Ian McKenna: Lack of forward thinking in Zurich’s FutureYou digital platform

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Zurich’s new FutureYou corporate platform offering misses the point of aggregation, says Ian McKenna, director of F&TRC

Zurich is not known as a mass-market player in workplace pensions. Its strategy has been to focus on very large schemes and concentrate its distribution on the largest benefits consulting firms.

In May it announced its FutureYou service, an omni-channel digitally focused proposition for the workplace market. At the time of launch, Zurich FutureYou managing director Emma Huntingdon told me the offering was designed to help people who wanted a better future.

Advanced access was apparently given to service two corporate customers with a further eight to 10 due to come on board in the early months, including some very large but as yet undisclosed names.

One benefit highlighted to me was how FutureYou provides Zurich with a single view of the customer’s plans and the customer in turn can view all their Zurich relationships in one place. Using Salesforce service and marketing clouds, Zurich can use its single view of the customer to identify opportunities to offer scheme members more products. It can also identify data trends and benchmarks with insights about customers to help them make better decisions.

Unfortunately, the service aggregates only Zurich data and contracts when providing the single picture of the customer’s savings, so in practice this is not a single picture. How many consumers have all their savings with one provider?

It is hard not to compare this capabilitywith the aggregation services offered by Aon, Mercer and an increasing number of other adviser firms via Intelliflo, MoneyHub and Sammedia, and not be very disappointed. By not delivering third-party aggregation, Zurich has missed a major opportunity.

Had it followed the lead being taken by so many adviser firms, customers could have had the holistic view of their retirement savings they really need. They could have had a pension dashboard-type service, ahead of the pension dashboard, the pilot of which they are now involved in.

FutureYou does provide a non-advised digital pension pot consolidation service, and an advice service is available by telephone. This includes a personal recommendation.

I am told FutureYou has been built using design thinking – looking at the why and how for the consumer and co-created with corporate customers. The argument is that it is difficult for consumers to think about retirement unless they can see it, and it is claimed FutureYou enables users to picture their retirement through a series of images, while algorithms provide a profile for the person. This is true, but it is not leading-edge thinking.

The service does enable the provision of management information based on use, which can be shared back to the employer, but other insurers were showing me such a capability over a decade ago.

In summary, the client and Zurich get a view of each other. From the client perspective this is responsive and can be accessed over mobile devices. The user can see what they have in their pension pot and how much has been added by employer contributions.

More recently, the service has been extended with a digital magazine and an interactive tool, ‘Value Your World’, to help users think about the amount of cover they need and buy more Zurich products.

I am underwhelmed by what Zurich says it is offering. Most small advisers could put together a better capability for a few hundred pounds a month using specialist IFA software providers.

This service is not going to trouble market-leading innovators like Aegon, Aviva and True Potential. FutureYou seems to be a tool for Zurich to sell more policies to members of group schemes, rather than anything that really helps the member. When there is so much focus in the industry on what represents good value for money, thus far FutureYou fails to tick the box.

If I were the sort of employer Zurich targets, I would be far more attracted by Aon’s Bigblue or Mercer’s Harmonise.