MLP is an independent financial services provider that focuses on the relationship manager role. Since its founding in 1971, it has focused on advising university graduates and clients with sophisticated requirements on pension provision, asset management, and risk management. With around 2,800 fi- nancial consultants and an extensive service offering, MLP is able to guide its 560,000 clients in six European countries through every aspect of personal financial management (MLP 2004).
MLP uses the best products available in the marketplace from external product providers to de- velop innovative financial solutions that are tailored to its clients’ individual requirements. The MLP group comprises a brokerage business, a bank with an asset management department, a life insurance company and a non–life insurance provider, which offer tailored solutions using exter- nal product providers’ products and complementing them with own products. Figure 6.4 shows the organizational structure of the MLP group.
As a strategic listed holding company, MLP AG defines the goals and coordinates business strategies within the group. MLP Finanzdienstleistungen AG is the core company in the MLP group. It is responsible for customer consulting and the development of tailored solutions using the best products and components (modules) in the financial market. MLP Bank AG performs the role of a ‘general contractor’ for the MLP group’s investment and financing products. It coordi- nates the combination of product modules from different banks and investment companies and
serves as custodian. MLP Lebensversicherung AG produces endowment policies, life insurance policies, occupational disability policies, and annuities. It also coordinates the MLP operations in this field, acting as a ‘general contractor’ to the life insurance companies involved. MLP Versicherung AG is the central service center for non–life insurance. MLP Login GmbH is the IT service provider for the MLP group. It is responsible for the technical development and operation of the Internet platform and customer consulting systems.
The goal of MLP is to offer its customers integrated solutions for their financial needs using the best products on the market. Therefore, MLP Finanzdienstleistungen AG integrates product mod- ules of partner companies and complements them with products of MLP product providers (MLP Bank, MLP Lebensversicherung, and MLP Versicherung). Figure 6.5 shows the business model of MLP (Stockmann 2003).
In the product development process, the MLP product providers develop products that comple- ment products of external product providers. The resulting banking, life insurance, and non– life insurance products can then be bundled with external partner products by MLP Finanzdienstleistungen AG to receive integrated solutions (MLP best-partner concept) that can be tailored to a customer’s needs.
In the offer management process, clients are advised by an MLP consultant according to their overall financial needs. Depending on the client’s needs, a customer consultant can offer products of external partner companies, MLP products, or integrated solutions comprising modules of external partner companies as well as MLP products. After the conclusion of a contract, contract management is carried through decentrally by the respective MLP product provider.
Each customer has one customer consultant as his single point of entry. Complaint manage- ment and service management are handled centrally by the respective customer consultant. Also, each customer consultant is responsible for acquiring additional customers in the lead manage- ment process. Moreover, customer consultants are supported by central campaign management activities carried through by MLP Finanzdienstleistungen AG.
The business model of MLP is enabled by a modular, but highly integrated IT landscape (Figure 6.6). IT’s strategic objective is to enable the distributed management and processing of products
and contracts by the MLP product providers while allowing customer consultants (and the cus- tomer himself) to obtain an integrated view of information on a customer (needs, products, activi- ties) (Mehlau 2001; Stockmann 2004).
Consulting and Contracting Applications. The beginning of the consulting process is the so- called ‘fact finding.’ The consultant uses different consulting applications to enter customer mas- ter data and to find out the customer’s financial goals. Typical consulting applications are modules for liquidity planning, asset management, risk management, and loan management. All customer data gathered in the consulting process are transferred into a central customer database (broker pilot). Therefore, customer consultants can always use the customer data gathered so far.
At the end of the consulting process, about 80 percent of customer data is available to fill out a contract. Depending on the product that a customer wants to buy, some additional data may be needed. These data are entered into a contracting application by a customer consultant. The con- tracting application can get already-gathered customer data from the broker pilot database. For some commodity products (e.g., car insurance) the respective contracting applications can also be accessed by customers directly via the Internet.
After entering all needed customer data, the contracting application sends it to the broker platform of the MLP product provider that offers the respective product.
Broker Platforms. The broker platforms are used to create and manage contracts. In contrast to classical brokers that have no influence on data processing after the initial transfer of a contract to an external product provider, the MLP product providers process accounts, deposits, and con- tracts on their own broker platforms. Therefore, they have all customer data in their own systems. This is a prerequisite to realize the integrated view of customers in order to consult them compre- hensively. The broker platforms have interfaces to transaction systems of external product provid- ers. Figure 6.7 shows the application architecture of the broker platform of MLP Bank.
Broker Pilot. The broker pilot is the central database for customer master data. It stores all cus- tomer data gathered in the consulting and contracting process. Moreover, it stores the relations between customers, customer consultants, and products (contract IDs). Detailed contract and product data are not stored in the broker pilot because they are available in the broker platforms. The connection to a customer’s products on the broker platforms is realized via contract IDs.
The broker pilot serves as data source for consulting and contracting applications, as well as for the finance pilot. It is also the source for analytical CRM systems which analyze unusual customer activities and customer potential for new consulting outlets.
Finance Pilot. The finance pilot is a Web-based system which integrates all customer data from different systems (broker pilot and broker platforms) to realize an integrated view of a customer. It can be used both by customer consultants and by customers themselves. In addition, it offers functions for electronic banking and brokerage. The finance pilot can be realized because MLP has all customer data and contract data available on its own systems and can integrate this infor- mation using a unique customer ID in all systems.