By Tim Bakkenes, Client Director, New Zealand

My parents, having emigrated to New Zealand from the Netherlands in the 1970’s with nothing but $360 in their pockets, instilled into me a strong work ethic from an early age. They taught me the value of money and that in order to succeed I had to find ways of working smarter – not just harder.

At age 10 I was competitively selling chocolate bars for fundraising activity through primary school. I realised door knocking was slow going and selling the chocolates in bulk to convenience stores was a more effective strategy. I sold the most bars by a significant margin that year. From age 12, I held a paper route where I optimised the route and paper-folding strategy, (yes, it’s a real strategy!) to complete my task in half the time.

After graduating, I held an assortment of roles across multiple industries, including time as a chef at a five-star resort, working in sales for an international cargo airline, as well as volunteering for the fire service, which has exposed me to different ways of working.

I first entered financial services in a front-line bank role twenty years ago, before moving into a variety of positions across banking, investment, insurance, and advice. My technical bent led me to the fintech space in 2011. I became fascinated with the role of technology within financial services and the opportunities to help organisations work smarter, touching on a core value imparted by my parents all those years ago.

Joining Bravura:

The next step in my financial services career led me to join Bravura in 2021 responsible for account management and growth in New Zealand. I remember three distinct impressions within my first few months at Bravura:

  1. Our products contribute heavily to the ongoing success of our customers;
  2. We have the opportunity to deliver meaningful benefits to our clients and their 1.5 million customer accounts and policies with our products and services;
  3. I can do all of this while working with a cool, talented bunch of people!

My role sits within the APAC Account Management team. We have a clear focus on supporting Bravura’s growth plan. Together we work to develop and execute our business development and client plan strategies.

No two days are ever the same. One day you might see me working with prospective organisations to highlight where our products and services can generate value for them. On another, you might see me creating commercial proposals, leading contract renewals for existing clients, participating in industry forums or events, or preparing for and conducting customer governance meetings.

I’m also passionate about fostering a supportive workplace environment. In that spirit, I’m proud to participate in Bravura’s Diversity and Inclusiveness (D&I) programme as APAC lead for the bWell initiative. bWell is Bravura’s mental health and wellbeing program staffed by trained colleagues who serve as Mental Health First Aiders and champions. They provide confidential support and guidance to colleagues and advocate for mental health awareness within the company.

Returning to growth:

2023 was a busy year for Bravura in New Zealand. We successfully executed multiple contract renewals in line with our Group growth and product strategy. We also completed a migration project which saw us onboard one of New Zealand’s big four bank’s insurance book on to our market-leading wealth management solution, Sonata, following a major acquisition by one of our existing clients.

In addition, we also completed a cloud project that saw us successfully migrate Sonata from on-prem to the Bravura Cloud for the life business unit of one of the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance companies. This is part of our wider group strategy to further help our clients streamline operations, increase efficiencies, and reduce costs.

We also commenced an intensive market scan exercise, including detailed workshops with current and prospective customers, to assess the current KiwiSaver operating model and determine how Sonata Alta can add value and help shape the blueprint for the industry in the future. Market feedback has been hugely encouraging and we are currently pursuing several promising opportunities.

Looking ahead:

In New Zealand, we primarily serve two segments – KiwiSaver and Investments, and Life Insurance.
With both markets facing heightened regulatory pressures and consumer expectations, Bravura is uniquely placed to assist by offering solutions that:

  • Enhance operational efficiency through automated operating models, freeing up resources for providers to focus on value-add activities for customers.
  • Create a seamless customer experience through digital platforms, empowering policyholders and members with self-service options and fostering greater transparency and convenience.
  • Provide flexibility to scale and adapt to changing market conditions through modern cloud architecture, allowing providers to continue to grow whilst adapting to evolving market conditions without significant infrastructure investments.
  • Enable providers to reach more members and deliver personalised advice at scale, fostering deeper member engagement, while streamlining operational efficiency through digital advice and engagement tools.

This is a very exciting time for New Zealand’s financial services industry. Bravura’s comprehensive suite of solutions are at the ready to empower the country’s life insurers and KiwiSaver providers to navigate the dynamic financial services landscape, ensuring they remain compliant, efficient, and customer-centric in the years to come.

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