Is your fund truly digital ready?

Intense focus on customer centric change over the past few years has meant many funds have formed at least an initial view of what this means to the service proposition for members, and to a lesser extent, employers.

Many hours have been spent on the introduction, or at least planning for, new digital points of engagement. This has triggered far greater realisation of the power accessible through technology.

We’re excited to see increasing numbers of fund executives exploring the quantifiable benefits available from operational efficiency, alongside qualitative benefits in areas such as member retention and attraction. We’re also excited to see funds who have already acted, getting information to members when it counts.

Embracing new technology is indisputably positive but it isn’t a cure-all.

Take the recent events in Europe as an example. Britain’s decision to leave the EU is playing havoc with international markets, but digitally enabled funds are reaching into the pockets of members and engaging them. This is directly improving both qualitative and quantitative outcomes. Operationally, their well timed digital intervention alleviates pressure on the contact centre whilst it also reassures the member that the fund is on top of matters.

Embracing new technology is indisputably positive but it isn’t a cure-all. In many funds there has been a blind-spot on the need to tune the operating model in order to support these new capabilities.

For many funds the dialogue with members is intermediated by their third-party administrator, so internal capability and capacity are often constrained. The move to targeted digital interventions gives rise to the need to reconsider whether a third-party provider is relevant for this channel. The sands are shifting on many points of member engagement and the desire to own or at least control the member relationship is migrating back to the Trustee. So too must the structures and skills to support it.

I’ll write separately on the importance of distinguishing between ownership and control another time, but regardless on the option taken, there is a need for review to ensure the trustee office is well placed to succeed as a customer centric operation.

Being truly digital ready is a major commitment. There is no ‘half-wet’ option.

At a minimum, consideration needs to be given to how digital content will be crafted and reviewed, the business rules governing intervention, response handling, risk assessment, compliance, privacy, marketing potential and data outcomes that becoming customer centric will trigger. Add to this that many funds lack mature CRM technology and it becomes clear that there remains much to do.

As with all aspects of the fund, the new digital elements must be regularly assessed as a part of operational risk reviews and evaluated in line with the funds overall strategy.

Being truly digital ready is a major commitment. There is no ‘half-wet’ option. Once expectations of digital engagement have been created failing to maintain them can have dire consequences.