In late September global financial and insurance services company Aviva recruited a new CTO to its Aviva Investors division. Veronique Arnoldi joined the company from outsourcing services provider EDS. She recently took some time out to explain to CIO what her plans are for Aviva and how it will use technology to face up to the challenges facing financial services providers.

Arnoldi explained that investment companies are moving towards becoming global companies with “cross border selling” and this was an exciting opportunity she wanted to be part of. Aviva Investors is also a green field site for a CTO to really get involved with. “It’s very exciting, there is no legacy, I can really use state of the art technology,” she says. Arnoldi reports directly to Alain Dromer, chief executive of Aviva Investors and was recruited to be responsible for the organisation’s IT strategy, client experience, channel management and process design.

“Her experience working within global organisations and across regions will be a significant asset as we push ahead with our plans for Aviva Investors,” Dromer said.

Her first set of challenges at the City based organisation will be to introduce voice over IP (VOIP) and to introduce applications to enable collaborative working. “It [collaboration] will enable us to move more quickly,” she says.

Aviva Investors needed a new CTO as the investment industry is changing away from being a product focused industry to becoming more sales and marketing led. The globalisation of the sector with funds being sold across different geographies is a clear example of this, according to Arnoldi. An additional challenge is that the company is expanding. Arnoldi said new offices are opening in new regions and introducing new funds, all of which adds to the complexity of the organisation and her role. Aviva Investors currently sells investment products in 15 countries ranging from Canada, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland and Romania, with a staff of 1300.

Of course the current economic downturn began to affect the financial sector before its effects were felt on the high street and amongst car manufacturers. Arnoldi was upbeat, but realistic of the downturn and how it would influence her decisions as the new CTO. “The metaphor I use it that the economy and budgets are like a newly married couple that want four children and want to build a five bedroom house. But it you are short of capital, you start with a two bedroom house and build extensions, it is a bit messy, but works.” She ascribes the same methodology to her challenges at Aviva. “I’m not going to put cost ahead of revenue,” she reassures its stakeholders.

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