NU Online News Service, June 8, 2004, 6:26 p.m. EDT – AXA Financial Inc. wants to transform its 5,500 agents’ computers.[@@]

The New York financial services company, a unit of AXA S.A., Paris, is spending $21 million to update a 10-year-old, homegrown client contact and proposal-generation system with a new, Web-based system, company executives say.

The new system will help agents attract and keep customers, and it also will help managers track agents’ productivity and adherence to suitability standards, AXA Financial says.

AXA Financial is using software from Siebel Systems Inc., San Mateo, Calif., to develop the new agent support system.

Agents will get a planning system, marketing tools, a calendar, to-do lists, document-management tools and automated systems for handling tasks such as identifying opportunities to sell existing customers additional products.

Agents can synchronize each “workstation” with handheld devices, share records with sales managers and colleagues, and get quick looks at incentive compensation performance.

The old system required agents to enter many different passwords. Agents will be able to get to the new system from almost any laptop or desktop computer using a single password, according to Mark Wutt, a senior vice president at AXA Financial.

AXA Financial began rolling out the system in the fourth quarter of 2003. Wutt expects it to be completed by November.

AXA Financial is charging its agents $35 a month for computer support services.

If the new system increases efficiency as much as expected, “we estimate each agent will make an average of 10 more sales a year,” Wutt says.

At that rate, the company expects to get back its investment in 36 to 40 months, he adds.

Already, 60% of the agents trained on the new workstation are using it an average of 6 times a week. The other 40% rely heavily on administrative assistants to use the system.