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by design Written by John O’Hanlon Produced by George Tweed

Close Brothers Premium Finance, the company that ‘helps makes insurance more affordable’, is on a digital journey that will deliver cost benefits to the business and enhanced ser vices to insurance providers and their customers

Chris Loake CIO



lmost two million people and businesses across the UK and Ireland have a relationship with Close Brothers Premium Finance. The core aim of the company is to help individuals and businesses spread the cost of their insurance by providing a finance solution that enables the customer to pay over a number of monthly instalments. More than half of all people who buy motor insurance, for example, expect to set up a direct debit to pay the cost over ten or twelve months. In some cases the insurer themselves is able to offer monthly repayment terms but more often than not it falls to the broker to either collect the premium in full from the customer or provide some form of financed repayment

facility. Most brokers don’t have the resources to offer that those facilities themselves so they look to companies like Close Brothers to provide it for their customers. Close Brothers Premium Finance has been providing this service for 35 years and is today a trusted partner to more than 2,000 insurance brokers. As you’d expect, most of its business is now conducted electronically with a fair degree of automation, to the extent that it could be described as a digital business. “But it has become a digital business by evolution rather than by design,” says CIO Chris Loake. Much upgrading had already taken place before Loake joined the company in 2014 from Experian where he had worked for 11 years, for example the process of consolidating the group’s data centres into a central location was well under way. However the digital channels were

Chris joined Close Brothers Premium Finance as Chief Information Officer in 2014 having spent the previous 11 years at Experian, with most recent roles being Vice President for Software Development, EMEA, and Head of Solution Development, UK. Chris is a member of the Bank IT leadership team and is responsible for the Premium Finance IT strategy and execution, as well as the day to day maintenance and support of the systems. Chris is a keen athlete, having previously been in the British Rowing team; he now spends his free time training and competing in bicycle races around London.

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IT TAKES A DIGITAL ENTERPRISE TO MAKE AN ENTERPRISE DIGITAL At Cognizant, we’ve invested in the end-to-end capabilities needed to help organisations not just do digital, but be digital. We partner with our clients across industries to unlock new value through the power of digital technologies and help them evolve into more competitive, progressive versions of themselves.

Cognizant is proud to support Close Brothers on their digital transformation journey.



HELPING CLOSE BROTHERS NAVIGATE THE SHIFT TO THE DIGITAL ERA Digital is driving a once-in-a-generation shift in how we live, work and play. It’s this shift that makes it possible—and necessary—for businesses to radically reshape how they interact and transact with customers and partners, seamlessly connecting the physical with the virtual. Companies that successfully navigate this shift are reimagining and reinventing their businesses, dramatically altering the ways in which they serve their markets. Close Brothers Premium Finance is embracing this shift and transforming its business for the digital era and Cognizant is proud to be supporting them on this journey. In this changing environment, financial services organisations must make the leap from doing digital to being digital. Cognizant is enabling this shift by helping our clients to simultaneously boost operational efficiency and enhance their overall effectiveness with next-generation IT services, build platform solutions and implement digital models that unleash new market potential and deliver higher levels of performance. Next-Generation IT It is now a strategic imperative for financial services organisations to satisfy a dual mandate – to be more efficient at the same time as embracing innovative ways of doing business. Next-generation technology infrastructures allow organisations to achieve operational efficiency by embracing automation, converting core IT activities into managed services and modernising their legacy systems to become effective digital businesses.

Platform-Based Solutions Increasingly, we are seeing platform-based solutions being adopted to accelerate the shift to digital. Platform solutions offer variable cost structures and speed time-to-value by enabling businesses to quickly achieve better performance and competitive advantage.

Delivering digital In financial services, responding to the digital shift requires organisations to develop new multi-generational business models, new products and services and new ways to engage their customers. This requires a fresh mindset and new approaches to rapidly architect, build, pilot and scale digital initiatives that can transform customer propositions and accelerate performance.

Winning in this new landscape means working with the right technology partner that understands this new and emerging market. We are delighted that Close Brothers Premium Finance has selected Cognizant as one of its partners on their digital journey. Cognizant (NASDAQ: CTSH) is a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process outsourcing services, dedicated to helping the world’s leading companies build stronger businesses. Visit to learn more.



not sufficiently scalable or stable to meet the needs of the business going forward. When Loake arrived this was already understood by the business leadership, and a technology update was being discussed; a process he quickly pointed out would be expensive and ultimately ineffective unless it was carried out as part of a root and branch business transformation. “We needed to re-architect the business into a truly digital entity. We stand or fall by our relationship with the brokers – and ultimately their clients – and that relationship is delivered through our servers and our technology.”

Who is our customer? The first task was to map the current technology estate. Like the curate’s egg, some of its parts were excellent but had not been utilised properly. Other parts had fundamental problems. However this mapping had to be done in conjunction with understanding what it was supposed to do. “We are an intermediated business,” Loake explains. “99 percent of our business is sold through insurance brokers. But we had an identity crisis: who are we?” In the insurance sales process the end customer generally has only a limited understanding as to who

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“Prolifics’ expertise and delivery track record for software on IBM Hybrid Cloud, were the key differentiators that secured their selection as our partner for this core building block of our digital transformation.” Chris Loake Chief Information Officer Close Brothers Premium Finance

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Email: Prolifics Inc, 1 Fore Street, London EC2Y 5EJ.

Making societies more productive by helping our customers run their businesses. Birlasoft, one of the Global Leaders in IT service delivery, is proud to be associated with Close Brothers for last three years in its journey to become a leading Modern Merchant Bank. Birlasoft is a strategic partner of Close Brothers and supports its mission critical core banking application and Management Information System which puts it in a unique position to create value for next generation business transformations. Birlasoft has successfully implemented: A Fraud Detection Solution which has saved Close Brothers a million pounds since inception. It has been awarded

‘Best vertical solution of year 2014’ by IT Europa - European IT and Software Excellence Award. Close Brothers Premium Finance IT team has successfully delivered a very large Customer Service Program (CSP) by transforming the Banking Application for which Birlasoft was the partner of choice.

Founded in 1995, Birlasoft is a Global IT Services provider and part of 150 year old, multi-billion dollar CK Birla Group. Birlasoft deploys a host of innovative solutions and service architectures across the globe in Banking, Financial, Insurance Services and Manufacturing industries. Our core values lie in being a dependable service provider, with years of experience in managing mission critical systems for our esteemed customers. We achieve our mutual goals by engaging and integrating human capital across our people, customers and partners. Our expertise makes us unique as we challenge the status quo and strive for excellence. Birlasoft (UK) Ltd. 53-54 Grosvenor Street, London, W1K 3HU | Tel: + 44-207-319 5700 | Fax: +44-208-711 5103

“Birlasoft have had a strong delivery track record for Close Brothers; what separates them from other vendors I’ve worked with is the level of partnership and flexibility the y consistently display” Chris Loake, CIO – Close Brothers Premium Finance

Close Brothers Premium Finance perhaps bought a supermarket is. Even though Close Brothers branded insurance policy, managed Premium Finance works closely with by a broker, from a price comparison brokers to make sure the customer website in the first instance. is provided with all the information Insurance is not the core business needed to make them aware that of a retailer, so it uses a broker to they are entering an agreement configure its product and in turn with a third party lender the broker uses an insurer it’s the very nature or insurers to provide of the insurance the risk transfer facility purchase model that and a provider such the customer often just as Close Brothers The year Close sees their broker as Premium Finance as Brothers Premium the provider of the its finance provider Finance was founded end to end service. to pay the insurer’s Whilst they will receive premium and arrange Close Brothers branded monthly collection from documentation, if they have the customer “All the customer queries, want to change their bank wants is insurance and to be able account or requested payment date, to pay for it monthly. In some parts or settle miss payments, they will of our market segmentation we are have to deal someone they don’t asked to be as invisible as possible immediately recognise, having so that the insurance distribution


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“We needed to re-architect the business into a truly digital entity” brand can provide a seamless experience!” This is an approach is known as ‘white labelling’ and is very common in the personal lines insurance market. At the other end of the scale, Close Brothers Premium Finance provides finance for much larger commercial insurance premiums for large companies. One construction company customer, for example, has over £23 million worth of annual insurance policy premiums to cover its insurable risks. “In that case it’s unlikely that we can be or would be expected to be invisible in the background or white labelled” he says. “We want to be sure we understand the customer’s business and that they understand what we are doing for them. In that market segment it is a completely different offering. We need our business and


our technology to be structured to support these different market segments.” Having mapped the customer journey in each of the different segments, it was possible to plan the digital journey to deliver the ideal experience to them. “There are two options”, Loake says, “You could decide to build a new business alongside the old one, with new systems and ways of operating, and flip over to that when it is ready. However I think that is an approach that is set up for failure. It’s not much use saying that we will give you a splendid service in three years’ time – they want to know how we can help them now!” Partners in progress An incremental approach gets over


Lawrence Harvey impressed me with their delivery record and professionalism from the start. It was an easy choice to select them as the sole contract recruitment partner for our transformation programme.

Chris Loake, Chief Information Officer, Close Brothers

Recruitment specialists within:






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6 New Financial Organisations

opened their doors in 2015 Two of them will be doing business exclusively online. And there will be more to come1. If your business and IT model aren’t right, you may not get a look in. In fact, you may not be there to get a look in. Close Brothers Premium Finance understands that Digital Transformation is the key to enhancing its current business. In this time of unprecedented change for the financial services sector, maintaining the status quo is not an option. Discover how technology can be used today for a better tomorrow at

Trusted partner for your Digital Journey 1

Atos, the Atos logo, Atos Consulting, Atos Worldgrid, Worldline, BlueKiwi, Bull, Canopy the Open Cloud Company, Yunano, Zero Email, Zero Email Certified and The Zero Email Company are registered trademarks of the Atos group. May 2016 Š 2016 Atos

Alex Marsh COO

that problem, and is much more adaptable to changing markets. So it was decided to start with the all-important contact centre which was using traditional channels to communicate with customers such as telephones and e-mail. To support the evolving customer experience management requirements of our business partners and support a wider set of channels – so that a

customer could be provided with a more joined up experience across all of the brands they form relationships with through the insurance buying cycle something more sophisticated was needed. The decision on a new platform brought in the people expected to actually use it. Employees were taken off the phones for a few days to experience the different packages that were being considered and visiting other companies’ contact centres. The system that was eventually chosen was the one they liked best. A Cisco communications management solution is being implemented by contact centre specialist and Cisco Gold Partner Natilik that is introducing all the tools needed, including webchat, for a seamless customer interface. The Close Brothers Premium Finance

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“We want to keep our annual growth rate at a stea our NPS above +50. Those are our two objective

ady and sustainable rate and drive headlines for the programme�

customer services team was named as one of the top ten teams in the UK at last year’s National Contact Centre Awards, with further honours at the London & South East Contact Centre Forum Awards and the team are expecting further success in this years’ awards. The contact centre is already well on the way to being recognised as ‘world class’ and the delivery of the new technology solution later this year is expected to take them onto the next level. The other side of this coin is the online customer interface, or ‘gateway’ which provides customers with the capability to self-serve at key

Sharon Bishop CEO

stages of the journey with Close Brothers, such as credit agreement signature and simple account changes. “This was really not working as we wanted it to before we did the end to end customer mapping I spoke about. Now, instead of having an unexpected e-mail from a company that they don’t recognise and may go into their spam filter, they will have an e-mail identified as coming from their





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“In some parts of our market segmentation we are asked to be as invisible as possible!”



















Paul Trail Director Of Sales

insurance provider, reintroducing us as the provider of the financed instalment facility A link will take them to our secure customer interface, and through that they will be able to sign their documentation and complete the insurance finance application process.” The online completion service is expected to save up to 80 percent on the cost associated

with sending documentation by post and administrating it on it’s return, while speeding up the process of completion of finance arrangement which benefits both the customer and the insurance provider and is already being widely acclaimed in trials by the brokers. As Sue Kitson, Best Business Practice Manager at the leading insurance broker Griffiths & Armour has commented: “We have been trialling the new online document signature service with great results. Submitting documentation online and having the customer review, sign and submit direct to Close Brothers Premium Finance has saved us time and money, and the industry needs more such services. The system is quick and easy to use and it’s freed up our staff to spend more time with our customers.”

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“It’s not much use saying that we will give you a splendid service in three years’ time – they want to know how we can help them now!” Two companies were brought in to deliver the enhanced customer gateway, the content management specialist Liferay, and DocuSign for electronic signature technology that facilitates electronic exchange of contracts and signed documents. “At present”, Loake says, “the percentage of customers who sign online is probably in single digits. Though there will always be customers who prefer pen and ink, the target is to drive that up to around 90 percent.” Objective headlines As well as delivering better customer


experiences and increasing satisfaction scores, which have always been high (Close Brothers Premium Finance was a finalist at this year’s Customer Satisfaction Awards organised by the Institute of Customer Service), the digital transformation will deliver significant cost savings. Making the organisation leaner through technology will improve productivity, and make it possible for the company to extend its service into areas in which it couldn’t previously operate. This will enable Close Brothers Premium Finance to cover more of the different types of insurance offered by the brokers and

potentially look into associated markets where we can provide financing solutions. It will also allow the company to make better use of synergies within the Close Brothers Group. “We are part of a Bank with a full suite of offerings not all of which we currently offer to our brokers. One large broker recently told me that if we could take on his invoicing, debt management, and single payment processes he could realise real productivity benefits in terms of administration and concentrate his staff’s efforts on the

core business of identifying and providing insurance solutions. We are fulfilling perhaps 60 percent of the brokers’ needs at the moment and need to ask how we can improve on that, but currently we have to scale value with headcount. That

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is not sustainable but technology can make it happen.” It’s fortunate that Loake (a keen cyclist who was once a member of the UK National Rowing Team) has plenty of energy because his 2016 workload would tax anyone. The contact centre will be fully deployed around October, he says, and at the same time the enhanced customer gateway will be substantially ready, with an early release in the summer. But his big thing, as the foundation to his Digital Transformation strategy is the current deployment of an IBM Integration Suite, to explain which he resorts an analogy. “We have a rather inflexible architecture at the moment with multiple point to point connections between individual software components. Unravelling that, peeling back the layers of the onion to get to the heart of it, is a challenge! The Integration Suite delivered by Prolifics who are an IBM


Premier Partner and specialists in IBM software implementations, will allow us to integrate the new contact centre without attaching it directly to the old system. The same with the new customer gateway. Instead of talking to one another direct they will communicate through the Integration Suite. It makes the components work like Velcro – when attached they are tightly integrated but when you want to remove one it comes off cleanly and you can stick a new one on!” The digital transformation is a huge project for a company the size of Close Brothers Premium Finance, and represents a major investment by

Based in Lo

ondon, UK


Close Brothers Group, its merchant banking parent company. Working with trusted and expert partners is, as we have seen, an effective way to manage that change but with multiple projects running simultaneously and with multiple vendors, sometimes more holistic programme support is needed, which is why Atos was selected as the delivery partner, and Cognizant as the test partner, for the overall programme. In terms of the selection of Atos, Loake comments that “the company that is trusted to deliver IT for the Olympics every four years can be confidently be relied on to get it right first time. “There’s no way we could hire the number of senior people we’d need to scale up and deliver this programme ourselves. Anyway, what would we do with them afterwards? We don’t need

that many permanent people. We have an established business change team looking at the implications the project will have for our employees and our partners. A whole level of thought leadership is being provided by those business change teams and the technology guys in-house who are working with the Atos teams to navigate through this journey.” For a service organisation like Close Brothers Premium Finance how it is perceived in the market is vital. Currently it has a net promoter score (NPS) of +35 for customers and +45 for brokers. “These are phenomenal numbers,” concludes Loake, “but we aspire to get them both over +50. We want to enable future sustainable growth and drive our NPS above +50: those are our two objective headlines for the programme.”

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Wimbledon Bridge House, 1 Hartfield Road, London, UK SW19 3RU 0333 321 8566

Profile for Business Chief Europe

Close Brothers - Brochure 2016  

Close Brothers - Brochure 2016  

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