Interview with Thierry DA SILVA from APICIL Épargne for Novelis

In order to become the French leader in life insurance, APICIL Épargne decided to launch a major project to modernize, containerize and urbanize its information system. It is in this context that Novelis has been supporting APICIL Épargne for 4 years in their digital transformation on strategic subjects.

Find below the interview of Thierry DA SILVA, digital director for APICIL Épargne.

Question 1 : Can you introduce yourself and your position?

Hello, my name is Thierry Da Silva and I am the digital director for APICIL Épargne

Question 2 : Can you tell you present us the business activity of APICIL?

Through a close and caring relationship supporting all lives, all life, that’s what the APICIL group is all about and APICIL Epargne is part of this mission since we seek every day to give everyone access to the best savings solutions with a close, ethical and responsible relationship.

Question 3 : How is your department organized?

The Digital Factory is a service of 60 technology enthusiasts, but not only. We are above all like all the actors of APICIL Epargne, experience makers. I think that’s an important point.

We rely on technology to make experiences and we have an absolutely extraordinary playground at APICIL Epargne. Since we really have the opportunity, through our three distribution networks, GRESHAM Private Bank, Intencial, APICIL Connect, to serve absolutely all clients, whether they are vulnerable retirees, minors, wealthy young professionals or not.

We have a solution for everyone!

Question 4 : Tell us about APICIL’s digital strategy

We began our digital transformation in a significant way five years ago with a platform approach. There were several periods of times. The first was to propose solutions with zero digital disruption. Indeed, as soon as there is an irritant in the customer’s journey, we lose him. If a wealth management advisor has to print a paper at some point he or she does his or her work entirely on paper and therefore we lose the value. So that was one of the fundamental moments in our transformation.

The second step was the opening. Thanks to APIs, we now have the possibility of interconnecting with all the players in the market, even going so far as to coopetition.

In a third step, we automated. It is absolutely essential to allow our clients to have their files processed in less than a day.

And finally, it’s ultra-customization, with the industrialization of customized products that we can now offer to all our partners thanks to our on demand product offer.

Question 5 : What has been the impact of your digital transformation?

We are very proud of the results we have obtained, since in 5 years, we managed to increase the volume of files by 15 times. For 1 year, we have had more than 90% of subscription, arbitration and payment files and KYC files have been processed in full digital mode without any digital break.

Two thirds of customer files are also processed without human intervention in full automatic mode, which allows us to serve them in less than 24 hours. We have also become the reference platform for FinTechs since we have succeeded in supporting numerous startups including Mon Petit Placement, Caravelle, Artur Vie, Ramify and FunShop. And then now, we also work with Zalpha and Visionnaire and we also have B2B offers in particular thanks to Advize.

I think it is important to highlight that every strategy has its share of luck, of success. There is a term that is widely used in the world of entrepreneurship: serendipity. And it is true that COVID has allowed us to propel our offer, has really accelerated usage. But if this epidemic had happened a year earlier, we were less close. We would not have been able to serve our customers as well. And I think our transformation would have been less significant. The meeting also with FinTechs, we hadn’t necessarily shared the capabilities of our platform. We met them a bit by chance and we were lucky enough to find talented actors who needed what was on offer.

So the part of success, the part of chance, is extremely important in a strategy. In fact, today, we evolve in an uncertain environment and I think that the ability of organizations to adapt to this uncertainty, to experiment, to pivot, to succeed.

Question 6 : How did you manage the change at both the IT and business levels?

The issue of change is an important one and I’m glad you asked me because indeed, in this digital age, we evolve continuously in uncertainty. All markets can be dynamized in a few months by a new entrant. It is therefore essential and decisive to accurately install change in a continuous, progressive and permanent way. That’s why from the beginning, we decided to do production releases every six weeks. It allows us to experiment, to test the field and to have the feedback very regularly and to readjust our offer. Today, all the businesses and departments we work with are absolutely delighted with this way of working since there is no longer the need to frame, to have a firm offer, we can really work with our users.

Our users are also delighted since very regularly they have something new and they look forward to our newsletters to discover what innovative things we bring to them and how we will improve their experience.

Question 7 : Tell us about the project with Novelis

We met Novelis in 2018, while we were developing our strategic plan, and we needed a company capable of supporting us on traditional software engineering issues but above all in our will, in our approach to automate to better serve the customer.

Then we discovered a company with the same determination as us to create experiences, to disrupt uses And it’s been four years, almost to the day, that we have a happy and ambitious partnership.

Question 8 : What is the future of this project today?

For institutions and dominant design it is often a brake on disruption. We realize that today we can no longer innovate alone. We are entering what I characterize as the era of combined services.

Before, we created projects, today we create experiences. We have to get out of this project paradigm to enter a paradigm of value creation, of experience creation and install its know-how at the right level of the value chain. And with our platform, today we really have the opportunity, the ability to work with all market players, to combine and enrich our customers’ journey and our users. So the future of the project I think it will be a lot in the services.

At a time when offers tend to design, be standardized, to be part of a dominant we are going to have, all the actors of the market, the obligation to be able to offer our customers and users new services that we will not be able to provide alone.

When we talk about the FinTechs we work with, for us it’s a huge opportunity. They provide distribution to customers we would never have met. They allow us to have a contact with customers that we would never have had the chance to meet, to increase our interaction surface. So that’s what we’re going to have to do in the future.

There are obviously technological issues, but I think the issues are going to be very organizational and structural.

Question 9 : What do you think is the added value of Novelis?

The partnership with Novelis took hold in 2018. First, because Novelis seemed to us to be a player that could execute well and “execution is strategy.” 4 years later, we are absolutely delighted with the results we have with them.

But what particularly caught our attention at Novelis is its R&D department, which allows it to be continually at the cutting edge of technology and to support us on the opportunities of the technologies in our desire to optimize our customers’ experiences. We also paid particular attention to the work carried out by Novelis around Artificial Intelligence and RPA. But above all, since the beginning of the year we have launched two important initiatives around No-Code and Process Mining that will take us to the next level. We are very confident about the results we will achieve with this technology.

Question 10 : If you had to summarize Novelis in one word?

If I had to characterize in one word what summarizes the relationship we have with Novelis. It would be the audacity. The audacity to respect the history and therefore the legacy. The audacity to undertake and the audacity to rely on very advanced technologies not always necessarily mature

Question 11 : What do you think will be the next innovation in your sector?

The first challenge that the institutions will have to face is to become successful in Tech.

In fact we often talk about moving from Insurance to an InsurTech. So it is to set up and deploy its strategy of platformization. We are happy, we managed to reach a good level of maturity on it but I think the market will be established first on this strategic axis. Thanks to the platforms, it will be much easier to combine and to create experiences.

I believe a lot in the advent of Citizen developers so perhaps technologies such as No-Code and Low Code since we will have to accelerate, we will have to push offers very quickly, it will be necessary to have an extremely short Go To Market.

A second important issue is obviously data, without necessarily talking about Artificial Intelligence. First, the data must be of good quality and I also think that this era of combined services will optimize these issues which are often very complex.

I think because of the technology and also the ease of creating experiences, we are going to live an important moment for all the companies. This is the digital revolution, which has certainly already begun, will really accelerate and it will be a great pleasure, I think, for all the actors to be able to rely on an extraordinary value chain and create again, I’m sorry I say it again, positive experiences.

The digital revolution is just beginning so let’s all be daring and experience makers.