Scottish Widows eyes robo-advice launch in rival’s wake

Scottish Widows eyes robo-advice launch in rival’s wake

Scottish Widows is looking into developing a form of robo-advice, David Holton has said, a day after rival provider Standard Life announced its plans to enter the automated D2C market.

Development of a digital advice proposition is under discussion at the company, Scottish Widows’ director of corporate propositions said.

Mr Holton said: “We are working a lot with our adviser partners on what robo-advice looks like and its role. It would be relatively easy to fit into what we are doing already but it has to be the right thing for the consumer.

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“I don’t really think that the industry has necessarily worked out the right place for it yet.

“It is something we are looking at because there is a need for advice that isn’t being met but it is something we would do with advisers rather than on our own.”

Rival Standard Life has already made its move as an early adopter of robo-advice.

Yesterday (29 March) Standard Life announced it will automate parts of its financial planning proposition to offer a robo-advice service to clients, as it targets the direct-to-consumer market amid aggressive expansion.

Steve Murray, CEO of Standard Life’s restricted national advice business,1825, said the firm wants to expand by providing a D2C service, which he said will be complemented with face-to-face planning by advisers.

He said: “We strongly believe in the value of delivering financial planning services through strong personal relationships. However, going forward, we also recognise that digital solutions will have a major role to play in helping people to make informed financial decisions.”

Scottish Widows had previously flagged its intention to invest in its offering, saying earlier this month it would spend £50m on a programme to improve its products and services, as well as on improving its adviser support.

This includes the creation of a range of new digital services over the next 18 months.

Last week the provider launched a new employer hub as the first in this series of digital developments.

The online portal is currently being tested with six pilot employers and will allow clients to upload payroll files in a variety of formats, providing immediate feedback on any errors with their data, so that any issues can be corrected instantly.

Mr Holton said: “I want to bring in much better analytics to show the adviser or consumer how their scheme is performing relative to their peers in the industry.

“The adviser will be able to spend more time analysing information rather than collecting it.

“There is a greater desire for information than ever before and we are trying to simplify the access to it.”