An interview with Koley Corte, SVP and Global Head of Business Transformation at AllianceBernstein
How AllianceBernstein is using digital to create better customer experiences in asset management
Digital is helping asset managers deliver more value to the customer experience. Still, going digital can be a complex enterprise-wide effort that requires answers to some challenging questions. For example, where does digital fit in with other business priorities? How can leaders get backing for digital? How can companies leverage, and not duplicate, digital capabilities?
AllianceBernstein is answering these questions. They are strategically deploying digital as a key piece in their business ecosystem. It’s helping them better understand their customers and deliver the right experiences at the right time and place. Through their vision, initiatives, and partnerships, they already have a lot to offer, and they are just getting started.
Read the perspective of Koley Corte, SVP and Global Head of Business Transformation at AllianceBernstein, as she talks to Arpan Dasgupta, Head of Financial Services at Fractal Analytics.
Fractal: What does digital mean for AllianceBernstein when it comes to customer experiences?
Koley Corte: Our main goal is to improve the customer experience and deliver more value to more customers. That means making it easier for customers to engage with us. Digital and data work hand in hand to help us know the customer better, anticipate and deliver against their needs, and reach more of them in greater depth.
Fractal: In taking care of customer needs, are you focused on reducing the need for a human interface?
Koley Corte: No. Our customers should be able to get the information they want, where and when they want it. Whether that’s self-service from a digital platform, engaging with someone on the phone, or meeting with someone in person, we should provide the experience to deliver what they want and anticipate what they need—at the right time and place.
Fractal: What digital channels are you focused on?
Koley Corte: We’re focused on delivering customer value by understanding and anticipating their needs and engaging with them through omnichannel experiences including social, email, and potentially voice, delivered through different kinds of devices. We’re digitally engaging with customers in a way that is platform agnostic. We have a lot of valuable content out there across multiple channels: web, social, and email outreach. There’s an opportunity to increasingly curate that experience and have all the channels work in harmony around the customer and needs.
Fractal: Where does digital fit into AllianceBernstein’s priorities?
Koley Corte: Digital and data are critical enablers for us to drive continued success with our clients and reach new customers. It works in tandem as part of an ecosystem around the customer, and not in exclusion. We have a clear vision and strategy, we have funded initiatives in place, and we are deploying digital and data-driven solutions across channels.
Fractal: What are some key decisions you’ve made to drive digital initiatives?
Koley Corte: We work alongside and with the organization. We partner outside the organization to bring in fintech skills and capabilities. We are working with different firms like Fractal to bring in data knowledge to accelerate our ability to deliver as well as figure out how to work together and truly partner with an operating model that supports the business.
Fractal: Internally, have you brought together a team that’s focused on digital?
Koley Corte: Yes. My role is broader than digital; it’s business transformation. We have built out a business transformation team in the Americas and recently hired our first team member in Asia. We are in the midst of building out a global model. We’ve supplemented internal resources, so we aren’t trying to duplicate capabilities – we are bringing in strategic thinking, the ability to drive results forward, and the partnerships to execute. We work with the business with a goal of weaponizing the current model and operating at scale.
Fractal: In accelerating your vision of improved customer experiences, what challenges have you experienced?
Koley Corte: The first challenge is being able to manage an environment of experimenting and learning, as a mechanism, as opposed to building the perfect mouse trap. We need to deliver on our goals today along with the future. Getting people comfortable with playing with data, and giving partners access to data, is a different model and a test and learn approach.
Onboarding new partners, tools, and services has taken longer than I’d like. It’s new for us. There are growing pains in our approach.
The other learning for us has been helping the organization in balancing short and long-term priorities. That’s the learning that we need to do sometimes in how we work.
Fractal: In prioritizing a digital initiative, how do you get people to agree on what the organization should focus on?
Koley Corte: We formed business transformation committees regionally to create more transparency and alignment within the organization. We have built shared goals with the regional business heads and their teams, so it’s embedded in their goals to both deliver the business today and embrace delivering as a business tomorrow. I do a lot of championing in talking about it and building relationships. As we experiment and deliver highlights and proofs of concept, the more people see it, the more real it becomes, and we build momentum and a fear of missing out.
Fractal: In executing on those strategic decisions, what kinds of challenges have you faced?
Koley Corte: We make sure this remains a priority and gets resources and funding. We manage the data, so we see when things are working and when they are not, so we can be agile in our thinking and approach and can pivot along the way.
Fractal: Are there multiple partners involved here?
Koley Corte: We rely on a lot of internal business partners. We lead the governance around that. We work with partners to develop plans, and we hold people accountable to timelines. We first develop the concepts together with our customers in the business, and then we lay out realistic plans and put resources to deliver against those.
Fractal: How do you figure out what your customers need from digital experiences?
Koley Corte: We observe how customers engage with us, talk to them, and understand what they want. We have online tools to put things in front of customers or potential customers to understand their perspective. We look at the art of the possible: how have new capabilities evolved that we can leverage into understanding what our customers are trying to achieve?
Fractal: How are you leveraging learnings and capabilities across AllianceBernstein?
Koley Corte: We’ve formed an innovation group across the company. We meet regularly and share what we are doing to leverage any capabilities we can. We stay aware of what the other firms and strategic business units are focused on, and we share what we are learning. I spend a lot of time understanding what others are doing and making sure we aren’t reinventing, and instead, leveraging capabilities where we can.
Fractal: Are there any closing thoughts you’d like to share?
Koley Corte: This is a work in progress. It is following the customers’ needs and lead. It is testing, learning, and experimenting to drive more value. It is early days. As a firm, we have a lot to offer, and we need to experiment with ways to reach customers even more effectively, penetrating the market more deeply and broadly. There is a lot of opportunity to continue to improve and grow.
Senior Vice President and Global Head of Business Transformation, AllianceBernstein
A senior executive focused on leveraging data and digital to drive strategic change, Koley Corte is currently Senior Vice President and Global Head of Business Transformation at AllianceBernstein focused on developing transformative growth strategies for next generation institutional and retail distribution. Koley’s areas of current focus include artificial intelligence, sales enablement, demand generation, robotics and automation, predictive analytics and new channel development.
Prior to joining AB, Koley was at Reed Elsevier (RELX) where she served as Senior Vice President and Head of Digital, Innovation and Customer Acquisition Strategies, Americas Region for Reed Exhibitions (RX). While at RX, she focused on driving attendee acquisition and engagement, developing digital programs, assets, capabilities and revenue and improving analytics and insights. Previously, Koley was Vice President, Head of Market & Competitive Strategy and Integrated Campaign Management at TIAA, where she led teams responsible for developing the environmental backdrop with insights and implications for revenue growth and diversification strategies, the rebrand and large-scale external communication initiatives, including complex product redesigns. Previously, Koley held progressive leadership roles at American International Group (AIG).
Koley received her MBA with distinction from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University, with a concentration in Finance, Management, and International Business, and her B.A. cum laude in Economics and Psychology from Brandeis University.
Head of Financial Services, Fractal Analytics