MySuper environment signals role of technology optimised member engagement

Bravura Solutions Limited (Bravura)(ASX: BVA), a leading global supplier of transfer agency, wealth management & life insurance software applications and related professional services, reports that there is greater opportunity than ever before for the superannuation industry to engage with customer

via Pocket June 03, 2013 at 06:41PM

Bravura Solutions provides portal integration behind Aviva’s online adviser system

Bravura Solutions Limited (Bravura)(ASX: BVA), a leading global supplier of transfer agency, wealth management and life insurance software applications and professional services, today announced the successful completion of a joint project with Citi and Aviva to incorporate its Bravura hosted wrap

via Pocket June 03, 2013 at 06:39PM

Sony’s Bread and Butter? It’s Not Electronics, it’s Insurance and Financial Services

Sony’s Bread and Butter? It’s Not Electronics, it’s Insurance and Financial Services

Sony has made money making Hollywood movies and selling music. That profitable part of the business is what Daniel S. Loeb, an American investor and manager of the hedge fund Third Point, wants Sony to spin off to raise cash to resuscitate its electronics business.

But as Mr. Loeb pressures Sony executives to do more to revive the company’s ailing electronics arm, some analysts are asking, Why bother?

Sony, it is suggested, might be better off just selling insurance.

Or just making movies and music. But not electronics.

A new report from the investment banking firm Jefferies delivered a harsh assessment of Sony’s electronics business. “Electronics is its Achilles’ heel and, in our view, it is worth zero,” wrote Atul Goyal, consumer technology analyst for Jefferies, in the report, released this week.

“In our view, it needs to exit most electronics markets.”

The maker of the Walkman and the Trinitron without electronics? What would it do?

Although Sony sells hundreds of products as varied as batteries and head-mounted 3-D displays, it so happens that Sony’s most successful business is selling insurance. While it doesn’t run this business in the United States or Europe, Sony makes a lot of money writing life, auto and medical policies in Japan.

Its financial arm accounts for 63 percent of Sony’s total operating profit last year. Life insurance has been its biggest moneymaker over the last decade, earning the company 933 billion yen ($9.07 billion) in operating profit in the 10 years that ended in March.

Sony’s film and music divisions, which produced hits like the Spider-Man movies and “Zero Dark Thirty” and recorded musicians like the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the electronic music duo Daft Punk, have contributed $7 billion to the company’s bottom line over the last decade.

In that time, Sony’s electronics division has lost a cumulative $8.5 billion.

Hardly Sony’s crown jewels, experts say.

“The problem is that the board is still absolutely focused on fixing electronics,” said Kouji Yamada, a visiting professor at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo and research director of Mission Value Partners, a Sonoma, Calif., investment company.

Sony’s chief executive, Kazuo Hirai, said last Wednesday that its board would consider Third Point’s proposal, even as it emphasized that the discussions were preliminary and that it had not set a time for a response.

But to a small band of analysts, Mr. Loeb’s prescriptions for Sony are shortsighted, merely milking the company’s profit-making content business for good money to throw after the bad.

As proof of the untenable future facing Sony’s electronics, critics point to its televisions and smartphones. Competition is intense, and in cellphones Sony remains a bit player. Even where it is more successful, in digital cameras or game consoles, it is struggling to stay abreast of stronger companies.

Sheer lack of managerial attention could soon start to hurt Sony’s insurance and entertainment divisions, Mr. Yamada warned. Sony Financial Holdings, a publicly traded company of which Sony owns 60 percent, has been underperforming its peers on the Tokyo stock exchange. Its share price has risen just 4 percent this year, compared to a 36 percent increase in shares of its rival, Dai-ichi Life Insurance.

And in the entertainment business, where alliances and tie-ups are starting to dominate strategy, Sony’s film and music units could be slowed by having to deal with a board that sits in Tokyo and does not have its hand on the pulse of a fast-moving industry, Mr. Yamada said.

“Maneuvering three completely different industries, that’s too much,” Mr. Yamada said. “These should all be separate companies.”

Sony maintains that its varied units make up a coherent whole. But the history of how it acquired its hodgepodge of companies suggests otherwise.

Sony’s co-founder, Akio Morita, first got the idea of buying a finance company on a trip to the United States in the 1950s to promote the company’s new transistor radio, according to an official recounting of its corporate history. On that trip, Mr. Morita was stunned by the sight of Chicago’s skyscrapers, especially the Prudential Building that dominated the Chicago skyline.

“Why would a life insurance company have such an enormous building?” Mr. Morita marveled. “One day, we will also establish our own bank or financial institution and build a building like that.”

Mr. Morita’s wish was finally granted in 1981, when Sony started a life insurance venture in Japan with Prudential, the large American insurance company. Perhaps disappointingly, Sony Financial Holdings has its headquarters on the fourth floor of a nondescript midrise building in Tokyo.

Sony’s acquisitions of Columbia Pictures and CBS Records in the late 1980s got a lot more attention. Mr. Morita, a co-founder of Sony, and another executive, Norio Ohga, had long contended that content was crucial in promoting Sony’s expanding electronics universe, first wading into music with a venture with CBS Records in 1968.

But infighting between hardware and movies hindered that objective from the start, as did misaligned incentives that led Sony to wrestle with how to build devices that let consumers download and copy content without undermining sales at its music labels or film studios.

“Sony has tried to make this strategy work for a long time,” said Gerhard Fasol, president of the Tokyo technology consulting firm Eurotechnology Japan, “But it’s never really worked. Each part would be better competing on its own.”

Insurance never had that conflict. Sony’s 4,100 “Lifeplanners” would visit homes and offices to offer advice and make sales. Sony also runs a Web-only bank, Sony Bank, which accepts deposits and offers mortgage products, investment trusts and foreign-exchange margin trading.

On Wednesday, Mr. Hirai defended the company’s continued focus on electronics. “Electronics has a future. And it is in Sony’s DNA,” he said at a corporate presentation. “It is my mission to revive it.”

There are some glimmers that Sony is finding its way again, even as Apple and Samsung widen their lead. Sony’s sleek new XPeria Z smartphone has received generally rave reviews. Photography buffs have called its high-end, full-frame RX1 camera the most advanced compact camera.

“Not so long ago, we had despaired at Sony’s ability to ever again produce stellar products (especially when faced with duds like the Dash alarm clock and the Rolly music player),” Damian Thong, Tokyo-based technology analyst at Macquarie Securities, said in a report published Thursday.

“Yet we now have had a consistent run of beautifully designed, technologically advanced, class-leading products,” Mr. Thong said. “We think these products hark back to Sony’s glory days.”

Last quarter, Sony was back in the black, but its electronics division continued to lose money.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 29, 2013

Fidelity National Financial Selects Clearwater Analytics

Fortune 500 Insurer Looks to Increase Automation, Flexibility, and Control of Investment Accounting and Reporting With Clearwater Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF), a Fortune 500 provider of title insurance, mortgage services, and other diversified services, has selected Clearwater Analytics

via Pocket May 23, 2013 at 06:57PM

Asian institutions strive to become better modellers of derivatives

The search for yield is seeing Asian institutional investors taking on more multi-asset class and pan-jurisdictional positions, while a drive for greater risk management is increasing the usage of OTC (over the counter) derivatives, and as a result many Asian institutions are upgrading th

via Pocket May 16, 2013 at 07:06PM

Eurobase Launches synergy2 – Specialty Lines and Reinsurance Administration Platform

Eurobase Insurance Solutions Introduces synergy2 – an Inspired End-to-End, Fully Configurable Specialty Lines and Reinsurance Administration Platform That Delivers a ‘Single Version of the Truth’ Eurobase Insurance Solutions (Eurobase), a leading global software and services provider to the glo

via Pocket May 11, 2013 at 06:25PM

Consilium and Orange Launch Current At Sea, a Paperless Maritime Navigation and Communication Solution

Consilium and Orange Launch Current At Sea, a Paperless Maritime Navigation and Communication Solution

Current At Sea improves safety, allows efficient communications, reduces costs and enables ECDIS compliance.

Consilium and Orange Business Services are modernizing maritime communications with the launch of a paperless navigation solution that extends an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) over the world’s largest MPLS-based network. This bundled, flat-rate solution named Current At Sea enables shipping companies to move to a fully electronic platform for navigation and communications.

Current At Sea is a future-proof, modular ECDIS and communication system that can include voyage optimization programs, fleet and ship management systems, and real-time monitoring applications. Orange is bridging the ship and shore by integrating ECDIS with Orange’s fully managed network (both terrestrial and satellite, including Inmarsat FleetBroadband connectivity). The Orange network ensures accurate, precise data and provides value added enterprise communications such as Business Talk Global, IP Telephony, WAN optimization, M2M and video conferencing to ships at sea.

Nicolas Roy, head of the Network Solutions Business Unit, Orange Business Services, said: “Current At Sea is a one-stop-shop solution that is not about simply replacing paper nautical charts with digital ones but is about completely rethinking business processes in order to improve safety, efficiency and costs. This bundled, fixed-price offering with Consilium will help shipping companies revolutionize the way their vessels operate and significantly improve the way they do business.”

Key customer benefits include:

• immediate compliance with regulatory deadlines – All merchant vessels will be required to use an ECDIS in compliance with International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations. The bundled solution from Consilium and Orange provides an efficient way to meet this requirement before the deadline.

• operational cost-savings – Orange’s IP network, which allows for a fixed monthly fee with no usage charges on voice or data, keeps communication costs under control. Fuel savings between 4 to 8 percent can be achieved when voyage optimization programs are integrated into the solution. By accurately pinpointing weather and water currents to determine the most fuel-saving route, hundreds of thousands of dollars can be saved annually per vessel. Additionally, Consilium’s unique concept of chart management enables the system to update only the chart parts that are required for the trajectory of the vessel’s planned voyage, which provides additional cost savings.

• improved safety at sea – With the Consilium ECDIS solution, shipping vessels can access an integrated navigational tool that cuts the time it takes to receive updates, warnings and admiralty overlays from weeks to hours. Because it is connected to the Orange corporate network, vessels are assured of securely receiving this data anywhere in the world. A study by DNV, a risk management foundation, found that such a solution can reduce ship groundings, the third-deadliest maritime disaster, by at least 30 percent.

• corporate-to-vessel integration – Orange’s MPLS-based network allows ships to bypass the public Internet when accessing corporate systems and connect using a much more secure, real-time connection to business-critical applications. Ship personnel can employ the full scope of the applications regardless of location, all at a flat fee; and because the connection is continuous, system maintenance can be done remotely while the ship is at sea.

• improved working conditions – According to estimates, a paperless communications platform as provided by Consilium and Orange can reduce a second officer’s workload by up to 40 percent. Also of benefit are all the amenities that come with a superior network connection, such as Internet, text, e-mail, chat, GSM and entertainment while at sea. These services are a vital draw for recruiting and retaining crewmembers and improving crew morale.

“Current At Sea is a unique solution as it is the first time a VSAT system and a Dual ECDIS are offered as a package with a monthly flat rate, which will not affect the ship owners capital expenditure,” Anders Roos, president, Consilium Marine Group.

In June 2011, Consilium Marine Group and Orange Business Services signed a high-level global cooperation agreement through which Consilium globally markets Orange marine VSAT communication solutions through its 34 offices in 19 countries.

Cornish Mutual sees increased profits on Transactor

Truro based insurer Cornish Mutual has experienced rapid growth since being supported by Transactor Global Solutions Ltd’s (TGSL) specialist software solutions, designed to increase productivity and efficiency, reducing costs and increasing profits.

via Pocket May 03, 2013 at 03:31PM

Delta Lloyd chooses XENTIS from Profidata

As part of the realignment of their business strategy Delta Lloyd Germany AG (Delta Lloyd) has chosen XENTIS to manage their investments. The basis for this decision was the high level of functionality, user friendliness and the optimal price/performance ratio offered by XENTIS.

via Pocket April 25, 2013 at 11:48PM

Thomson Reuters Launches Accelus Compliance Manager for Insurance

Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today announced the launch of Accelus Compliance Manager for Insurance, a solution that enables U.S.

via Pocket April 11, 2013 at 07:31PM

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