By Marc Knaap, CEO Figlo UK, USA, Canada & India
Understanding one’s financial situation has often intrigued consumers. How much can I spend monthly? How can I pay off my personal loan? What if I lost my job? What would happen to my family if I fell ill and couldn’t work or even worse, if I died? What is going on with my pension and when would I be able to retire? These are the questions that frequently arise in most people’s mind.
The way in which consumers communicate, and interact, with their financial institutions (FI’s) continues to change very rapidly; this is driven by both changing consumer needs and regulatory pressure. The impact of the financial crisis, and the subsequent measures imposed by governments, has placed immense pressure and responsibility on the financial sector.
Regulators force FI’s to deliver a clear, easy to understand yet complete needs analysis when offering financial products to consumers. Commission on some aspects of planning has been banned and the switch to fee-based advice is having a huge impact on how FI’s steer their distribution channels, and how consumers perceive financial advisors and their services. Regulators continue to introduce strict, new legislation, focusing on protecting consumers interests to ensure a financially sound and transparent financial industry.
The age of the consumer
These days consumers communicate with FI’s through multiple channels (face to face, phone, internet & mobile), and also expect to be supported by all channels, even when they switch channels during the process. They might start online, chat with an advisor to resolve some quick questions, fill in the initial details on a tablet, and visit the advisor in person the next day. During this process all relevant information should be available online on every device, at any time.
Consumers are better educated, expect high quality advice and continue to become more self-sufficient by going online to conduct their own research. As a result, consumers have a rapidly increasing need for financial insight into their current and future financial situation and want the ability to understand common scenarios such as what happens at disability, death or early retirement with little effort required. They might then (pre)select financial products in part based on the outcome of these scenarios. Due to the need to gain more insight, there is also a growing consumer demand for DIY tools such as quick scans or surveys to get a clear understanding of their financial situation or to prepare for a consultation with an advisor. The online tools scan their financial situation to establish their income when they retire based on current income and expenses and any other information available. Consumers increasingly expect their bank or insurer to prefill the tool with their information.
Channels are changing
These developments challenge the current sales and distribution of even the most complex financial products and there is a rapidly growing need for professional financial insight and advice. Banks and insurers are actively investing in software platforms and campaigns to go directly to consumers, whilst intermediaries are increasingly under pressure to differentiate professionally to maintain a financially viable business and justify their fees. At the same time banks, insurers, intermediaries and investment managers are proactively approaching these developments by improving their ability to implement new legislation to stay compliant, enabling full online advice services within a multi-channel strategy. Simultaneously they achieve lower overheads through a low cost, integrated and customisable advice process tailored to multiple customer segments. Financial service providers who succeed in properly, and timely, responding to these developments will regain consumer confidence and will be able to retain customer experience.
The power of financial insight
Figlo, founded in the Netherlands has its roots predominately in financial planning. It enhances financial awareness on a consumer level and has been delivering tools to provide transparent financial insight to both advisors and consumers since 1996. Our vision is to make personal finance more understandable and accessible to everyone. Financial advisors, banks, insurers, consumers’ pension and fund managers alike, all benefit from our solutions.
Our software platform has been in high demand since 2008’s crisis as consumers became increasingly aware of the everyday financial risks. Some banks failed, other banks changed their attitude towards risk almost overnight and credit was hard to come by. Governments cut costs considerably affecting many aspects of personal finance including pensions, healthcare and education, whilst raising taxes such as income tax and VAT all at the same time. Some companies even introduced limitations on contributions to their pension schemes.
Our software solution, the Figlo Platform, offers extensive functionality to strengthen or introduce a customer focused sales strategy; different experiences based on customer segmentation, distribution model, product and multi-channel mix are delivered from a single platform. It allows for a personalised, online Personal Financial Manager and a DIY advice process. It is a flexible solution for sales and advice for life and risk, mortgages, death, disability, investment and retirement planning. Pre-defined and fully customisable scenarios help consumers to understand their finances and plan for unforeseen events that might occur. This holistic personal finance concept shows where consumers have been, where they are, and what they need to do to get where they want to be financially. They can find answers to all their questions, and can plan for the future through specific, personalised goal based plans
The platform is a web service based solution. On top of our web services sits a widget architecture that is especially designed to facilitate customisation and white labelling. Its model, based on widgets encapsulating all Figlo functionality, enables tools and functionality to be added quickly and easily to existing or new user interfaces. It is fully tailored to the growing need of FI’s to deliver branded, easy to use, online financial tools to their customers through a fully integrated customer journey.
Figlo has successfully delivered its solutions in organisations such Aegon, Rabobank, ING Bank, ABN Amro Bank, ING Insurance, SNS Group and the new innovative bank Knab. It also services over 10,000 individual financial advisors (IFA) in the Netherlands. Figlo has offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, India, Brazil and South Africa.
For more information please visit FIGLO, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our offices on +44 (0)20 3286 1777.