Robo-advice 

One in five advisers set to launch robo-adviser

One in five advisers set to launch robo-adviser

There has been a significant shift in adviser attitudes to robo-advice, according to the latest survey on the subject carried out by Panacea Adviser.

Around a fifth (20 per cent) of advisers are either in the process (8 per cent) of incorporating robo-advice into their offering, or (12 per cent) are considering such a move.

The survey found that only 2 per cent of advisers currently have robo-advice as part of their offering.

The survey was conducted previously in July 2016, and at that time 89 per cent of advisers regarded robo-advice as a threat to their business, rather than a potential opportunity.

Attitudes are also changing among large firms, with LV having launched Wealth Wizards, which is a robo-advice service for those considering retirement options.

Panacea Adviser surveyed 102 advisers, with 66 per cent undecided as to whether robo-advice is a positive or negative for their business.

Derek Bradley, chief executive of Panacea Adviser, said: “Robo-advice has attracted a great deal of attention and industry debate, which is what most likely sparked the initial negative reaction from advisers towards the ‘rise of the robos’ a year ago.

"While automated services still represent a relatively small market here in the UK and the technology itself is also fairly limited at this stage, it is nevertheless interesting to see advisers remaining open to some of the opportunities presented by robo-advice.

“But for robos to really take off, I would argue that the word ‘advice’ needs to be replaced with something more along the lines of ‘guidance’. And hand and hand with this, the FCA needs to step in to approve any robo models as fit for their defined purpose before launch, meaning that if the algorithms behind any piece of robo technology prove to be wrong then the approving regulator would be responsible and not the adviser.

"Without all these ducks lined up, robo is highly likely to fail.”

Martin Bamford, managing director at Cranleigh-based IFA firm Informed Choice, said: “We’ve dabbled in this, with the creation of an online Sipp and an online investment platform.

"In both cases, we struggled to gain sufficient scale, as our business is built on a relatively small number of close relationships with high net worth clients.

"We have no plans at the moment to create a new mass market technology-led proposition, although we do believe technology will play an important role in the efficient running of our business in the future.

"The combination of human expertise and experience with efficient robo-advice tools will lead to the best outcomes for clients, reducing the administration burden for advisers and allowing us to focus on where we add the most value.”

david.thorpe@ft.com