Data points to the right
direction. Human foresight
shows the way.

Data plays an increasingly crucial role in private and business life. Whether big data, artificial intelligence or machine learning are involved: at its core, it’s always about using data to solve problems. Which stock best suits a particular port­folio? How can we ensure that clients are provided with the information that is really important to them? And how can we ensure that this happens at the right time? For VP Bank, data analytics is a pioneering topic and therefore also has relevance for strategy.

Project Manager Sasha Wäger reports on her experiences so far, showing why humans and not machines are at the centre of the Data Analytics initiative and explaining how our clients can benefit from it.

The topic of data analytics is
shaping our everyday lives.

VP Bank has launched the strategic initiative Data Analytics. What was the impetus for this, and what objectives are to be achieved with it?

The topic of data analytics is every­where you look. Big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning are shaping our everyday lives in ways we are cognizant of as well as in less apparent ways. To put it in simple terms, it is about being able to use data systematically, which is also the goal of our initiative. We are already working with data today, of course, but we can and want to get better at it – be it in the identification of relevant data, in data analysis or in data processing. We would also like to benefit from the experiences of other sectors. The field is both exciting and incredibly dynamic. Off the top of my head, I would mention examples like Google, Netflix or Tesla. It is truly impressive to see what is possible with data.

VP Bank is already working with data systematically today. Is it also making use of data analytics?

A good example is fraud detection, which involves detecting payment fraud and stopping associated payments before they are made. All incoming and outgoing payment orders are screened, and any anomalies found are filtered out. All of this happens automatically on the basis of known patterns. Humans would never be able to conduct such screening with the necessary speed and efficiency.

However, the significant cases are then handed over to our specialists. This is because a trained eye and questions posed by the client advisors are also important for detecting actual cases of fraud. This combination allows us to ensure that fraudulent payments have the highest possible pro­bability of being prevented while simultaneously avoiding incorrect blocking of payments to the greatest extent possible – as this can also have negative con­sequences on clients.

The initiative was already launched in 2020. Are there any initial results to report?

Yes. From the very beginning, we pledged to implement a very specific and important use case in our business: personalisation of investment proposals. Using an agile approach, we were able to accomplish a great deal in very little time. For example, we quickly took note of which data is helpful, where stumbling blocks lie and how we can format the proposals as intuitively as possible. This resulted in a proto­type that now allows us to test our hypotheses and gain experience in everyday life. The initial feedback is quite promising.

Could you be more specific? How is it possible to personalise investment pro­posals on the basis of data here?

The ultimate goal is to provide our clients with invest­ment proposals that they find interesting. To do this, we use two approaches in parallel. We first define rules for each investment idea, which we then match with the portfolio character­istics and investment preferences. We also analyse the relevant portfolio along with comparable port­folios and derive the probability that an investment idea will be a good fit. The second approach is familiar from Netflix, where a new series is referred to as a “92 per cent match” based on feedback from other users, for example. All this happens in the back­ground on a fully automatic basis, of course. We then want to allow our client advisors to display at the click of a mouse their clientele’s 10 portfolios for which the investment idea best fits.

Will tools like this someday make personal client advice un­necessary?

No, on the contrary. We are in the fortunate position of having very qualified and committed client advisors at our side, along with motivated young talent coming up through the ranks. They are our mouthpiece not only to the outside world but also inter­nally; through our colleagues in the front office, we receive important information on how the interests and needs of our clients are changing. On the basis of data analytics, we can seek out solutions and thereby simplify the everyday life of our client advisors – so they can give their full attention to their clients.

That all sounds great, but there are also many concerns about how data is handled – Facebook comes to mind. How does VP Bank approach this issue?

Handling data in a secure manner that earns our clients’ trust is a matter of course for us. As a bank, we have always taken this topic very seriously, and it is always at the top of our agenda: whether it involves the question of what data we can use, how and where it is stored, who may have access to it, which partners we work with or which technical solution is implemented.

Handling data in a secure
that earns our clients’
trust is a matter of course for us.
As a bank, we have always taken
this topic very seriously.

Another thing is also very important to us: you can learn a lot and do your work much better by using data, but you can also get many things wrong by mis­inter­preting data. It is therefore of key importance for us that we are always internally capable of under­standing the data sources and analysis methods and that we can critically scrutinise the results.

And what is the future of the initiative – what will the future bring?

We are currently in the process of building the new data platform, thereby laying the technical foundation for the future. This will allow us to seam­lessly link the different data sources in future, to quickly test use cases and to generally make efficient use of the data. By the way, we already deter­mined the require­ments for the data platform last year, for which it was necessary to identify more than 50 potential use cases through­out the bank. We will not be able to implement all of them immediately, of course, but we want to look at some of them in more depth this year and build at least one more proto­type.

How will this affect clients?

The client experience will get better and client satis­faction will increase through faster answers, better invest­ment proposals, new solutions or more time for the advisory consultation, for example. Ideally, the clients will not even notice whether a change has been made in the back­ground and what exactly has changed.

We are convinced that
efficient use of data improve the
experience for the client.

We are convinced that efficient use and linking of data can simplify many processes and thus also improve the experience for the client. We are working towards this goal together with the other strategic initiatives. Through even better and more flexible communication channels, stream­lined processes and our excellent network of internal and external partners, we want to give clients the best of both worlds, both that of human beings and that of machines, on a lasting basis.

Sasha Wäger

Sasha Wäger

Data Analytics Project Manager

Sasha Wäger is Project Manager of the strategic initiative Data Analytics, with responsi­bility for project and process management in the Chief Investment Officer unit. In her work with the projects, she relies on an agile approach and concentrates in particular on the inter­face between tech­nology and business. Sasha Wäger holds a master’s degree in Business and Economics from the University of Bern and was able to get to know various divisions of VP Bank Group through her participation in the Career Start programme.