Expert: Peter Fairweather. Facilitator: Caroline Burkart
- Establishing what is meant by a hybrid model is important
- There are challenges in managing the risks of automation
- There is a rise in automated processes going on
- The industry needs to stop dismissing clients who don’t have the minimum assets to satisfy thresholds
- What can’t be replicated by technology is the reassurance you get from an adviser
Establishing what is meant by a hybrid model:
Hybrid is not about the replacement of the adviser or one thing vs another. It is about how technology can be utilised and leveraged to facilitate parts of the client journey or process more efficiently and cost effectively, both for the business and the client.
This will enable the adviser to manage more client relationships and allow them to have better quality conversations with clients where the adviser input and a discussion is really needed.
Where the client needs advice, personalised to their own situation, along with reassurance that they are taking the right actions, given their circumstances, the adviser really adds value, over and above what the client can achieve by self-service.
Challenges in managing the risks of automation:
One of the key challenges for greater use of technology is managing the risks around self-service. If the client completes their own details, how does a business question areas such as the Fact Find?
How do you prevent gaming of the system, or genuine errors perhaps from misunderstanding? Who is in control?
The FCA wants clients to know what they are getting into, but different segments of clients want different levels of tech engagement and segmentation is key to tech usage.
The varied levels of financial literacy across clients and the need for bespoke solutions also play a large part in determining the successful use of technology.
The question of how to manage for vulnerable clients is also of concern to delegates and how this can be spotted. It was pointed out that when doing pre-checks and post checks and random flagging, it is important to collate data so you can see when someone else is trying to gamify the system.
When Multiply were testing their technology, they saw discrepancies in the data in income, outgoings and pensions valuations, but not debt levels which was surprising. It is key to understand where the risks can occur and how to manage these.
The rise in automated processes:
We know and see that the younger generation want more availability around financial advice which should be offered by a person, but there is a rise in using services with automated processes, so understanding when and how which segments of clients want to engage and how automation can support a variety of needs should also be a priority.
The industry’s dismissing of clients who don’t have the minimum assets:
There was a strong view that clients shouldn’t dismissed by firms because they don’t have enough assets initially (e.g. £250k minimum) to qualify to become a client.
Delegates felt that it was important for everyone to have access and guidance to financial advice as and when needed, no matter the amount. This is where the hybrid approach can work well to support the needs of lower value, less complex clients.
The reassurance you get from an adviser:
The first aspect of financial advice can be automated, e.g. what are you looking for, what are you interested in and an automated process in the backend would provide the information needed and offer the opportunity to speak to an adviser if what they see is relevant to them.
Many people seek reassurance from an adviser on whether they have made the right decision. If a potential customer is able to get all the information, they needed beforehand and then discuss with an adviser, this will increase productivity, and allow clients to be better informed before these discussions happen.
However, there needs to be clear boundaries on how the hybrid approach operates with an appropriate risk framework around hybrid advice and a triage approach taken to ensuring the client speaks with the right people.
- There is certainly a rise across the industry in using automated processes, greatly accelerated by both client and adviser use of tech during the pandemic. However, the financial services industry is a great industry for shortening processes - ‘we are great at giving customers what we think they want instead of what they actually want’
- Automation tends to currently support those uniform, repetitive processes that will apply to all clients, regardless of their needs, as evidenced by the study conducted by the expert. E.g. such as verifying identity
- A hybrid approach can be beneficial as outward-bound information can be automated and given to the client without them having to pay for the most expensive part which is the individual advisor giving the advice and reassurance that they do so well. It also ensures that the adviser is called on for the most relevant information and clients will learn to value the advice piece of the journey