A ‘bionic advice’ service, which combines human and automated services, is to be rolled out by national adviser LEBC in the UK during the next 12 months.
Kay Ingram, director of individual savings and investments at LEBC, said clients using its service would fill in an online questionnaire pinpointing their specific issues, before being handed over to a financial adviser.
She said standard office hours will be replaced by an ‘out of hours’ service, allowing clients who want to deal with their financial affairs at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon to log on and contact an ‘on-call’ adviser working from home.
LEBC, which has 14 branches across the UK and around 80 regulated individuals, said it would also be looking for advisers to help it roll out the service.
“What we are working on now is what we call bionic advice,” Ms Ingram said. “We think we have cracked this advice gap.”
Interest in automated or ‘robo-advice’ has been growing across the industry, as firms try to reconnect with the mass market many abandoned in the wake of the commission ban brought in by the Retail Distribution Review as lower-value clients became less profitable or were unwilling to pay fees.
Simon Torry, a chartered financial planner with Essex-based SRC Wealth Management, said: “In my experience advice is interactive, so asking clients to fill out a form and send it in misses a huge chunk of background information. It is only with face-to-face interaction, or over the phone, that you can get an understanding of what someone’s situation is.
“From my point of view we are coming at this from the wrong angle. The FCA has overregulated the advice market and we are now trying to find solutions to a problem created by that.”