Is artificial intelligence a threat to financial advisers?

2 May 2019

The machines are taking over, we are told.

Huge advances in artificial intelligence in recent years means robots will soon be driving our cars, flying our planes and cleaning our homes.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, the consultancy, artificial intelligence-powered machines will take 800 million jobs worldwide by 2030.

The question people like me want to know is: will computers ever become advanced enough that they replace advisers?

It is a question that no doubt keeps many in the advice community up at night.

But while machines are constantly becoming smarter, I believe they should not be feared. Rather, advisers should embrace and harness their power.

Robo-advisers have been around for some time, but they have failed so far to eat much from the plate of traditional advisers.

Machine-based business models tend to focus on securing business from younger clients who have comparatively fewer assets. In other words, those who were left unable to access advice post-RDR.

That may change over time, but there are few signs to suggest they are about to target the wealthy any time soon.

We must also avoid falling into trap of assuming that young people are so at home with using technology that they do not want face-to-face advice.

In my experience, there are many young people who would love professional mortgage, pensions or investment advice. The problem is they are being priced out of the market.

The only way to improve access to advice is to bring down the cost of it, which is where technology comes in.

AI and machine learning, in particular, have the potential to transform the back-office, administration and data collection processes at advice firms.

Many firms are also beginning to use algorithm-based systems, alongside a face-to-face contact, as a safety net when assessing risk and suitability, therefore improving the advice process.

This hybrid man-and-machine model has the potential to speed up the advice process, making it more efficient and, ultimately, cheaper.

If that happens, then I see no reason why we won’t also see a major improvement in the access to advice for those on lower incomes, which can only be a good thing.

We need to avoid the temptation, as an industry, to get sucked into the man-versus-machine debate.

Instead, we should be talking about how we can utilise new and emerging technologies to improve the advice we give and open it up to as many people as possible.

In the medium-term, I can only see how technology can help advisers, rather than compete against them.

Those who embrace AI and machine learning will reap the rewards. Those who don’t will be left behind.  



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Author
José Supico

CEO & Co-Founder of www.advicefront.com. Democratizing financial advice. I love product design, growth & strategy, and ride waves in my spare time.

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