Advisory firms need to do more to attract the next generation of clients or risk selling themselves short, financial adviser Keith Churchouse has said.
His firm Chapters Financial is developing a chatbot platform for its online advice business Saidso.
Mr Churchouse said: “Saidso has opened the company to a new client base. Any organisation that is not embracing the opportunities the next generation has to offer is selling itself short. That’s why we have been working on this for two years.”
The world of artificial intelligence is a growing arena. Providers have gone further with it than advisers, because they have the deeper pockets.
Mr Churchouse acknowledges that technological developments require investment, but at the same time it has opened doors at Chapters Financial to new clients.
“The costs to reach the market and to create high quality interactive online advice is significant. It is a business decision that many firms have to decide whether they will do or not,” he said.
The chatbot will be aimed at the generation of clients who are more comfortable with changing and emerging technology. They are usually 45 years old or younger; the typical age group of customers who already use the Saidso website, which has been operational for the past two years.
Mr Churchouse said: “It is effectively a helping hand to allow individuals to be able to be communicated to in a friendly but receptive way. It allows great interactions with a client on an artificial intelligence basis and enables them to complete the process more efficiently and to get great conversion level.
“We want to continue to build our technology and we want to be forerunners of online financial advice. The next gain we can see is to add a chatbot.”
Alongside Saidso, Chapters Financial continues to service the more traditional client base of older customers.
According to tech firm We Build Bots, chatbots can help advisers save time while enabling them to develop a deeper understanding of younger customers.
Paul Shepherd, founder and chief executive of We Build Bots, said: “Millennials in particular want and expect immediate responses across the platforms native to them, which include mobile and messaging. When it comes to instant advice across an environment users find natural, chatbots offer distinct advantages over other channels for businesses and consumers alike.
“With standardised responses, the ability to ‘learn’ from users and present options accordingly, chatbots could be a real time saver for advisers. Through a series of simple questions, advisers could gain a deeper insight into consumer needs, preferences and financial habits in a short space of time.
“Chatbot technology can then either provide a range of product options in a truly unbiased approach or take the information gleaned as part of a fact-find for follow ups, directly with an adviser.”