Suppose your organization decided to leverage OutRank®, the financial forecasting API, in its digital and hybrid financial journeys. Where do you start and how do you ensure you get the most out of our analytics? We talked to Kidbrooke®’s Customer Success Team to shed some light on the onboarding and maintenance processes, the client requirements and internal expertise needed to ensure that our clients achieve their goals using our technology.
The onboarding process looks different depending on the size of the client and the initial use case but it is usually a simple and straightforward process to set up the necessary authentications and enable the client to call any relevant endpoints using our available API documentation and code examples.
However, as part of an onboarding process we also help with the technical implementation of our financial forecasting API that involves setting up a relevant number of environments (for example, one environment for acceptance tests, and one for production), explaining the process of setting up the authentication, sending over and walking through documentation of our Economic Scenario Generator (ESG), balance sheet simulator as well as code examples, underlying model documentation as well as code examples.
In addition, we facilitate discussions around the use case(s) to be built. Here we can give input on four key topics. First, we can advise on the general structure of the UI and customer journeys, based on our previous client experiences and end-customer feedback. Second, we can walk you through the necessary steps, sections and relevant input fields that we would suggest using in the UI. Third, we can provide you with best practices on visualizing the output from the financial forecasting software, for instance, forecasts, future cash flows, financial advice or statistical measures. Finally, we can help you with the placement and formulation of explanatory texts about the calculations and visualizations of forecasts, risk profiling process and advice to show for the end-customer.
From a back-end perspective, we explain in detail which endpoints are relevant to use for a particular use case. If needed, we educate our clients by showing them how to set up the requests and how to interpret the calculation results.
Importantly, in each of the client cases we set up a structure for ongoing support, assign an account manager from our side and offer 24/7 support via email.
The integration process is rather straightforward and could be done in several days for all types of use cases. However, OutRank® is usually part of a larger puzzle, so it often takes longer to build a financial journey ready for release to end-customers. Since OutRank® is a stateless API without any UI components, a client would typically need to ensure that the following important components are in place: access to end-customer data, either stored in a database or obtained through input fields in a UI; a database storing relevant results, for example to be used for following up a financial investment or goal; and a UI for the customer journey/platform.
Hence, the time it takes to be up and running is heavily affected by the overall scope of the project and its progress at the time of our contact. However, many of our clients could integrate the financial forecasting functionality of OutRank®, set up the surrounding infrastructure and build a UI in under 6 months.
It helps if the client has a team of developers, but we strive to be backward compatible when releasing new API versions minimizing maintenance work. Hence, maintenance work is more connected to building out and maintaining the orchestrating application and the UI rather than the integration with OutRank®.
If the client is a smaller player without relevant expertise in-house, we can integrate the financial forecasting API with a third-party provider building or offering the orchestrating application and the UI. Additionally, we can recommend a third-party provider who would provide a platform where the third-party controls the orchestrating application as well as data storage, lowering the maintenance costs for the client.
First, we start with learning what our client aims to achieve, both short-term (for example, with their first use case) and long-term. This process usually involves trying to answer questions like “What is the first and most prioritized use case?”, “Is the end goal building a stand-alone investment customer journey, or a more holistic use case where the institution would simulate the end-customers’ entire balance sheet?”. By engaging in this discussion, we strive to envision our clients’ digitalisation roadmap, so we can be assured that the client's and our internal development process are aligned.
It is also critical to involve all relevant stakeholders, both in the initial integration phase and over time since their needs in relation to using OutRank® can differ. This way we seek to understand and meet the specific needs of, for example, the institution’s developers and product owners.
In addition, we always aim to develop a long-term relationship with our clients to receive continuous feedback for improving OutRank®. We regularly update the financial forecasting software with new functionalities based on our clients’ needs, as well as restructure the API and its endpoints to achieve better user-friendliness and meet ever-evolving customer expectations.
Maintenance Most of our maintenance work revolves around assuring that our economic scenarios and mathematical models are as accurate, up-to-date and robust as possible. This process includes monthly, quarterly and yearly validation reports of our economic scenario generator, financial forecasting model, risk profiling and advice functionalities. Moreover, we provide a yearly update of tax and pension rules in place, as well as other configurable variables such as life expectancy and salary growth assumptions.
Training We strive to ensure that our clients understand how OutRank® works and how the underlying calculations are performed. During the onboarding phase, we always explain the API and its underlying calculations, but continue updating our clients when new functionality is released or when the existing API endpoints are updated. Where required, we organise meetings to answer specific questions about the financial forecasting API and its use cases, for instance, when new developers join the client’s team.
There are three components to our approach. First, we ensure a quick response should any queries arise. Second, we always start with understanding the client’s roadmap so that all OutRank® updates are aligned with the customer goals. Third, we are committed to continuously updating and demoing new functionality of our financial forecasting API to clients.
We are always open to new ideas from clients and their end-customers. For example one of clients, Skandia, received multiple requests from end-customers to add functionality into the already live pension advice customer journey. They requested to add the option of what might happen should the user choose to retire earlier than the statutory pension age and to add any salary sacrifice to the forecast. We added the extension of this customer journey to the existing financial forecasting endpoints in OutRank® which went live just a few months later.
We strive to deliver a superior customer experience to our customers by combining several techniques. First, we ensure that our customers are always up-to-date with the latest functionality updates of OutRank® and aware of how to use them to either extend their existing services or build new use cases. Second, we keep our ESG and financial forecasting API as flexible and customisable as possible. This is done, for instance, by offering our clients the possibility to influence how their investment products are represented by OutRank®’s risk factors, include their own house views in the forecasts and to extend the risk factor universe if needed.