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To stay on top of their game, financial firms embrace technology

This article appears in the issue July/August 2013, [Vol 22, Issue 7]
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Financial services firms are using knowledge management to find and collate information from different cloud-based applications, to provide faster information to customers via mobile applications and to enable users to access transaction and other banking information and functionality from mobile devices in a manner that has the same feel as working with online transactions.

Majedie Asset Management, which provides asset management services for companies and pension funds throughout Europe, was an early adopter of cloud-based applications, starting more than 10 years ago. The improved efficiencies, smaller technology footprint and other leveraging capabilities appealed to the then five-person firm. Also, information was "in the wind" when users from other areas or new employees wanted to access it, according to Simon Hazlitt, information director.

The company had some sales and customer relationship management (CRM) information in Salesforce.com, e-mails in Outlook and other information that although in the cloud, was still in silos designed around particular tasks. Many applications were SharePoint-based, making it a little easier to find and bring together various elements of relevant material for client reports and other uses, but too much good knowledge was still left somewhere in the cloud where few could find it, according to Hazlitt.

"It wasn't so much that we needed it now," he says, "but as we were growing in size—we now have a staff of 37—and we were generating more content, we were growing beyond the rate where people could find things. We were preparing for the future."

Consolidated view

A simple search engine wasn't enough, because it provides "flat" information without relevance or context. So in late 2011, Hazlitt sought a technology that would help give a consolidated view of relevant contextual information, affording greater insight for managers so they can make their own decisions and offering information for investors (reports and less formal communications with prospects and customers).

Hazlitt chose Coveo for Advanced Enterprise Search, which enabled the investment firm to index information from a variety of cloud-based systems and present the findings in a contextual fashion, including different communications with clients, research and other information. With Coveo, Majedie has been able to pull together relevant materials on different investments and send the information to targeted prospects and customers.

"That in itself is absolutely awesome," Hazlitt says. "It's made us a whole lot more efficient."

Coveo also includes a SharePoint app that enables users to access the Majedie knowledgebase remotely. That is increasingly important as the investment firm's workforce grows and becomes more mobile.

"Coveo will be simply indispensable," Hazlitt says. "With it, we are confident that we are fully prepared for the future."

Faster benefits information

Hudson Wealth Management provides financial services to people of various age groups, with a focus on those nearing retirement age, working directly with individuals and sometimes with companies that provide insurance and other benefits to their employees.

When working with companies, the challenge had been that much of the time was spent on the phone answering basic questions (benefit amounts, coverage information for health insurance, etc.), rather than growing the business through new contacts and additional sales or handling other important administrative duties of the business, says Christian Bianco, Hudson Wealth Management's insurance adviser.

"One of the things that we tell companies is that we act as an extension of their human resources department," Bianco explains. "We don't just come in once a year and explain our plans or changes in our plans. We help them with the administration of the claims."

But that service was becoming more cumbersome to provide as the number of Hudson Wealth's business clients continued to grow. "It was becoming a huge issue. You can't just stop your day to answer these calls," Bianco says.

Able to grow the business

Last year, one of his business clients, Sita Corp., recommended the company's Sojourner mobile enterprise application platform as a way to solve the problem. Pilots of Sojourner started in November, with the product going into full use earlier this year.

With Sojourner, Hudson Wealth Management has been able to provide employees of business clients with a downloadable mobile app that offers all insurance coverage information. The information is also available online for those who don't have a smart device. Any time a client business adds an employee, the information is given to Hudson, which adds it to Sojourner, then provides a user name and password so the person can download the mobile app (or access the information online).

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