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FSE Midlands: Robo-advice can't compete with human advisers

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2nd November 2017
"Robo advisers will definitely find their niche – they will find it in the remortgage market for vanilla borrowers and I suspect they will also be able to find it in the estate agent market"

The number of customers using robo-advice will grow in the years to come, but it will not be able to compete with human advisers when it comes to their ability to use soft skills and fully service their client needs, tech experts have reassured.

360DotNet's Mark Dryden, who was speaking at today’s FSE Midlands at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, was asked to predict what the mortgage sales process would look like in 10 years’ time. He suggested that the Government was trying to make more markets more competitive, citing Open Banking and the Pensions Dashboard as proof of this.

He said: “At some stage the Government will therefore turn and look at the mortgage sector. We’ll get to a stage where we have Digital Financial Passports and it should be relatively easy to package these and to share with an adviser – lenders will be able to do something with that.

“However, when it comes to consumers, they will still need the adviser to be their ‘spirit guide’, their ‘shepherd’ to take them through the mortgage process.”

Nicola Firth of Knowledge Bank argued that robo-advice and advisers were likely to make gains in the market but only in specific areas. She said: “Robo advisers will definitely find their niche – they will find it in the remortgage market for vanilla borrowers and I suspect they will also be able to find it in the estate agent market, who might be increasingly unable to provide a personal service. Technology will make the process easier for them.”

Dryden suggested that advisers should not shy aware from empowering their clients to provide the information they need via online forms. He said: “Clients engage because they recognise the benefits they get out of their engagement. Clients ask themselves do I want an adviser in my house for two or three hours when I can alternatively enter the information on my own terms, be that on the train or in a coffee shop.”

Dryden also said advisers could utilise both AI and machine learning to help them with their compliance requirements. He said: “You can use machine learning to highlight advice recommendations that might not seem quite right – which is not to say it’s wrong – but perhaps seems outside the norm. Highlighting this can then mean you can carry out a compliance check on the file.”

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