This time 10 years ago we had no smart phones, no tablets and You Tube had only just started. Can you imagine life now without these three technologies?
More and more people want immediate online access to shopping, information, entertainment and increasingly financial advice and services.
But while people may now be more prepared to engage with online financial advice services, because they are already online for a lot of the day anyway, I think it doubtful that they are really willing and able to rely totally on a fully automated online service. Even Amazon has real people to help resolve problems and I can say from experience they are great.
“The reality for most people is that planning their finances is painful and stressful. It’s something that they know they should do but they just don’t. Or at least they don’t do it consistently well.”
In addition, financial planning isn’t like buying a DVD, holiday or watch. It is intangible and requires people to do something now, say saving and investing, from which they might not benefit for many years into the future.
Personal finances are also complicated by the fact that most developed countries have complex tax, benefits, pensions and borrowing rules. They are also, to varying degrees, subject to investor protection regulations, which govern who can provide advice and how they must do so.
The various new entrant online advice services — so called ‘robo-advisers’ — have spent a lot of money to acquire customers and are years away from being profitable. They are finding out the hard way that technology is not enough to provide financial advice, you also need real people.
I don’t think it matters whether the human element is delivered via telephone, email, webcam or screen sharing. The key is that there is a real person who can help the customer to make and complete the planning and advice journey, just like on Amazon.
Advicefront understands these real world challenges and that’s why they are convinced that the majority of customers will be best served by combining intuitive online technology and real financial advisers. I was so impressed with the Advicefront vision that last year I invested my own cash in the business and agreed to become a technical adviser to the company.
“Technology should do the boring, analytical and time consuming work, to allow the financial adviser to focus on providing customers with the necessary reassurance, encouragement and motivation to help them to build and implement a sensible financial plan which is personalised to their needs.”
Advicefront’s early adopter adviser firms are currently testing the beta client planning tool. They are getting some great feedback and suggestions, which are helping them to improve and refine their platform. In the coming months they’ll be rolling out the new client engagement and advice suitability modules, and with the input of financial advisers the Advicefront team will ensure that these too are amazing.
Traditional financial advisers that leverage online advice platforms like Advicefront, can deliver a world class advice service to many more clients than would otherwise be the case. They can also provide something that no robo-adviser can currently offer — the trust and reassurance that comes from being an established and reputable real financial adviser.
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