CACEIS’ UK pension business (formally KAS BANK) has built a reputation for delivering a strong client experience in the areas of custody and pension scheme administration. At the same time, the focus for the business centred on becoming the governance partner of choice for pension schemes, leading to innovative new product initiatives, such as cost transparency.
26 Feb 2020
Delivering technological innovation has always remained at the heart of how we approach pension scheme custody. Furthermore, areas such as custody or solutions like cost transparency, require the ability to continually enhance technologies and technology processes as client expectations evolve. This will quickly separate those organisation that have the commitment and expertise to deliver technology innovation across their custody and fund administration processes to drive client service and experience and those that are less equipped to do so.
We talk to Arnaud Misset, Chief Digital Officer at CACEIS who oversees CACEIS’ digital transformation
What was the catalyst that sparked off the digital transformation programme at CACEIS?
The seeds of this programme were already there, but we began in real earnest in 2017. We were seeing a lot of change in the market and people everywhere were talking about digital. As a result, we asked ourselves what does this mean and how are we going to approach it? Everyone involved in the asset servicing business for pension schemes offer similar services for areas such as custody and governance reporting. The only difference is the appetite a client has to work with you. Consequently, we concluded that user experience was everything. That was our first pillar.
Our second pillar revolved around the fact that we were working in a volume business. We are an outsourcer. Therefore we need to manage our business in a very efficient manner. Our approach needed to be simple and easy, leveraging new technology as much as possible.
The third pillar focused on the way in which we could boost sales. Rather than look at our own business, we decided to look at other sectors for inspiration, such as telecoms and car manufacturing. In the telecoms business, for example, less than a decade ago you would have paid for every minute on the phone and be charged line by line. Then five years ago the industry moved to an ‘all-in’ approach. This represented a huge change.
In the car industry, meanwhile, ten years ago you would have visited a car showroom and talked to a salesperson about the options. This could take up a lot of time and money and, potentially, you might not end up with the car you wanted. Today, however, you can simply go on a website and choose the car, the engine, the colour and so on and then get a price and print it out. Then you can go to the showroom and talk to a representative about the price. In the past, we have not traditionally done this in the custody business.
However, we are seeking to change things. The examples above highlight that in this digital age, individuals are growing more comfortable with the idea of selecting products and services online, sometimes ones that are more complex in nature. Consequently, we are bringing this flexible, technology approach to CACEIS in a number of ways, such as the ability for clients to add additional services such as performance measurement or ESG reporting online. In the case of performance information, for example, we can offer clients a three-month service for free before we start to charge for it – this follows a similar approach used by other technology proficient online providers.
In a further example, we understand that clients we partner with want the same experience with us that they would receive in the digital channels they are using outside of financial services. As a result, we launched a new online service recently called Prospect Request. We receive up to 150 enquiries a year via this service and we have made some very important sales through it.
What did you do at CACEIS to transform the client experience?
We launched a new programme that involved creating a client portal. This provides clients with ‘real time access’ to their assets with tools for data analysis and generating reports. It wasn’t easy, but we got there in the end. One of the issues in banking is that people work in silos, and this breaks down the barriers to communication – we focused on removing these barriers. At the same time, we looked at the development of the client portal through the lens of our clients. Consequently, we took great strides in thinking about client experience when developing the dashboards for the client portal, mindful of the fact that clients would be highly focussed on ease of use in accessing the information they needed. This project took a year and a half to implement.
In fact, CACEIS’ pensions business also applied the same principles to client experience in developing their proprietary cost transparency dashboard for pension schemes, which helps bring costs to life. The pensions business worked on making the cost information easy to interpret, to help trustees make decisions that are more informed.
Do you experience any legacy issues in installing new technology?
Yes. There are always some legacy issues. Sometimes it’s not easy to work with old systems and new technology. But the IT team did a great job and they were very involved in the process. It also helped that we used a Minimum Viable Product approach, which seeks to get the quickest viable version of a product out to the market. This changed everything. We also employed sprint methodology, which enables teams to deliver new software more frequently and respond to changes quickly.
Can you tell me a little about your Ambassador programme?
This works with both internal and external people and it’s our second year of doing it. Part of it relates to the fact that we don’t want to be viewed as a two-tier company. We want everyone to be involved in our digital activities and we use the same collaborative programme that we use with our clients. For example, we ask staff to post their ideas on a message board and then other staff members can either like or dislike them. It’s anonymous, so no-one gets hurt. At the end of the first year we had 150 ideas posted.
We then selected fifteen teams. Each team was then trained to pitch to general management. Each team had fifteen minutes each to present and fight for their project. It was really inspiring. Finally, we selected five ideas, which are now real life projects.
Can you provide some examples of the ideas that went through?
Yes. The corporate communications team, for example, suggested that we use our respective corporate signatures to promote new products and initiatives. So we altered our emails to contain a pre-defined corporate message. It sounds simple, but it was effective. We also had an internal project that involved booking meeting rooms. Often people book them up, but don’t use them. We linked the booking system to Outlook and leveraged our digital team to enable users to see if anyone was actually using a room. We also looked at holiday dates. If someone was out of the office for a day or more, we knew that other people could use their room for a meeting. Again, it’s a really simple but effective idea.
Can you say a little bit about how you foster a Fintech culture at CACEIS?
We are part of Credit Agricole – Le Village. This is an important incubator for us. It’s very good at sourcing Fintech companies we can work with. Indeed, external Fintechs want to work with us rather than compete with us. We don’t pay for the product development, but we sell it. It’s easy to integrate it and we get an attractive price for our clients – it’s much cheaper for them. The aim is to have a wide range of services.
Any final observations?
Yes. Custodians will continue to provide traditional services such as safekeeping, settlement and execution, but increasingly it’s the added value-added services that will capture a client’s attention and maintain their loyalty. In short, the value of insights and analytics has never been more important or valuable.