Robo-Advice: still more questions than answers?

Robo-Advice: still more questions than answers?

Nobody wants a discussion panel which agrees about everything, and the professionals and business owners at our Robo-Advice round table didn’t disappoint!

So while everyone sees a huge potential benefit through reaching more customers and clients, and in automating parts of the process, not everyone thinks full advice is desirable or even possible.

So is Robo-Advice really a game changer for financial services, either now or in the future as some would have us believe?

It may depend on how some of the following disagreements highlighted in this video are resolved.


Do people prefer face-to-face advice or will they be prepared to discuss their finances with a machine?

You can see that our face-to-face advice advocates are adamant that many clients’ need to interact with a real human being. But others said the need to see a real person was simply a case of ‘empathetic fallacy’, i.e. some clients will demand to speak to someone, others will not.

And while really cost-effective debt advice demonstrates that automation can work, others suggest it can’t work if people are not sure of what they are asking or what they want.

Can you deliver automated advice or should you just deliver automated guidance?

Let’s start by noting the things all our panelists agree about…

Everyone believes that automated advice has to allow and facilitate access to a real human being when necessary – certainly if a customer or client wants to talk to someone for clarification or peace of mind.

On the other hand, there was no agreement on what sort of service the robot should be delivering.

Some believe it should be guidance that funnels the customer towards traditional one-to-one advice; especially with the regulator and the ombudsman watching out for things to go wrong. Others say they already offer full, regulated advice, including for retirement.

Ultimately, perhaps it’s the market that will decide. Or perhaps the regulator will help.

How do you solve a problem like engagement?

One thing our panel did agree on, however, was the vital issue of engagement. Solve the engagement issue and we can drive consumers to better outcomes.  But it’s not easy.

Pension dashboards may very well help. Guidance may be the answer for the future; especially for reaching millennials. Branding, too, is critical ­– backed by advertising and marketing, and harnessing all the magic of social media.

But people still want to be empowered rather than talked down to.

All of which leads us to pose another thorny question: does Robo-Advice have to be free? The argument being that so much information is already available cost-free online? The short answer seems to be ‘no’, with most of our Money Talks panelists believing a paid-for model is still viable.

You can watch more clips from the full Robo-Advice debate on the Money Talks YouTube channel. And don’t forget to download the full written report:

Download Robo-Advice Report

Agree or disagree with our panelists? We’d love to know your own thoughts on Robo-Advice and its impact on the UK FS industry.

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