Manulife offers SaaS-based app to financial execs

Manulife Financial Corp. is planning to roll out a software-as-a-service (SaaS) -based client management suite to over 1,500 financial advisors across the country.

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Software-as-a-service gets a green light

The Toronto financial services company has signed on with Ticoon Technology Inc. to migrate away from its current desktop application and implement a Web-based system that brings CRM-type functionality to financial advisors. The new client manager suite will collect investment, insurance and various other banking data and present the information in an easy-to-use and customizable format.

Manulife said the high costs and security concerns attributed to maintaining its own client management system helped in its decision to upgrade. “We had considered building something in-house, but discounted that pretty quickly,” Andy White, assistant vice-president of distribution systems at Manulife, said. “We don’t really want to be in that game and would rather provide an industry standard solution as opposed to building something ourselves. Plus, the client manager solution also allows our advisors to track assets that are non-Manulife, so it didn’t make sense for us to be providing something that tracks other carriers’ information.”

Andrew Lane, vice-president of sales at Ticoon, said that because Manulife can now send consolidated data from all its different business and products lines – including insurance, funds, securities, and other banking data – the company can dedicate more focus on its core business of providing financial protection and wealth management services.

“This is a move that’s consistent with other companies of all sizes who are moving to software-as-a-service,” Lane said. “It allows them to leverage the expertise that we have in cutting edge software and focus on managing their book of business and clients more effectively.”

Lane said the application also allows for secure communication capabilities between the advisors and clients, through a messaging based system as opposed to a public e-mail based channel.

In addition to the financial advisor system, the application will also provide Manulife customers with a client Web site where they can access their investment and insurance policy data at anytime. White said giving Manulife clients the ability to view their holdings online – as opposed to making phone calls or ordering hard copies – was another determining factor in making the transition.

“Once the advisors are registered on the new product, they’ll have the ability to provide clients with credentials to sign on and track their information themselves,” White said. “This is something we don’t have the ability to do today, but is certainly something our clients have been asking for and will benefit from using.”

Manulife hopes to start rolling out the system to its network of advisors later this year with completion expected sometime in 2009.