BT Financial embraces BI to better understand customers

Wealth management advisors shaved 150 hours per month off compiling reports

Jeremy Smith, BT Financial senior manager of advice and optimisation

Jeremy Smith, BT Financial senior manager of advice and optimisation

BT Financial Group has tapped business intelligence (BI) software from QlikView to provide insights on how to grow and retain customers for its financial advice business.

BT Financial, a division of the Westpac Group, uses BI to “understand [why] customers are saying with us right through the advice process and which customers are not staying with us”, and the reasons why, said Jeremy Smith, senior manager of advice and optimisation.

BI lets the business “look at the pipeline of customer interactions” between the bank and advice sides of the business, Smith told Computerworld Australia.

“We look at how many opportunities and referrals are coming through into the advice business. We link it in with our customer data and understand the customer profile… And then we look at the effectiveness of how those opportunities are actually translating through into advice delivery.”

BT searched for BI software that could give it an integrated view of large volumes of complex data from a “vast array” of internal, on-premise sources, Smith said.

For example, “one of the things that we do is manage a net promoter score process across all of our brands and we get a great deal of information back from customers as to what they like and don’t like about working with our planners and working with Westpac Group”, he said. “The ability to integrate that information with some of the sales data ... was key.”

However, BT Financial was “struggling to actually paint that integrated view of our business using [Microsoft] Excel”.

When Smith joined one year ago, his team of four was spending 250 to 300 hours a month “generating data from various sources, bringing it together [and] publishing it out through SharePoint”, he said. “It was really not sustainable.”

BT Financial explored a variety of BI options from the market, including software from IBM, Oracle and Microsoft. In the end, the business chose QlikView because it promised to be quick to implement, had an easy-to-use interface and appeared to offer strong ongoing support, Smith said.

“In any step change when you try to move from an old way of doing things to a new way, there’s inevitably going to be capability gaps in the team, so I was very conscious of the fact that we needed to [educate] the people in the team, and therefore the vendor support in going through that process was key.”

BT Financial met its goal to implement the BI platform in three months, Smith said. The service went live 1 October last year. “We delivered the full scope that we hoped to achieve, and we delivered on time and on budget."

“We certainly streamlined our process”, shaving about 150 work hours, he said. Weekly reports are now finished two-and-a-half hours earlier and monthly reports are done a week earlier.

The earlier release times mean that the reports are “seen as the source of truth across the business”, he said. “Prior to that, because of the delay ... senior executives were looking at alternative information sources to fill the void during that gap.”

In addition, Smith estimated that the business will save $50,000 per annum in IT costs.

An unexpected benefit is that the BI platform has helped the business find useful data it hadn’t looked at before, he said. “We’re starting to access new data sources and bring visibility of that information to the business.

“We’re in the very early days of our new process, but there’s a massive opportunity now for us to build out on this platform.”

However, there has also been a side effect of increasing the business’s expectations. “This time last year, the business had low expectations based on their experience of dealing with us,” he said. “Now that they can see what’s possible, they’re very hungry for more information.”

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