$300m spur to NAB IT upgrades, learning paths


By Sarah Kendell

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Improving consumer- and adviser-facing technology, boosting adviser education and leveraging data to develop a more tailored consumer experience are some key ways National Australia Bank (NAB) is to use a $300 million investment in its wealth business.

Speaking to financialobserver, NAB general manager of advice partnerships Ross Barnwell said technology improvements would form a significant part of the investment the bank had flagged last year, with NAB firmly of the view that digital did not have to be “an either/or strategy” for financial advice.

“We see digital as an ‘and’ strategy – we acknowledge that consumers are changing their engagement with all businesses and we need to adapt to address that,” Barnwell said.

“We’ve developed tools like [our super comparison tool] Super Sizer to help consumers engage online and understand how they match up to others, and by keeping them engaged we find that when they are exposed to advice they value it more than they did prior to having that knowledge.”

Part of the bank’s technology investment would also go towards improving the functionality of the Xplan software system across its licensee network, ensuring better collection and reporting of client data in the wake of the ongoing Customer Response Initiative to address past instances of bad advice.

“We held different forums through the year to see how we could support advisers on their individual journeys, and one area that stood out was helping the Xplan system become more efficient through the creation of advice documents for both initial client meetings and ongoing servicing,” he said.

“The work around Xplan is an example of the way we are more efficiently collecting data and engaging with clients, but we will also work to improve that experience.”

Barnwell added adviser education was also a priority, given the government’s proposed reforms to professional standards, and the bank was in the process of raising adviser qualifications across the board through its partnership with Deakin University.

“What we liked about Deakin was that they acknowledge prior learning and experience – they have a system of testing for that which is acknowledging real life learnings,” he said.

In addition, NAB would look to tailor its advice offering to better respond to consumer insights gleaned through its research relationship with CoreData, which had been part of the impetus for its recent restructure to align consumer banking and wealth divisions.

“We found that consumers don’t think ‘bank’ or ‘wealth’, they just say, ‘here are my money needs’, so we have worked to bring planners and mortgage brokers closer together, for example, because from a consumer experience the way it is structured has been quite fragmented.”

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