Co-operative Insurance Services
Change is something everyone working in the financial services sector has had to get used to in recent years. And in a highly competitive market, many established names that did not adapt disappeared.
Co-operative Insurance Services (CIS), part of Co-operative Financial Services, was founded in 1867, and serves more than five million customers. But poor trading results and a lack of modernisation over the past 20 years meant it was desperately in need of change if it was to remain a key player in the sector.
"At best, its model was more like something from the 1980s, if not the 1970s, and there we were in 2004," says Stephan Pater, chief executive of general insurance business, new operating model change programme and field sales force at CIS.
Pater was well placed to spearhead what became known as the 'Building a new CIS' change programme. Before retiring, he had spent 10 years at Royal & SunAlliance, where he was involved in a major turnaround of the life insurance company. The CIS project was enough to coax him out of retirement. "I've never seen change as a negative," he says. "Instead, it can be hugely exciting."
For CIS, the change was on a scale the company had never experienced before. It had to shed 2,500 staff, create a new field management structure with 18 regional sales offices, reposition the field sales team as financial advisers, establish a UK-based centralised customer contact centre, create 500 new customer-facing positions and embrace new technology. The change programme also had to create a more competitive cost base from which to grow the business, and have a sharper focus on monitoring performance.
All of this had to be achieved while maintaining the Co-operative values of honesty, caring for others, openness and social responsibility.
In Pater's view, there are two approaches to implementing change: embedding specific projects within a business-as-usual approach, or pulling all the elements of change together within a separate change programme. "I strongly believe that the latter brings better results," he says.
Central to the project, which began in July 2004, was a team drawn from HR and communications, which led much of the programme. It included 20 HR staff out of a total of 150 HR people working at the company. Team members worked alongside workstreams, which were basically project groups within the bigger project, dedicated