Fifty thousand hits in the first week and growing. That's the experience and expectation for Quicken.co.nz, an online financial services company headed by Russell Hutchinson.
"We expect the site to be used by financially savvy people, online, in professional, managerial or self-employed occupations" says Hutchinson, who was marketing head of Sovereign for five years, and has written a Masters thesis on the delivery of financial services via the Internet.
"Our site will never have the very high traffic volumes of an Xtra or NZOOM, but our advantage is focus; we only get people on our site that are interested in managing their money better."
And for advertisers, that should mean an attractive audience: "They have money."
Hutchinson says with the exception of E-LOAN, there are no other comparable e-ventures operating in New Zealand.
Quicken is 90% owned by Australian company Reckon. The company also owns Reckon Software in New Zealand and its parent company pays a licence fee to Intuit in the United States to sell software.
While e-commerce has had a less than spectacular start in New Zealand in many ways, Hutchinson says he bases his Quicken.co.nz expectations on three factors: US experience, Australian experience and New Zealand market research.
"US experience shows that online financial services is the only business-to-consumer sector to take off. Our Australian experience shows that we can attract clients with our own version of that; 17,000 Quick Broker clients and over six million page views a month. And our New Zealand research shows that of our core target group, 15% had used the Internet to make a financial transaction and 38% had used it to inform a financial service purchase or transaction."
One of the keys to the success of the site is to reduce the amount of time taken to manage a client's money. Want to compare 20 different home loan providers? The online system will do the research for you.
Hutchinson says understanding what clients want to see is also essential to success as is changing data and news frequently to drive those repeat visits.
That's what needs to be done out front. To keep things "tikety boo" out back, Hutchinson says it is a difficult part of the equation and in essence, "technically we are systems integrators".
"Many of our services are provided in conjunction with third parties and so we have to make our systems talk to theirs to provide a single customer experience.
"The broking system is a good example: initial pages are 'pure Quicken' then application pages are DFMainland but Quicken branded. In the case of ASX trading, data is then passed to JDV our Australian e-commerce partner. Their systems handle ASX trading and pass data back to Quicken for our client database."
Quicken was launched with a hiss and a roar by Young and Rubicam both on and off-line. The advertising campaign will roll out over the next three months for phase one, says Hutchinson. However, much of the new client base is coming from the software business.