Friday HighlightJun 15 2018

Why modern advice firms should embrace technology

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Why modern advice firms should embrace technology

Three years on from the introduction of the pension freedom and choice regime, people are now comfortable knowing that the power to make decisions on what to do with their pension savings is in their hands. 

However, they are much less confident when faced with actually making the complex decision itself.

Yet thousands are planning for retirement or retiring each and every week and are making these decisions without taking advice.

In fact, the LV= State of Retirement report last year discovered six in 10 of those approaching retirement don’t intend to use a professional adviser. 

Without change, the risk of poor ‘self-serve’ decisions, or inertia caused by sheer complexity, will inevitably result in disappointment and financial ‘self-harm’ for many – potentially causing a ‘mis-buying’ crisis – and a further erosion of consumer confidence in the industry. 

We know customers increasingly want hassle-free, de-cluttered, simple and regularly useful financial services that offer good value for money.

This changing world of technology and democratisation of consumer rights are enablers for radically different connected money management propositions to emerge.

We also know that as an experienced pension provider, customers consistently benefit from a financial adviser taking responsibility for the selection of products tailored to meet their specific needs and preferences.  

And yet as the research shows, many believe an advice service is expensive, complicated and daunting.

The problem is compounded by a shortage of advisers in the market to serve this unmet potential need generating new innovations – a supply and demand impasse. 

LV= is constantly seeking ways to champion the benefits of more affordable and accessible modern advice services to a wider market.

One obvious way to achieve this is through automating advice.

LV= started robo advice development in 2015 in partnership with Wealth Wizards and went live with Retirement Wizard less than 12 months later.

It generates regulated retirement income advice, selecting different product and provider combinations across the market. 

I've found customers still want human interaction and this remains an important element of the service to ‘design in’.

We have also found that through partnering with the latest technology we achieve agility that enables us to adapt quickly as we gain insights and, in turn, allows us to securely build up the numbers of customers using the service. T

his use of technology has also enabled us to open up access to customers through five new partnerships.

There has been much hype about the advent of robo-advice over the past three years and from a distance some people may think progress has been slow. However, as a practising robo-adviser, there is no doubt that robo-advice is generating sophisticated advice solutions now, and advancing rapidly.

We are on the cusp of a much-needed and significant financial services transformation.

New technologies, including Artificial Intelligence and speech recognition, and shared services and data, such as GDPR, Open Banking, auto-enrolment and the Pensions Dashboard, are colliding and changing the potential for how our industry better serves customers.

This changing world of technology and democratisation of consumer rights are enablers for radically different connected money management propositions to emerge.

This will have the ability to genuinely pull everything together for the customer, relieve them of some of the risks of poor decisions, as well as giving them confidence to make decisions so that they are better off in the outcomes they achieve.

Importantly, only service propositions that are integrated with sophisticated and rigorous automated advice solutions will be truly able to help customers with selecting and explaining the specific product recommendations they crave for the more complex choices.

Why? Because the threshold regulatory standard and consumer assurance for delivering personalised product recommendations to customers is financial advice.

So in the world of fintech and robo-advice, things are moving fast.

Modern advisory firms that embrace and re-imagine the potential for how future advice solutions can help meet customer needs are sure to prosper.

And, most importantly, by harnessing the power of technology to make advice more affordable and accessible we will be able to help all customers to make more out of their hard-earned savings.

David Stevens is director of advice at LV=