Originally published by -Prime Insights on December 03, 2021
The 2020-21 pandemic has coerced companies, regardless of their operating model, to instantaneously leverage new technologies, reimagine their future on the digital landscape and strategise from a tech perspective to position themselves for the new normal.
In this sense, Kevin Steer, Founder & CEO of Malaysia-based 121Advisor, aims to empower businesses all across the globe by harnessing the power of next-gen technologies. This techpreneur has built an enterprise that is helping organisations respond quickly to market signals, seize opportunities as they arise and remain completely connected with customers, employees, business partners and other stakeholders.
Company inception & offerings
121Advisor is an innovative technology solution and consulting services company founded by a team of creative professionals. The company has had a successful track record of serving clients across the Financial, Insurance and Takaful sectors in Asia for two decades.
“We Don’t Follow Trends; We Pioneer Them” is the company’s motto, and it couldn’t be more apt. Since its inception, 121Advisor has swept the market with various revolutionary business solutions in digital technology, social media channels, internet and mobile platforms, as well as regulatory-compliant cloud solutions for multinational and domestic clients.
121 Advisor’s innovative portfolio has kept its sails high for over a generation. Today, it is leading the way in Marketing Automation, serving clients with astonishing results. The company’s offerings include:
Building Predictive Analytics Models (PAM): The solutions focus on predictive marketing & sales, customer service, new business underwriting, churns & lapsation, personalisation and claims management.
- FITbot: A multi-lingual Robo Advisor and a chatbot for Financial, Insurance & Takaful. It utilises hybrid trees and natural language processing to offer customers a more personalised experience and increase referrals.
- WebPoS: A multi-lingual, mobile-responsive website and portal solution that enables clients to experience a unified, personalised digital experience. It increases productivity by consolidating content, sales, marketing, and work management.
- ReMMA: A Referral Management & Marketing Automation solution that effectively and efficiently auto-assigns, tracks, and manages lead referrals and conversions based on user-defined workflows. The marketing automation results in personalised targeted campaigns, content delivery and increased engagement.
- SAMA: A mobile app to effectively plan and manage sales activity. It ensures that all prospects and leads are addressed. Managers can monitor it in real-time to render assistance where necessary.
- Choices Online Sales (COS): Allows insurers and takaful operators to provide direct purchase of products online. Can integrate with FITbot and ReMMA.
- Mobile Sales Platform for Insurance & Takaful: A cross-platform mobile point of sales solution that helps agents identify clients’ financial needs via customer fact find, product recommendation, making presentations, quotes generation and e-submission of applications in a regulatory compliant process.
- CSSP: Customer Self Service Portal that reduces operating costs by allowing customers to view their profile, policies and contracts purchased online, make renewal payments, submit service requests, seek information, or file a complaint.
- Community & E-worksite Marketing & Distribution (CeMD): A community portal solution that helps organisations better engage with community members. It enables the former to nurture trust and create advocates, thereby improving customer retention.
- Multi-channel Distribution Management Solution (McDMS): Built for general agencies, IFAs and brokers to simplify operations by consolidating their diverse requirements. Its built-in performance management and compensation computation has helped clients improve sales and reduce administration costs.
- Enterprise Product Configurator (EPC): Built to rapidly set up product rates, illustrations, validation engine, and an automated testing module allows quick product deployment.
- U12know: The most recent offering of 121advisor that has grown to 4000+ users. It is a financial and wellness community portal focused on imparting knowledge via awareness and education.
Having worked in various tech-based roles, Kevin Steer has acquired immense industrial acumen and an intuitive understanding of customers’ needs. The businessman rides on over two decades of technical experience, including consulting services across the financial space in the Asian market.
After getting his MA in Engineering from Cambridge University, he started his career in 1979, working as a Field Engineer and Manager for Schlumberger. The behemoth posted him in Liaohe, China, to run its USD 12 million annual operations. In 1985, Kevin left to pursue a Masters in Computing from Imperial College, UK. He then joined Artificial Intelligence Ltd, UK, in 1988 as a Research Engineer working on massively parallel Artificial Intelligence applications.
Kevin also worked as a Consultant with Strand Software Inc and The Oregon Advanced Computing Institute in the USA and played a major role as a consultant to Boeing Aerospace Inc, US (1989 –1990). Thereafter, he moved to Malaysia to embark on his long-sought entrepreneurial journey.
In 2010, Kevin established 121Advisor Sdn. Bhd. with a crew of skilled and ambitious experts. The team founded 121Advisor with a lofty ambition of disrupting the InsurTech and FinTech market.
However, the company struggled for the first few years; building a solid consumer base and introducing items to the market wasn’t easy. People were unaware of the potential of AI and Machine Learning. Nobody was interested in leaving the traditional and known methods and were wary about integrating new technology. But hard work soon bore results, and by 2014, 121Advisor grew to 20+ companies.
Carving a niche
According to Kevin, most millennials in the Asia Pacific lack a sound understanding of financial planning leading to maxed-out credit cards and huge debts. They need awareness and guidance of their lifestyle financial goals and recommended products to buy online.
121Advisor’s recent launch of www.u12know.com is a gamechanger in this regard. It is helping consumers recognise their needs better and help plan sound lifestyles & business strategies. The portal will be translated into local languages for each country. Kevin’s team has also created Health Calculators and plans to launch a ‘Total Health Score’.
The market has widely recognised all such unique offerings by the company, enabling it to carve a unique space for itself. Plus, it is backed by its adherence to quality. Trust is critical to building growth, which is why 121Advisor follows all regulatory compliances, including getting tested every year. As a result, it enjoys the MSC status – a recognition by the Government of Malaysia for ICT and ICT-facilitated businesses.
121Advisor’s has implemented solutions that have earned it many awards as well as praise from some very illustrious companies. Its wide range of clientele would be incomplete without mentioning AIA, Manulife, AmMetlife Takaful, AmMetlife Conventional and MCIS (part of Sanlam Group).
Over the past few years, 121 Advisor has progressed significantly in all aspects – expanding to 20+ companies in Malaysia. As CEO & Founder, Kevin has implemented marketing initiatives & programs to develop the business and plans to expand to Singapore & Indonesia as well as Europe & USA.
But in the end, Kevin aims to keep his brainchild aligned to emerging technologies. “AI, ML, Big Data, Chatbots, RPA and Robo Advisors will significantly impact the FinTech & InsurTech sectors in order to fuel their growth. 121Advisor will keep promoting disruptive AI solutions to Banks, Insurers, Takaful & Investment Companies”.
Advice for young entrepreneurs
Kevin Steer firmly believes the current startup culture and technological boom should be harnessed by aspirants and used to their advantage. “However, when considering a business, always assess risks, analyse the strength of the product and look at the potential to expand”, advises the technopreneur.
On an end note, he shares some insightful quotes from world-famous techies:
“A well-executed user experience builds trust” – Tom Creighton, Wealthsimple.
“Millenials are the least insured generation since WWII…. Insurance companies are ripe for disruption” – Mark Dowds, Trov.
“True AI needs quantum computing to support it, but Augmented Intelligence is transforming industries today” – Pavel Abdur Rahman, IBM.