Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual ($92.1 billion in assets) recently launched an online funds transfer capability for variable life and annuity policyholders that was co-developed with Infosys Technologies, Ltd. (Bangalore, India).
The application, which allows customers to make immediate transfers from their accounts, eliminates potential delays associated with processing allocation changes and asset transfer requests, according to Phil Zwieg, vice president of information systems for Northwestern Mutual. "Due to daily market fluctuations, variable life and annuity customers wanted the ability to view fund values online and have the option to change how their investment funds are allocated," Zwieg says, adding that customers need the ability to make account changes any time of the day or night without having to rely on a call center. "We wanted to build this functionality quickly, and our prior experience with Infosys had been that they deliver the highest quality results on time and within budget."
According to Phaneesh Murthy, Infosys board member and head of worldwide sales and marketing, Northwestern Mutual has been a client for more than five years, starting with Y2K preparations in 1996. For the current funds-transfer application, "about 35 percent of the work was done in Milwaukee and 65 percent done in India," Murthy says. "The final product is being hosted by Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee."
Faced with an aggressive product-delivery time frame, Northwestern Mutual was able to develop the application 24 hours a day because of Infosys' three development centers in India. "Insurance companies are very conservative," Murthy says. "As a whole, the insurance industry started to offer online transactions much later than their banking counterparts. But when they started, they wanted the online functionality 'yesterday,' and that is the timeframe we faced with the Northwestern Mutual application."
Murthy, who says that Infosys works with a number of insurance companiesincluding New York Life and a few subsidiaries of AIGadds that although "insurers may have been late to the online game, they are now being very aggressive with their development." He notes, "Some people come late to parties, but when they do they become the life of the party," referring to the increased presence of insurance companies and the technology investments they bring to the online space.
Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio