“We expect users to trust us with highly sensitive information, so we need to be 100% sure that the security we have is not just up to scratch but is the best it possibly can be. Trust is absolutely essential, and if you don’t do security right you don’t give your customers any reason to trust you.”
Insightive.tv: Can you begin by describing an overview of your customer onboarding process?
Dominic: We are a little bit different than some of the established players because, in the consumer channel, we are essentially a tech-first firm. This has been able to implement digital solutions from the ground up.
From a product perspective, we distinguish really two categories — investment products, for which we have a range of solutions, and everything else which is available through Moneyhub, which is a fully digital service. It is usually initiated on our website, but customers can jump straight to the app and sign up through their phone.
We are entirely consumer-centric in the way that we think. For this reason, I believe that we have to be careful with digital solutions. They need to be seen as facilitators, not replacements. For example, we have a telephone number that is very visually available, allowing people to pick up a phone and speak with a real person. I think some larger organisations have almost forgotten the importance of that route in their eagerness to go digital. Digital can really change how people live their lives, but we should not forget that people are people.
Insightive.tv: Are these capabilities recent developments, and can you talk about ongoing digitisation project you are working on?
Dominic: We embarked on three major projects this year, two of which we have delivered, and one that is still in progress.
The first project was the unification of our websites and relaunching Momentum.co.uk with everything a customer may want in a single place. Mergers in 2014 left us with a number of different websites. This was one of my main focuses when I joined the company. Coming from a consumer and digital background, this scattered web-presence was an obvious deterrent to customers from my perspective.
Project number two was to fully integrate Moneyhub into our existing services and rebranding it as Momentum Moneyhub.
The ongoing project is to enhance our customer’s ability to engage with our investment products digitally, either through the website or in-app. This project will be landing in the early part of next year.
This third project is really important development for us. Right now, if an individual is looking to buy our funds directly, it is a fairly labour intensive process that involves printing out forms and posting them to our office along with physical proof of ID. That is not ideal for customers or us. Our intention is to entirely transform this process so that for almost all cases it is an entirely digital experience, even if customers do not have an account with us.
Beyond this, our real focus over the next six-month is going to be consolidating these developments. We have to look at the feedback from our customers and fine tune these programs.
Insightive.tv: Are you working on these projects in-house, or outsourcing to third party contractors?
Dominic: We are working with a number of partners for our ongoing project. But the experience will be built in-house and will sit on our app and website — the front end of which will be entirely built by us. A big reason for this is that this system needs to integrate deeply with our Moneyhub app, which itself is a ground up, in-house product. So purchasing an “off-the-shelf” solution is not really an option. But for other back elements, we will contract with third parties.
I think a lot of the tech-first firms have taken a very hands-on approach to development — it allows them to own the IP, and there are certainly benefits to that. But I think that the next wave, which we are very much a part of, has an ideology of building “what you do.” In our case, that means building products that improve financial wellness. Things that sit on the periphery of that, we outsource to specialists. For example, our customer service technology is run entirely by a third party because we aren’t a customer service firm. Instead of trying to build an excellent customer service team, we have partnered with people who already excel in that area. We are taking the same approach to the transactional capabilities of our products. I believe you get the best results when everyone focuses on their area of expertise.
Insightive.tv: When looking at digitising the customer journey, what are the key outcomes you are looking to achieve?
Dominic: First and foremost it is about the user experience. I think it should be easy and actually enjoyable for people to engage with our product set. The bottom line is that we need to deliver a fantastic service. Digital is one of the best ways to do that.
On the back of that, we are looking, of course, to expand our business. If something is easier and more enjoyable to do, that translates into more repeat customers. If you provide a good enough service, customers do your advertising for you. We want customers to come to us because we provide the service that best fulfils their needs. Digital is obviously part of that strategy.
Internally, digitisation is also important because we are looking to expand our direct consumer offering. Traditionally, we have engaged with clients through IFAs. So, in those instances, operational costs are less of a consideration because the IFA does that side of things for the consumer. But the operational efficiencies of digitisation have provided us an opportunity to engage more directly with customers.
Insightive.tv: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in implementing these programs?
Dominic: There are really two main challenges —regulatory concerns, and security concerns.
Security is really key to what we do. We expect users to trust us with highly sensitive information, so we need to be 100% sure that the security we have is not just up to scratch but is the best it possibly can be. Trust is absolutely essential, and if you don’t do security right you don’t give your customers any reason to trust you. I would not call security a burden, but it is resource intensive. You need the right people, the time to build products that are secure and a commitment to understanding that it is an ongoing process.
The regulatory concerns are different in nature, and really come down to a base issue of explaining complicated products in an accessible way. We want customers to be able to choose the best product for themselves.
From the consumer point of view, the regulator is there to protect them. But, actually, what this can translate to in practice is pushing consumers away. If you log onto an investment manager’s website, of any major brand, you will see a massive disclaimer written in a complicated language. If you then go through a risk profile, it is even more intimidating. The truth is that there are certain people who should be looking at investment solution because they are not earning interest on money that could be invested. But they don’t know how to do that and they are put off by the experience that is presented to them
There is a willingness from an FCA perspective to acknowledge that things are changing and cooperate with those innovating within the industry — which is really positive. However, one does need to be aware that everything is above board from a regulatory perspective.
A big step, in which the entire industry is really working on, is in the development of robotic advice services. This is a very complex service that no one is doing properly at the moment. But this could really change the game in regards to intermediated investment, and allow customers to engage directly in a much more accessible way that secures a sufficient level of information for them to make decisions on their own.
Dominic Baliszewski is Director of Consumer Strategy at Momentum. Dominic is new to this role but has extensive customer-focused experience — having previously worked as Momentum’s Head of D2C Sales and Marketing, and in customer-facing positions within the broadband industry. We spoke with Dominic to get an understanding of how Momentum is utilising digital technology to change the depth to which people understand their finances, and how digital contracting has affected their ability to reach customers.
Momentum is part of a South African financial service group that was established in 1966 and has grown organically. Through strategic acquisitions and mergers, the company became known as Momentum in 1973 when Momentum Assurance Corporation was acquired. In the UK, Momentum began as an investment firm, which remains a mainstay of their business. They also provide a host of financial wellness products that allow business and individuals to better understand their finances and connect with internal and external services to grow their wealth. In 2011, Momentum launched Moneyhub, this collates an individual’s entire “financial universe,” allowing improved financial awareness.
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