Sesame Bankhall Group  

Sesame pins hopes on Aviva tech

Sesame pins hopes on Aviva tech

Sesame Bankhall Group's chairman has revealed how he hopes the intermediary giant will be boosted by parent company Aviva's latest digital innovations.

John Cowan, the company’s executive chairman said he had been to visit Aviva’s "digital garage" in London and hoped Sesame Bankhall advisers will be able to benefit from this facility.

The Hoxton Square in London site was set up by Aviva to explore and develop all things digital. 

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Speaking to sister newspaper the Financial Times back at the start of 2016, Andrew Brem, the former Asda and Carphone Warehouse executive who was brought in to run Aviva’s digital strategy in December 2014, said: “We’re being encouraged to break every rule in the book, and not feel constrained by traditional ways of doing things in the industry.

The FTSE 100 insurer is one of several in the sector investing in technology in an effort to harness big data analytics to help remain competitive and boost profitability. By analysing data, for example, the company has found that pension savers tend to be better drivers, so it offers car insurance discounts to its pension customers.

Mr Cowan said: “At Sesame Bankhall Group our role is to help financial advisers of all hues to run better businesses.

“Central to that assistance is understanding the changing dynamics around technology and customer attitudes as to how they might be serviced in the future.

“So whilst we are an independent company and work closely with our own adviser clients to develop propositions, we are very fortunate to have access to Aviva's very rich seam of research and practical technological resource to help us validate our ideas, particularly in areas where we are looking to push the boundaries.

“Our team has also been impressed by Aviva’s agile way of working on IT projects and this is something we can learn from as we look to develop new services and quickly deliver them to market.”

Sesame Bankhall Group was originally owned by Friends Life, which was bought by Aviva in 2015.

Mr Cowan said the company is now moving beyond the period of uncertainty involved in the acquisition and the strategic review it carried out following the change in ownership.

At the start of 2015 and ahead of buying Friends Life, Aviva stated in a note to shareholders that it would not provide “open-ended” financial support to a loss-making advice network and without a return to profit it would cease to trade.

Post-acquisiton, Aviva provided £25m of “support” to the Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG) should it need it to pay “any liability” any part of the group is unable to meet.

The Friends Life arm of the enlarged Aviva business added a further £20m, specifically to cover costs associated with past business reviews, restructuring and solvency and liquidity needs.

Under the strategic review, Sesame then moved to a restricted advice model and undertook past business reviews, primarily an investigation into pension switching advice.