Based on a range of services that have been demonstrated to me this is not just a rebrand, rather the name change marks the emergence of a radically different business to the company formerly known as Norwich Union.
It is worth remembering that Aviva is the fifth-biggest insurer in the world so, in challenging financial times, the consequent financial strength is not without value. However, all too often in the past, the scale of Norwich Union has undermined its proposition.
The company has been famous for its multiplicity of systems and all the problems that brings. Norwich Union is not a name anyone would normally associate with leading-edge technology but, based on recent experiences, I believe Aviva will soon be able to make such a claim.
The first public manifestation of this transformation came a couple of months ago with the appearance of Lisa, Aviva’s personal guide to understanding pensions, delivered from the www.controlyourpension.com service to help members of Aviva group schemes’ understand the benefits of their pensions.
This service is one of the most refreshing examples of how to use technology to communicate complex concepts, in a language ordinary people can understand, that I have ever come across.
Lisa talks in clear, concise terms and resists our industry’s tendency to patronise consumers. The “ray of light” implementation of a stochastic model is the most effective way I have come across to articulate this interaction between risk and return.
Anyone who has not seen it should make a visit to the website a must. For many advisers, the first demonstration of the technology transformation will be the new Aviva for Advisers site which goes live this week at www.aviva.co.uk/adviser. The previous diverse range of different websites for various individual product types have been consolidated to a single service with a consistent template approach to delivering information. This will include a library of no less than 1,800 PDF documents covering a range of Aviva product literature.
Later this year, this will be extended to include similar documents for all legacy products formerly sold by the group but no longer open for new business.
In addition, a fund selection tool allows advisers to view fund performance, search which funds can be linked to which products and obtain factsheets covering the entirely current and legacy fund range for all policies previously sold by the Aviva group, that is, not just the products they are currently offering but also all the products sold in the past.
This means if an adviser wants to understand what fund range is available on a legacy product, such as General Accident or Commercial Union policies, this can be identified together with the necessary performance information.
From the summer, a new secure area will be delivered. This opens with a dashboard that recognises the user as an individual, with their own preferences, and as part of the advisory firm they work for. It will deliver to the user their preferred selection of the latest business inform- ation as they log on.
The navigation within this area follows the adviser process, that is, initially identifying the clients, quotations, applications, tracking new business leading on to tools and the library for servicing. The search facility can identify clients using a wide range of criteria, that is, it is not essential to know the policy number.
Probably the most significant new service is the “My clients” area. This will aggregate all an adviser’s Aviva clients or show a single client’s Aviva contracts in a single view, including, where relevant, valuations.
This will also embrace protection products which, while the focus of significant services at the new business stage, all too often get neglected when it comes to servicing.
Policies with a value will include the fund split, listed by SEDOL codes and link to the appropriate fund sheets. Client reports can be generated as PDFs and in CSV/XML format.
The initial launch of this service will identify all Aviva group policies although the detailed information on current, surrender and transfer values, transaction history, etc, will initially be restricted to contracts currently marketed, with full details of legacy products following by the end of 2009.
The new business tracking service shows all classes of contracts, other than annuities, again in a single view and includes flags to indicate where action is needed. In addition to delivering all these additional services for advisers, from June 1, those clients who want to can register online and access information their policies with Aviva in the ways outlined above.
To put this in context, much of what is outlined above is a much needed catch-up but, by the end of 2009, it will be possible to get online access to seven million policies.
Overall, I am impressed by the new services Aviva is delivering, not just in terms of those available over the next few months but also the platform this provides for further development. This is the key to delivering against a roadmap of more sophisticated services, which will involve deeper integration with client management systems, portals and other planning tools to meet adviser’s needs.
It will be the provision of these extended services that will can help Aviva join the e-commerce market leaders. Developments like this demonstrate Aviva’s determination to really deliver on its message of “building our business around you”.