There is an old Yorkshire saying that comes to mind when I read news stories about the latest developments in robo-advice: "Cast your bread upon the waters, but make sure the tide is coming in."
For all the robo-promoters’ commitments to cutting-edge technology and the wonders of AI, they add that, to ensure that robo-advice actually delivers any meaningful value to consumers, they will also need people. A robo-adviser raised about £30m of investment so they could add human advisers to help it lure sceptical clients to its offering.
Reading between the lines, the clients it had hoped would flock to it for the spine-tingling excitement of experiencing an algorithm, are not doing so. In reality, it seems that consumers are simply not attracted to the basic concept of robo-advice and providers of robo have discovered that – surprise, surprise – clients prefer dealing with humans.
The key message is that we have an advantage over the robots. We are past masters at developing strong relationships with clients; this is the very reason we have continued to be successful over the years, regardless of the number of times our disappearance has been forecast by ‘experts’. We can to relate to our clients and empathise with their objectives and aspirations, which is something even the brightest robot will never be able to replicate.
We have a great opportunity to harness the power of the robots for our own benefit and that of our clients. Financial advice is in increasing demand and we can definitely do a better job for more clients if we harness technology to help us save time and increase our efficiency.
Why spend countless hours working on administrative and other mundane tasks when these would be best left to robots? The cost will be less as technology can do many tasks faster and cheaper than you. Equally importantly, this will free up more of your valuable time to spend with clients, doing the things that robots will never be able to do.
I urge you to make maximum use of technology to save time and improve your profitability and, even if the tide is not coming in, you will definitely still be able to 'robo your boat ashore' and, to mix another metaphor, be confident that 'your ship will definitely come in'.
Ken Davy is chairman of SimplyBiz Group