Established in 1848, Prudential is a well known international financial services company with 16 million customers, policyholders and unit holders and 20,000 employees worldwide. In the UK, Prudential is a leading life and pensions provider with over seven million customers. Its products are distributed through a number of channels including Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs). The UK business currently employs 6,000 people located in offices in Stirling, Reading, Belfast, London, Dublin and India. PruTech is Prudential's IT division.
In the late 1990s, Prudential acquired Scottish Amicable Life plc. Scottish Amicable continued to trade independently until 2003 when it transferred to the Prudential brand. Scottish Amicable has its own legacy systems that are different to those used by Prudential. Its automatic EDI message exchange system is based on an ISOTRADE platform. PruTech decided to replace this with the Integration Broker from Axway.
Reducing the paper trail
As a major financial services company, Prudential UK needs to exchange high volumes of data on a daily basis. The Inland Revenue, the Department of Work and Pensions and IFAs all need to be kept up to date with accurate information. By May 2005, it will be compulsory to provide some information required by the Inland Revenue via EDI.
PruTech's relationship with Axway began in 1994, when it selected the Integration Broker to facilitate the exchange of EDI messages between its annuities business and the Inland Revenue. To begin with this was mainly P45 and P46 information, replacing a manual system to eliminate errors and reduce costs.
Making the most of EDI
Over time, Prudential UK's use of the Integration Broker has developed. It now enables payroll services to exchange P6 (tax code changes) and P14 (annual contributions returns) information with the Inland Revenue. Every month pension forecasting data is exchanged with the Department of Work and Pensions and commission information is sent to about 20 IFA networks on a daily basis. Information exchanged with IFAs complies with the Origo standard for message transfer, developed for the Life, Pensions and Collective Investment industry.
By implementing the Integration Broker from Axway, Prudential can use its EDI infrastructure efficiently. Developers do not have to build bespoke links to exchange information with different organisations' systems. The Integration Broker from Axway translates information into a standard format and routes it as required.
Prudential UK has recently upgraded to a newer version of the Integration Broker. Martin Booker, EDI Analyst Programmer in PruTech UK said: "Like our previous implementations, this one went without a hitch. Axway has always been very responsive and any problems have been overcome quickly through their telephone support."
Lower costs, auditable transactions
With the Integration Broker from Axway, fewer people are handling the data that is exchanged, so accuracy is less likely to be compromised. Staff are freed up to spend time on other tasks. The huge reduction in paper transactions compared to ten years ago has resulted in large savings on postal costs. From a technology point of view, Prudential UK has traditionally used X400 as the communications link for EDI traffic. Its move to IP-based communications will reduce costs even further by reducing network carrier charges.
While cost reduction is always welcome, the benefits of the Integration Broker are even greater. It ensures that the information exchange process is easy to track and that auditing becomes much simpler. The life and pensions industry is operating in an increasingly regulated environment with a requirement for greater reporting and transparency. Regulations such as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Integrated Prudential Source Book (IPSB) and Sarbanes Oxley all require focus on strong governance structures, control environments and risk management processes.
Prudential UK is very satisfied with Axway Integration Broker. Booker explains: "The software just works - it is very robust and we rarely have any problems with it. I don't recall ever having any messages delayed because of the Integration Broker software over the ten years we have been using it. That is quite something. "