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Advisers right to feel threatened by robo-advice: eValue

Advisers right to feel threatened by robo-advice: eValue

It is natural for robo-advisers to feel threatened by the advent of robo-advice, according to financial forecasters eValue.

Speaking at an event held in London this morning, Samantha Seaton, chief executive of technology provider eValue, said: “You will always have a tension whereby traditional advisers are going to feel alienated and threatened by robo-advice and that is perfectly natural.

“But I don’t think that will stop robo-advice. It will still happen.”

However Jason Chapman, managing director at Willis Owen, said: “I think we need to be careful labelling robo-advice as a threat to the adviser community. It is simply not (a threat).

“You’ve got advisers who have a very personal relationship with their customers. Those customers buy into that personal relationship. Those very same customers may provide digitally for their family.

“Advisers could embrace technology better than they do but that is not robo-advice.”

Speaking to FTAdviser, Simon Bussy, principal consultant at Altus Consulting, said: “It could be a threat for some advisers. Robo-advice covers a huge breadth of propositions.

“There are some people who think it is more to do with simplified advice and there are others who think it is more to do with digital. So there are some advisers that are concerned that there will be all these automated solutions in place.

“You’ve got some advisers who are developing a proposition - basically white labelling a technology so they are running it in parallel to their existing business.”

The mixed views on the threat to the advice industry by robo-advice follow comments by Nick Hungerfood, chief executive of Nutmeg, who said that robo-advice won’t replace traditional advisers.

His comments come less than a month after he was named as one of the FCA’s expert panel for the Financial Advice Market Review, which has put robo-advice firmly on the menu of options being considered to plug the advice gap.

At that time, Mr Hungerford claimed that, once granted permission, Nutmeg should be the first to offer online advice in the UK.

The advice will involve helping clients with day-to-day investment decisions and thus Nutmeg has been hiring advisers to join the team. These advisers will be like research agents and will also be available to meet customers if they wish.

ruth.gillbe@ft.com