The Woolwich is to provide its Open Plan integrated banking service via the Internet portal of French financial services group AXA. The combined offering will feature banking services from The Woolwich, including current account, savings, credit cards and lending products, integrated with investment and insurance products provided by AXA.
It is intended that in due course all will appear on one monthly statement and the links between the two company’s products will be seamless. AXA will continue to offer its products and services through existing distribution channels.
In addition to the Internet, the service will be made available through ATMs and via a call centre. The service will subsequently be accessible to all AXA’s portal customers via WAP-enabled mobile phones and interactive digital television.
Customers of the AXA portal, scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter, will also be able to access information and advice as well as buy products and services from a selection of other partners. AXA Sun Life will provide core savings and investment products, while AXA Insurance and PPP healthcare will supply general and health insurance services. DLJdirect will provide an on-line share dealing facility.
The Woolwich will benefit from access to selected segments of an additional customer base of some 8 million people. Both parties will work together to ensure the success of this new personal finance service.
John Stewart, The Woolwich’s group chief executive comments: "This really is a groundbreaking agreement; two financial institutions working together to offer their customers an integrated financial package. It demonstrates the open nature of the Open Plan technology which gives us the ability to offer Open Plan to customers of other financial institutions or to offer others’ products to our own customers.
Woolwich today reported an 8.4 percent fall in half-year pre-tax profits, in line with expectations, due to investment in its Open Plan integrated service. Woolwich said its number of Open Plan customers was "significantly ahead of target" at 290,000, adding that the number of products held by Open Plan customers exceeded 750,000. Woolwich has spent £30.8 million on the service. The total spend is expected to rise to £125 million, with a target of 500,000 customers for the year-end.