Personal finance goes digital

Financial Advisory

James Goad

BehavioursBrandData ScienceEngagementExperienceFinancial AdvisoryJourneyManagement InformationSocial MediaWinning Advisers

A confluence of factors including regulatory change and technological progress are changing the face of personal finance. Digital technology is being adopted and is transforming the delivery of client advice processes, enhancing client service and reducing costs and advisers must evolve or die.


  • The traditional model for advice has been face to face but, it has only served a minority of the population. This has been exacerbated by the Retail Distribution Review and the cost of providing advice.
  • Mobile-first digital innovators are focusing on wealth management as it is a target for disruption, and banks are also now entering the space. Examples include UBS, HSBC and Nat West.
  • There is a place for a digital journey for limited advice but not at present in full/more complex financial planning.
  • Digital is most useful to help complement/support current processes but may have a place with clients with straightforward needs and smaller sums to invest.
  • Make it easy for clients to access advice.
  • Evolve or die.
  • Use digital to make your proposition more ‘sticky’.

Key issues and challenges:

  • Getting people to engage when their attention spans are increasingly shortening.
  • The ease of transaction.
  • Information overload.
  • The reliability of technology.
  • The cost of client acquisition in current “robo” models is too high and not sustainable. A need for varying degrees of human intervention.
  • There is no challenge for those present to attract new clients, so technology is of most use in improving processes and client service and reducing costs.
  • Younger clients and the children of older clients are more comfortable with using technology and how they want to be served going forwards needs to be borne in mind and technology is likely to play a greater role.
  • IT is constantly changing so what you invest in today is redundant tomorrow.
  • Threats to advice being commoditised.
  • Regulator doesn’t keep pace with digital advances.
  • Identifying parts of your process that could be enhanced/made easier with digital.
  • Attracting new and different clients i.e. Millennials, Gen Z will require completely different interactions.
  • Does IT actually make savings or do you spend the potential savings on yet more IT?
  • Cyber currencies – how should we deal with them and should they become mainstream?

Conclusions and solutions:

  • There is no current significant threat to financial intermediaries as long as people continue to meet/talk to advisers.
  • Technology can be used to complement and enhance the advice process.
  • Obtaining client information digitally provides efficiencies. However, clients need be persuaded to provide fact-find information in this format initially.
  • It was agreed that there is a challenge in selecting the appropriate technology from the choice available.
  • Technology can be effectively used to provide information and updates to clients who do not need/want face to face advice every year.
  • Recruiting young graduates to help drive this forward in your business.
  • Pressure on adviser fees in the future. Research shows that this is not an issue for most advisers as long as they take steps to clearly articulate their proposition and deliver on their service commitments to clients.
  • Constantly look at ways of building digital into your business in order that you do not get left behind.
  • Look at your client advice process and see where digital could make it quicker, easier or more beneficial to the client.
  • Look at ‘white labelling’ certain services rather than building them yourselves.
  • Digital can add valuable services to your clients that enhance what you do already.