The risk of standing still

NZ Funds used a privately developed financial advisor system for many years, and it did the job expected of it. But when the time came to draw up NZ Funds’ strategic three-year IT plan, it was clear that the system had reached the end of its lifespan.

“The system had become an operational risk,” said Damon Murfitt, Head of Information Technology for NZ Funds. “It wasn’t particularly scalable. It used a language that made it difficult to integrate with other solutions. And although it was hosted, we accessed it through Citrix. So, basically, it was a desktop solution. It wasn't going to meet our future needs, especially when you look at our business digitisation strategy.”

The system had been built to meet the specific needs of financial advisors which was a positive. However, it didn’t provide NZ Funds with the future enterprise capabilities it required. For example, it didn’t provide a complete picture of its investing clients and this limited the company’s ability to deliver more personalised communications and marketing.

Two board members discuss the direction the business is going. Two board members discuss the direction the business is going.

"Dynamics CRM is a key pillar in our IT road map. It supports our move to upgrade core legacy business solutions and infrastructures, and our progressive digitising of the business."

Philip Doak | Director and COO, NZ Funds

A solution for the future

NZ Funds briefly considered developing an in-house system to replace the old one, but decided that it simply wasn’t viable in terms of cost. They shortlisted two market leading solutions, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and ultimately chose Dynamics CRM.

“With Dynamics CRM we could opt to deploy onsite – which we did - have it hosted, or in the cloud. The other solution offered no choices,” said Murfitt. “Dynamics CRM’s inbuilt business processes could be easily configured to reflect our business proposition, and we also liked the transparency of the licensing model. The solution provides us with a single source of the truth from a data perspective, and gives us a toolkit to allow us to manage it internally.”

The decision to implement Dynamics CRM fitted well with NZ Funds’ commitment to a largely Microsoft ecosystem. And the choice of Fusion5 as their CRM partner was in many ways as important as the choice of solution. “How we felt about the people was a key part of the selection process,” says Philip Doak, Director and Chief Operating Officer at NZ Funds.

“We expected them to be strong in the market and offer great local support. But more than that, we need to feel that we’re working with people who are interested in our business and take the time to understand it. The relationship isn’t just about technology delivery, but business delivery. Fusion5 didn’t disappoint.”

NZ Funds went live with Dynamics CRM in 2016. As well as integrating it with Microsoft Outlook, Fusion5 extended Dynamics CRM to the web with Microsoft’s Adxstudio, providing self-service portals for both business advisors and clients.

A strong foundation

Fusion5 and Dynamics CRM provided the way forward that wasn’t possible with NZ Funds’ old business advisor system.

“Dynamics CRM’s foundation capability supports the increasingly rich client and advisor experience we want to deliver,” says Doak. “It transcends the limitations of the old client account registry view. We can have conversations around executing more sophisticated client-centric marketing and communications, for example.”

The change in hosting model and the different cost structure for the platform has already realised commercial benefits. And Doak is relishing the new level of independence and empowerment. “We’re standing on our own feet. We’re moving forward using our internal resources. And we can turn to Fusion5 for direction and help when we need to.”

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Moving on

The new system gives NZ Funds’ financial advisors more tools and options. The old system was deeply embedded in their businesses so, for some, it was a steep learning curve, while others are delighted with an already familiar web-style browsing interface, the comprehensive level of data accessibility, and the ability to send SMS messaging to clients through the CRM.

Financial advisors now have 24/7 online access to the solution through their choice of mobile device. No longer locked into a desktop system delivered via a Citrix app, they can now use the tools they need with a secure single sign-on – anytime, anywhere.

“Our advisors can use Outlook on their smartphones to set up client appointments and make notes about engagement, and know that these can be entered directly into the CRM. It’s far more efficient,” said Murfitt. 

Fusion5 applied NZ Funds’ already well-defined and automated business processes (like generating service agreements and finance plans) to the configuration of Dynamics CRM, so their financial advisors still have their familiar functionality at hand. In time, NZ Funds may revisit some of the processes, especially where Dynamics CRM offers best-practice improvements in workflows.

Client-centric online applications like NZ Funds’ MyWealth and Kiwisaver Online were also integrated into the CRM. Clients now have access to their latest balances which is a significant step forward in client service.

Although a large project, Doak says that it ran to time and budget. There was a tight focus on the initial requirements to avoid scope creep. A strong relationship with the Fusion5 Microsoft team and clear, responsive communications kept the project and relationship firmly on track.

The big plan

NZ Funds is on a multi-year technology journey to transform the company and the client experience it delivers.

Doak said “Dynamics CRM is a key pillar in our IT road map. It supports our move to upgrade core legacy business solutions and infrastructures, and our progressive digitising of the business.”

And with Dynamics CRM and Fusion5, this has taken a strong step forward.

Great outcomes start with great conversations


Great outcomes start with great conversations

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