In the Spotlight... Michael Christofides from AMP

The experts say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Well, specialist wealth management company AMP has been helping Aussies lock down the habit of good financial planning for well over a century now.

We sat down with AMP’s Director of Retail Solutions, Michael Christofides, to discuss how that long history of helping Aussies take control of their money management is today leading to new banking products that are not only picking up Experts Choice Awards for value and innovation, but also improving the way ordinary Aussies handle their hard earned dollars.

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By Kelly Emmerton· Wednesday 23 August 2017

Pay, save, spend: automating 168 years financial experience

Great financial advice has always been at the core of AMP’s philosophy, and today, it’s committed to finding new and improved ways to help its customers better save for their future.

So it came as no surprise when, in 2017, AMP’s newly minted Bett3r Account took home a Mozo Experts Choice Award for Banking Innovation.

The AMP Bett3r Account, according to Christofides, was borne out of the simple customer insight, that “a lot of people feel their daily finances are out of control but feel like they aren’t financially disciplined and don’t like budgeting.”

A problem as old as money itself, right? Well the inspiration for the solution has its roots in an old school budgeting technique too.

“Rather than budgets, customers referred to having “buckets”,” Christofides explains. “A bucket for bills, a bucket for savings, a bucket for expenses.”

The Bett3r Account is inspired by people having three mental buckets of money (or jam jars, shoe boxes or biscuit tins) and uses three linked bank accounts, labelled Pay, Save and Spend. This lets customers set up their finances so that first, any necessary costs - like rent, home loan repayments or utility bills - are taken care of. Then, funds are allocated toward any savings goals the customer has set. Finally, anything that’s left over is spending money.

Although it’s designed to simplify money management, the Bett3r Account shouldn’t only be thought of as financial training wheels for those just starting out, Christofides says. This kind of innovative banking set up can help to streamline personal finances for all kinds of Aussies, from people running a household budget, to those trying to get debt and spending under control, right through to retirees who want to make sure their savings will last.

AMP’s other award-winning products

Of course, not everyone struggles to regularly top up their savings pot.

“Some of our customers have a cash management system that is already working well for them and all they need is a good, competitive and flexible product,” says Christofides.

AMP has these customers covered too, with a suite of products combining competitive pricing, flexible features, easy-to-understand fees and ready access to money.

For example, there’s the AMP Saver Account, winner of Mozo Experts Choice Awards for both No Strings Savings and Kick Start Savings. With a standard interest rate of 2.10% p.a. this account is designed for savers who want a hands-off money management strategy and still want maximum value.

AMP is also helping young Aussies get into the increasingly competitive property market with its Essential Home Loan. With no application or ongoing fees, and an interest rate of 3.96% p.a. (3.98% p.a. comparison rate) it’s not surprising this mortgage offer took out an Experts Choice Award for Best First Home Buyer Loan.

As Christofides says, “When combined with the AMP brand and our 168 year history of
helping Australians with their finances, this range of great value products is a pretty compelling proposition.”

What’s next for AMP?

The Bett3r Account will remain a focus in the future, but it’s not the only way AMP plans to continue helping Aussies manage their money more effectively. Christofides says another area of innovation is the brand new Goals 360 experience.

This innovative process combines personalised assistance with digital technology to help customers explore, plan, track, work towards and ultimately achieve their financial goals. According to Christofides, this is all part of an innovation strategy that comes down to working out what customers really want from their money, and helping them get it.

“We see many needs out there – but as customer needs continue to change, innovation will be driven primarily by listening to and responding to our customers.”