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Fidelity Life nabs 2degrees' Pete Doherty to aid transformation efforts

Pete Doherty named as new chief customer officer
Brian Blake and Nadine Tereora (Fidelity Life)

Brian Blake and Nadine Tereora (Fidelity Life)

New Zealand’s largest locally owned and operated life insurer, Fidelity Life, has appointed Pete Doherty as its new chief customer officer (CCO).

Doherty joins Fidelity from 2degrees where he’s been the head of business transformation, responsible for driving a customer experience transformation to enable digital innovation and customer-centricity.

Fidelity chief executive Nadine Tereora said the CCO role is a crucial one as Fidelity ramps up its customer-focused transformation programme, the digital and technology component of which is dubbed "Watson".

In his new role, Doherty is set to lead the company's customer experience (CX) team and the customer component of the company-wide transformation.

“We know one of the keys to unlocking our future success is delivering great customer experiences – and Pete will be responsible for shaping our customer strategy and using human-centred design to make this happen,” she said.

Fidelity is a public unlisted company with around 25 shareholders, the largest of which is the Guardians of NZ Superannuation with 41 per cent. 

It has around 300,000 customers and 257 staff according to its 2019 annual report, released on Wednesday.

Total revenue for the year ended 30 June was $293.2 million, up from $290.1 million in 2018. Net profit also lifted, from $14.1 million to $18.3 million.

Chair Brian Blake said in his report that there was an "urgent need" for Fidelity to hasten its transformation journey to position the company for an increasingly customer-focused and digital future.

"The consequences of not adapting quickly to regulatory, consumer and technology change will be severe," Blake wrote. "But if there’s one thing we’re certain of, it’s that slow, incremental change isn’t enough.

"When it comes to digital transformation, we’re starting from a relatively low base; like many other life insurers we’re dealing with complex issues relating to our legacy IT systems."'

However, that was changing with the goal to drive innovation, productivity and improved support for advisers and partners, as well as to deliver flexible products and good outcomes for customers.

"Consumers are switching on to new digital health and wellbeing programmes common in overseas markets and now being introduced in New Zealand by some life and health insurers," Blake said. 

"We’re investigating some exciting opportunities in this area."

Tereora reported that new technology roadmap, which aims to lift productivity, simplify complex legacy systems and deliver a superior customer experience was put in place during 2019. 

"We’ve named this transformational project ‘Watson’ in honour of the entrepreneurial spirit of our founders, Gordon and Shirley Watson," she wrote.

"Already we’ve proven our capabilities in robotic process automation and our robots – 15 at the time of writing – are delivering combined time savings of almost 1,000 days annually."

Watson will support a more diverse channel mix and early work in that space has delivered useful insights into digital propositions, she added.

Doherty previously worked in customer experience roles at BNZ, The Warehouse Mobile and Spark, and earlier spent time as a consultant with EY and KPMG.

He joins the executive team at Fidelity Life on 25 November.

(Article amended on 1 November to clarify that Doherty is set to head up the customer component of the transformation programme, not the Watson component.)