and re-invent the wheel,” explains Coetzee.
The switch to digital saw FNB make significant savings across Fiduciary’s infrastructure through the implementation of new architecture.
“FNB has great in-house capability to design and implement new architecture. When Fiduciary started the journey, one of the first things we did was to assess the server and software landscape. Fiduciary was already on modern infrastructure running 100% on virtual infrastructure, but we have not yet reviewed the applications running in those virtual machines,” affirms Coetzee.
“Fiduciary ended up re-building the entire server landscape, consolidating applications with similar workloads, sharing infrastructure where we could and saving about 75% on hosting costs across the infrastructure as well as drastically simplifying what we have to manage, automating the mundane maintenance tasks etc.”
With 80% of the deaths reported to the Master of the High Court South Africa confirmed as deaths without a Will, Morarjee understands the considerable challenge of changing such a consumer mindset.
“There is an ongoing drive to ensure that we protect our customers by equipping as many of them as possible with a Will.”
“Building an ecosystem that helps us operate at optimal levels through a platform approach is a core focus for the bank. This encourages and empowers our customers to take control of their banking, managing their finances and life goals.”
FNB, through its Fiduciary division has become the first ever bank in South Africa to release an online Will drafting platform that allows its customers to access their online banking and draft their own wills for free. By providing online software that asks the customer input questions such as how many children the customer has and in who’s care the customer wishes to place their children in the event of tragedy as well as who should inherit their assets, has enabled FNB Fiduciary to provide all of its customers with some form of protection.
“Big deployments, especially data migrations, need practice, practice, practice. The only way to sort out all the kinks is to test every scenario you can think of with the best data you can.”
Utilising the digital space
Through FNB Fiduciary’s transformation journey, the company set itself up in the digital space in an effort to reduce its reliance on paper. By providing its product online, it has allowed them to break into the digital sphere and expand their online footprint on platforms like Google.
“FNB Fiduciary has always been a business that's very paper-based, across all of the pillars, wills, trusts, estates, everything has always commanded a lot of paper. I think our big challenge now is to see how much of that paper we can cut out of our ecosystem to make the administration process simpler and more cost efficient.”
And it’s fair to say FNB Fiduciary certainly doesn’t believe in standing still. Coetzee maintains change is a part of evolving and being able to enhance products to enable a greater impact.
“Although I can’t remember where I heard it from, I try and live by following this quote: ‘Great operations take advantage of change. Operations is the capability behind innovation, it delivers on the promise. That’s what makes it one of the most exciting, vital and dynamic aspects of the business in the 21st century.’”
“The new application set us up to free operations resources so that we can spend our energy on innovation to ultimately enhance our product offering and journey.”
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But in order to achieve sustained success, Coetzee highlights the importance of forming good partnerships and draws similarities to the process of maintaining personal relationships.
“The assessment of your partner is the most important thing. Think about a long-term relationship,” says Coetzee.
“It has to be stronger together and this is something to think about when deciding on a partner in the corporate space. You have to decide how you can help each other to grow.”
With the future in mind, Coetzee remains keen to keep pushing barriers and wants to ensure FNB Fiduciary are continuing to explore different ways to how their customers utilise data on an ongoing basis.
“There are so many ways customers want to communicate with us on our products and services. One of the big challenges is to pick the engagement channels that you want to use and be the best at it.”
“We also keep trying to find ways to use the data we have more effectively. Our offerings need to be relevant to the customer’s current reality to ensure we improve their position.”