The American Express Financial Direct (AEFD) business sells financial products and services directly to clients. Less than six months after American Express launched the direct-to-consumer distribution system, it introduced an online brokerage product line that integrated trading capabilities with advanced investment research and analytical tools.
Launching a new product inherently presents challenges, but this project faced several additional implementation hindrances. The distribution channel was still evolving, the web technology and Internet commerce industry were new to most internal resources, there were frequent organizational changes and shifts in priorities, and one critical third-party partner performed at a sub-par level.
Despite the project's heady pace and disruptive team conflicts, Yvette was able to approach the product definition effort with objectivity and focus on feasibility. She presented a straightforward analysis of the competitive landscape, clarified and obtained buy-in on product priorities, bridged communication gaps across disciplines, and resolved ownership issues that were impeding the development effort.
With persistence and diplomacy, Yvette led working sessions with the difficult third-party partner to ensure creative thinking was oriented towards critical tasks. Yvette worked closely with all contributors to achieve better productivity, and reduced inefficiencies by leveraging each team's specific area of expertise. Her processes effectively prioritized and ensured completion of delinquent tasks. She implemented timely reporting of progress and issues to the ultimate decision-making management team, and instituted usability testing ensuring product quality and identifying the critical areas for improvement.
Within six months, the InvestDirect product line was successfully offered to clients. The final products included two levels of service: InvestDirect/pt (Power Tools) for investors requiring integrated online trading with a comprehensive toolset, and InvestDirect, providing trading capability with access to basic research.
The product launch met the organization's objectives, and significantly enhanced AEFD's web presence aimed at consumers seeking do-it-yourself financial management. The final product line also provided a solid base for subsequent enhanced offerings, including an online brokerage capability for the American Express Financial Advisor business.