Home Insights People Spotlight: Meet Carol, our Composer product guru who’s been delivering stand-out features and cupcakes for over 16 years

People Spotlight: Meet Carol, our Composer product guru who’s been delivering stand-out features and cupcakes for over 16 years

Blog, Blog 01/08/2023

Carol Richards is a Senior Product Consultant in GBST’s EMEA Retail Wealth team, where her contributions have been instrumental in the success of Composer since she joined in 2007. Carol chats with us about her role in delivering Composer’s annuity administration capability, some standout solution features and what life is like outside her professional pursuits. It's clear that her dedication to quality and client success is matched only by her passion for baking. So, Carol, what are you bringing into the office for us to taste next week?

How long have you been in the GBST Retail Wealth Team and what is your role?

I joined GBST as a contractor in December 2007, but at the end of my six months, the team persuaded me to stay permanently. I originally chose to contract for flexibility to take time off over the summer months. GBST agreed to a flexible working arrangement, and I now work part-time in summer and full-time in winter, thanks to GBST’s adaptability.

Officially my job title is Senior Product Consultant, but my main role is as a translator between client business requirements and our development team and testers. I work with clients to understand their business needs then determine if we have the functionality required or whether an enhancement is called for. I then work closely with the development team to explain the client’s requirements, and together, we determine a solution.

While I’m responsible for communicating the solution to our clients and stakeholders for sign-off, my involvement doesn’t stop there. I work with the development team during the development cycle and project manage the solution to ensure it stays on track. On delivery, I work with our clients to support them through the solution implementation.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I love being outdoors and generally away from my laptop when not at work. I am lucky to live right by the beach, so I can often be found in, on, or by the sea. There are many complaints/jokes about my suntan by my colleagues! We have two working cocker spaniels that need plenty of exercise, so my daily step count is high, and I love nothing more than seeing them run on the beach or in the forest. I will grab any opportunity to get out on my paddle board – on the summer solstice this year, I managed to fit in both a sunrise and sunset paddle on either side of work (the 3.45am start was a killer but worth it)! I am also a keen baker and am in big trouble if I turn up at some client sites without a baked offering!

What are some of the standout features and functionalities added to Composer (Annuities) in the time you’ve been working on the project?

We delivered a new end-to-end business process that provided many client benefits. We now have an API for online applications that helped introduce a new user-friendly business journey for administrators. Allowing them to enter details in steps to capture all data necessary to create the annuitant record and policy details, including the work items required for processing once the monies are received.

In addition, we were able to add bulk processing for both the calculation and payment of PCLS from any immediate vesting pensions and the activation of the annuity so that a user doesn’t need to process these individually. The activation process ensures that all the data on the policy is set up correctly for the life of the annuity, creates any remuneration due to the adviser and makes any payments that are due to the annuitant, including the application of tax. We also introduced automation where the monies received differ from the amount in the original quote to enable the benefits to be recalculated on the actual amounts.

What is so impressive about the annuity’s functionality?

The amount of automation the annuity functionality can bring to a business is really impressive. Many annuities are run on old technology and involve a great deal of manual processing. The Composer functionality is built on a modern technology stack which allows us to reduce the manual processing and bring in automation, even to some of the areas of complex processing, such as death benefit.

Our solution means that Composer will calculate under or over-payments of annuities between the date of death and date of notification, creating the necessary data so that the reporting to HMRC of the corrected position can also be automated. This is followed by the calculation of the benefits due based on the policy selections (including joint life, guarantees, and creation of any lump sum payments and ongoing payments that are due. The only manual input required is the details of the beneficiaries to whom the benefits will be paid.

What’s kept you at GBST?

The people and the challenges. We are lucky to have a great team of people at GBST that share a “can do” attitude and take pride in getting a job done well.

What do you enjoy most about your role and working for GBST?

There are many aspects of my role that I enjoy, which is probably the reason why I’ve stayed with GBST for so long (plus my ingrained quest for always wanting to find out why and how things need to work the way they do😊).

There is a great variety of tasks involved in my role, so I rarely have an opportunity to get bored. Also, the level of autonomy we are given just to get on and do our work without being micro-managed makes it enjoyable. It’s great to know your job and be trusted to complete it on time to the best of your ability.

My role is also very social, which suits me down to the ground as I get to talk to colleagues from all parts of the business and build good relationships with clients during the process of gathering requirements and business needs. These social interactions allow me to challenge new ways of working to achieve the best client outcome. Although some might say, there is a drawback to building lots of good relationships, as people contact me on a regular basis to ask how things work, it’s a two-way thing and means that I get to call on others to share their knowledge and help solve problems.


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