AMP overhauls technology after AXA merger
AMP is in the final stages of a wide-ranging technology overhaul after merging with AXA Asia Pacific Holdings two years ago.
The wealth management company, operating since 1849, has over the past two years attempted to adopt the best of both AMP and AXA technology to integrate the companies' systems. It has now decommissioned all AXA's mainframes that were hosted in the US by IBM and moved out of its Australian data centres.
AMP mainframe applications, some managing legacy systems from the 1950s, have been moved to a new IBM mainframe now hosted in outsourcer CSC's Victorian data centre. A second facility is in Sydney.
The consolidating project was made even more complicated due to the evolution of Australia's financial market legislation, including risk, compliance and the ever-changing superannuation landscape.
"Our administration systems are very much tied to the legislation of the day," said AMP IT director Mike Diamond.
"Through the years the environments have changed and equally the products have changed and our products are forever. We have people on our books where investment products were purchased perhaps at birth, going back to the 1930s."
AMP's more contemporary administration systems are being kept on its UNIX-based mid-range servers but gradually being moved to a Linux environment. It also has a number of .NET systems but these were not affected by the integration, Mr Diamond said.
AXA's investment management wrap platform, called North, has also been maintained, with the company investing extra funds and resources to have a "single view of the client".
"Our industry has multiple administration platforms yet to be customer centric - and that really is the priority for us," Mr Diamond said.
AMP now has that single client view, based on one large operational data warehouse, that is being used for web applications, analytics, customer relationship management systems, and business process management capabilities. "It is quite a central strategy for us. We have perhaps invested more in this space than AXA had, so it became a key foundation in our integration strategy," Mr Diamond said.
The company is not alone in investing in technology.
A recent report by global consulting firm Celent forecast IT spending by the wealth management sector to reach $US4.4 billion in 2012. It is expected to grow about 6.4 per cent in 2013. The report said both Asia-Pacific and North American markets were the drivers of IT spending into 2016, although it said most wealth managers would be spending money on new applications and software, rather than legacy systems.
AMP is also investing at the application layer. It is about to go live on a common web platform for financial planners and clients.
It has also migrated all its 5860 employees to Microsoft Office productivity software from IBM's Lotus Notes and is trialling virtual desktop infrastructure software to enable employees to bring their own technology to work.
"We are now at the tail end of that and have completed most of the projects," Mr Diamond said. "We are really pleased with how it went. It has come in on schedule and on budget, while the synergy targets have been exceeded that we were planning on."