ING Canada is deciding which of its 2,500 independent insurance brokers will get the first crack at a software tool that will potentially allow them to better cross-sell or up-sell financial services products.

Approximately 500 brokers will be included in the initial rollout of Fincentric’s

Wealthview Unison, which will begin in the first quarter of next year.

Like other forms of customer relationship management (CRM) products, Wealthview Unison pulls together information on clients from a variety of internal sources and presents them in a consolidated view.

ING Canada’s brokers can get some of this information today, but in some cases they might only see who owns property and casualty insurance policies, for example. The Fincentric tool is

designed to let them see customer information regarding life insurance, banking products and mutual funds.

“”A very strong focus of our desire to implement this is to enable our brokers to offer even better service than they already do,”” said Bruce Palmer, ING Canada’s manager of e-commerce.

“”Part of that service, obviously, would be recognition of needs and fulfilling of needs through cross-selling and up-selling.””

Steven Pentin, product manager of customer value management at the Vancouver-based Fincentric Corp., said Wealthview Unison uses roles-based security to ensure brokers will only see customer information regarding the kind of products they are licensed to sell. This is important, given the differences in insurance regulation across Canada, he said.

“”A lot of the larger institutions want to roll out these capabilities. They’ve invested a lot of money in one-off systems integration to make it happen,”” he said, adding Wealthview represents a more out-of-the-box product. “”We can build a platform that can either be deployed to an institution’s staff or can become a source of information for other sources.””

Palmer said ING was looking for a balance between a full-function CRM module and something simple enough to deploy to a number of users with little training. Each broker, he pointed out, operates in a different manner.

“”They’re not employees of ING, they’re independent business people, and we are one of the markets they serve,”” he said. “”We found with some of the more traditional CRM (products), they were just too pricey or too process-specific.””

Kathleen Khirallah, senior analyst within the retail banking practice of research firm TowerGroup in Needham, Mass., said Canadian banks have been fairly aggressive and sophisticated in getting to a single view of the customer and then managing the customer experience appropriately. The key is to work with vendors and not rely on broad solutions.

“”There’s been a sense of, ‘If X Institution bought it, it’s good enough and we’ll make it work,'”” she said. “”In fact it doesn’t, because it’s not necessarily reflective of their business environments.””

Last year, ING Canada completed the migration of in-production applications, including a customized customer relationship management tool that provides account summaries to its agents, to a centralized server platform from IBM.

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