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Management Strategies

11:56 AM
Vicki Gerson
Vicki Gerson
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First National Bank Omaha responds to customer demand for online wealth planning.

Initially, banks implemented basic online services to provide added value to their customers. As the channel has gained popularity, the demand for more-advanced Web services is growing. Now, banks are adding wealth planning to their Web offerings.

First National Bank Omaha (Omaha, Neb.; $6 billion in total assets), a subsidiary of First National Nebraska Inc., introduced an online wealth planning service powered by Advice-America's (Fremont, Calif.) LifeVision software in December 2004. LifeVision compliments the bank's online services, notes Tom Haller, SVP at First National Bank Omaha. "Our customers have been using the Internet for their checking, credit card and loan needs," he says. "Now, they can pull all their financial planning together and receive comprehensive, automated financial advice."

More than 40 percent of First National Bank Omaha's customers bank online, "above the industry average of 20 to 30 percent," notes Mary Wilcox, the bank's VP of consumer e-commerce.

Based on a customer survey, the bank identified a demand for financial planning services. At the end of 2001, Wilcox began a search for service providers. She was looking for an application that was easy to use and provided sophisticated advice. But, most important, she wanted an outsourced solution.

During 2002, Wilcox participated in online demos with most of the companies she had identified. She also sought feedback on the products from employees on the investment side of the bank. In the second quarter of 2004, Wilcox decided to go with AdviceAmerica. "It was easy to select AdviceAmerica," she says. "The company was the premier provider."

Version 3.0 of the LifeVision software offers three tiers: LifeVision Express provides advice tailored for customers who are trying financial planning for the first time, allowing online users to complete most plans in 10 minutes or less; LifeVision Goal Planners presents short-term goals for critical planning concerns such as retirement, education, insurance, debt management and home buying; and LifeVision Comprehensive Planner provides users with detailed long-term financial plans.

Since the solution is outsourced, the bank did not need to add any hardware to its technology. The solution was branded with First National Bank Omaha's logos, and text was customized accordingly. The bank's financial advisers and customer service reps were brought up to speed with just four hours of training.

One Password to Rule Them All

One enhancement was made to the application - a single sign-on capability was added so customers could access the service directly from First National Bank Omaha's Web site without additional authentication. The bank spent $30,000 for its internal development - less than 1 percent of its technology budget. Monthly fees also are paid to AdviceAmerica based on the number of online users.

According to Heller, LifeVision not only provides customers with extensive educational offerings, it generates sales leads for the bank. Currently, the bank receives monthly downloads from AdviceAmerica on customers who used the service and their financial planning goals. The bank is examining ways to tap that information, Heller relates, including developing a weekly query tool for more-immediate follow-up.

"Our goal is to generate enough sales to pay for this service, which gives us a better opportunity to obtain leads for investment product sales," says Heller. "By providing more value to our customers, the results will be that customers stay with the bank for a longer period of time."


INSTITUTION: First National Bank Omaha (Omaha, Neb.; a subsidiary of First National Nebraska Inc.)

ASSETS: $6 billion (FNNI: $16 billion).

BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Address the financial planning needs of online customers while generating sales leads for the bank.

SOLUTION: AdviceAmerica (Fremont, Calif.) LifeVision wealth planning software.

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