Microsoft Re-Aligns U.S. Financial Services Group to Better Serve Customers

BOSTON, Aug. 28, 2006 — The Gartner Financial Services Technology Summit, held in Boston this week, marks the first industry event at which the newly restructured Microsoft U.S. Financial Services team will make its debut. Gartner’s annual event is a conference designed exclusively for senior industry executives with a focus on the business value of IT. 

Microsoft’s Financial Services group is a premier sponsor at this event, and plans to showcase a variety of different financial applications such as Advisor Platform, Excel Services and a preview of Windows Vista. During the conference sessions, Bill Hartnett, Microsoft general manager of Solution Sales for Insurance, will speak about the influential and innovative information technology forces that are driving change within the financial services industry, while Microsoft customer Jeff Wolverton, vice president and CIO of Great American Financial Resources, Inc., will present a case study on how his company’s Microsoft-based solution has helped improve business performance, drive real world business processes and improve compliance.

To learn more, PressPass spoke with Rich Feldmann, managing director of Microsoft’s U.S. Financial Services team, for additional insight into the new organization’s structure, goals and plans beyond the Gartner event.

PressPass: Why has Microsoft realigned its financial services group?

Feldmann: In short, we must expand our marketshare and grow the top-line revenues. We have realigned our management team to more effectively marry our industry expertise in banking, capital markets and insurance directly with the sales organization – thus creating three vertical units geared toward driving industry-specific revenue in fiscal year 2007.

PressPass: Who is part of this effort?

Feldmann: Tracy Issel, general manager, whom I report to as the U.S. managing director, leads our team. The core management team is made up of three new Industry Solution Director (ISD) roles who will bring extensive industry knowledge to bear on direct sales quotas, feedback to product groups on customer needs and answers to customers’ complex questions about enterprise deployments. The ISD roles will be filled by Bill Hartnett (insurance), Craig Saint-Amour (capital markets) and Greg Haislip (banking).

Reporting to these ISDs are a wealth of industry-specific resources, including partner managers, industry marketing managers, industry technology specialists, and more. Long-time Microsoft industry experts Warren Lewis and Kevin Kelly will take on newly expanded industry marketing manager roles for banking and insurance, respectively. Stevan Vidich, Marley Gray and Dan Woodman fill the industry technology specialist positions in capital markets, banking and insurance, respectively.

This new leadership team brings a deeper source of talent and strength to our team, and I am confident we have the right structure and strategy for driving our presence within the financial services marketplace.

PressPass: What are the anticipated benefits?

Feldmann: We have learned, through extensive feedback from our customers, technology partners and internal product groups, that we needed a more aggressive engagement model between our vertical market experts, sales teams and customer representatives. With clearly defined revenue deliverables, the group’s new charter is to “get closer to the customer.” We believe that with a more tightly aligned organization that is enabled to provide faster answers to customers’ questions, we will more efficiently market new releases of Microsoft products incorporating features that financial services firms have requested, such as XML enablement within Microsoft Office Professional applications, Excel Services (as part of Office 2007) and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) adapters for BizTalk. There is a great deal of opportunity for growth, and we’re now in a more strategic position to take advantage of those opportunities.

PressPass: What are your plans for the Gartner Financial Services Summit?

Feldmann: We are very honored to have Jeff Wolverton, vice president and CIO of Great American Financial Resources, Inc. (GAFRI), speak on our behalf during a case study session at the Summit. Not only has Jeff used our financial services expertise and platforms to dramatically improve GAFRI’s business performance and compliance initiatives, his company was named among a handful of financial institutions in top honors as a CIO 100 company (Aug. 15, 2006, CIO Magazine). It’s a testament to Jeff’s vision, as well as our ability to execute and support an industry-leading business model at GAFRI.

Beyond the case study session, Microsoft’s U.S. Financial Services team will be showcasing several of our leading financial tools, speaking on additional panels, and welcoming partners and customers to our hospitality area throughout the show.

PressPass: Who are some of your other financial services customers?

Feldmann: Through our partnership engagement model, Microsoft’s U.S. Financial Services team works with a variety of industry leaders and emerging financial IT firms. In the Capital Markets vertical, we’re proud to serve clients such as Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch, Reuters and NASDAQ. In insurance, we are working with companies such as American National Insurance Co. (ANICO) –one of the nation’s largest life insurance companies, The Insurance Center of The MEGA Life and Health Insurance Co., and Pacific Life. And in banking, our clients include BMO Financial Group, SunTrust, Chase Manhattan and Wachovia.

PressPass: What will be the focus for the year ahead?

Feldmann: Strategic growth. We are fortunate to have a tremendous existing client base, however we are committed to getting ‘closer to the customer’ in a way that allows us to partner and innovate on an entirely new scale. I am excited to continue working with our impressive clients, to add more value to their IT operations through our deep market expertise, but moreover, to expand our reach into new opportunities within the financial services marketplace.

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