The hybrid approach to financial advice – part human part algorithm

Retail Financial Services

Bank and Brand Distribution of Retail Financial ServicesBusiness ModelPersonalisationRetail Financial ServicesStrategyTechnology

Is anyone doing this well? 

Intro to experts -

David Vanek, CEO and Adam Byford, Distribution Director of Anorak Technologies

Anorak brings simplicity to protection sales and guidance through a D2C and financial advisor software as a service-solution.  Anorak talks less about ‘hybrid’ and more about supporting protection sales and guidance multi-channel at scale, exactly as customers require, at each step in the process.

Anorak was voted ‘most innovative’ at the Life International Innovation Awards 2018.

What’s the ideal here?

A multi-channel approach, exactly as customer’s require - at scale.  New financial services made available to mass market at scale. Is this a nut that you’ve been trying to crack in your business? Is this an issue of top table importance?

Discussion prompts:

  • Why is it so important for your business?
  • Why is it so important for your customers?
  • Is there a particular type of customer that you are looking to reach?
  • In what way will this give you competitive advantage?
  • What would be different once you achieve this?

Discussion notes:

We know that our customers have a need for protection - the advice gap is a real concern - particularly around income protection and critical illness. We want to get the country saving. We went off sale for two years and are now left with ‘advice orphans’. There is a moral driver to get this right.

We know that our customers require some education, help to understand, a conversation. They ask what they need and we need to be able to ask - ‘what have you got?’

There is a commercial driver too. We are in a constant battle for deposits and this is a big marketplace if we can get it right.

Adam, you’ve got a background in launching new propositions in Financial Services, what drew you to Anorak?

Anorak expert view:

SwissRe estimate the UK protection gap to be £2.4trn wide. Currently solutions: brokers or quote and buy, aren’t closing the gap. This is very simply about leading with online but allowing seamless omnichannel. This is how new consumers want to get access to financial services that required significant personalisation.


What’s been stopping banks from offering personalised needs based products?  We’ve all agreed that this is something we’d dearly love to be able to do.

Discussion prompts: 

  • Is it about consistency? Is it about repeatability for all customers?
  • Is it that customers move naturally multi-channel and that makes things complicated?
  • Which aspect of the sales journey tends to present the greatest challenge? [Customer needs awareness, through comprehensive market scanning and precision matching, compliant suitability reports]
  • What aspect of the problem can you find no real solution to?

Discussion notes:

It comes down to awareness. We avoid selling, but the customer doesn’t actively buy, because they don’t know they can buy these products on-line or through their bank. We don’t have the relationship with them to start this conversation with the right attitude.

Matching the right financial product to the right customer. We know we need to take a triage approach, to get the right suite of products in front of customers and for that we need to both take a holistic view of requirements and marketplace, and be able to precision match to the customer. And we need to avoid bias. This whole process takes a broker days and can still be biased. We can’t afford to do that for these smaller ticket items. Can this ever be something we offer in a profitable way?

Operational Risk - we need to be much clearer about the guidance and advice line. We are nervous about compliance issues. Suitability risk shouldn’t come into protection but it’s still a big operational risk, and it’s front of mind for other financial services products. And this is relevant over time, when we have to make sure that we maintain competence and highlight unscrupulous people. This is a big training effort.

Omnichannel complexity - the worry here is about consistency and repeatability omni-channel. And we know that digital product design like this costs a lot of money and we don’t have the capability in house.

David, is this all resonating with your own research?

Which of these barriers did you find that Anorak was uniquely placed to solve?

Anorak expert view:

Our research showed that you needed a complete solution from customer needs through to compliance. And the market was crying out for something that would work for advisors, for consumers but most importantly would work to connect the two across different channels.  Put the advisor in the driving seat, with all the safety features.

We found it had to be easy to integrate.

With built-in compliance.

Fine-tuning for specific markets.

And we found it needed to be something that was loved by customer teams, and compliance teams. Technology and ops teams.


A complete sales solution that works for everyone. Which results would you expect to see from a solution like Anorak, if you were to bring this in to your customer experience?

Discussion prompts:

  • Cost of acquisition?
  • Penetration rate in customer base?
  • Customer retention and customer cross sell?
  • Confidence in going into new markets?
  • Compliance certificates?

Discussion notes:

Simply put it’s about a better strike rate further on in the process

We’re looking for re-engagement from our customers

It’s about raising awareness - customer acquisition

It’s about being ready to scale at the right price point.

Anorak expert view:

Current conversion through comparison websites is mid low single digit percentage. With brokers, not much better - maybe 6%.

We always start with people, what are they expecting when thinking about a financial service journey? How can we best service their intent and provide the right support.

Addressing the barriers that we identified earlier a quick demo:

  1. The anorak needs report - seeks to solve the awareness issue offering a critical first task to offer value to your customer well in advance of talking about product solutions
  2. The anorak policy engine - whole market scanning, or tied options - precision matching
  3. Built-in compliance reporting and FCA regulated advice - deals with suitability risk
  4. A complete shared system that works for customer and advisor and in connecting the two - deals with omnichannel complexity.

Starling Bank case study using Anorak - 30-40% customer re-engagement.

Average basket size increased due to protection being a door opener to other value-adding services.


Terminator was a movie about advanced technological achievements - artificial intelligence and cybernetics,  juxtaposed with a period of radical change in the social order. The baddy - the T-800 going after the goodie, John Connor, leader of the resistance, fighting for the new world.

This discussion today has absolutely touched on resistance but in this case, they’re on the same side as the machines. Both fighting to get people the personalised financial products they need.  Get the country saving.  The common enemy?  These barriers to progress: needs awareness, product matching, suitability risk, omnichannel complexity, all set on a backdrop of budgets being hard to come by.

 It’s a tough quest but with the help of the machines it sounds like we can have the confidence to make the jump with our customers, clear those barriers, maybe even see a shift in the social order.


Expert:  David Vanek, Anorak

Facilitator:  Anna-Marie Wesley, Sapphire & Steel

anorak-240-x-120.jpg sapphire-steel.png