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Ian McKenna: Three firms changing the future of advice

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For over a decade, the go-to show to understand the latest thinking in financial technology has been Finovate. Last week saw another capacity crowd at its Europe event in London.

UK-based wealth management and advice was strongly represented and it is worth noting the key players I look at below are now interested in supporting propositions for other advice firms and product providers, alongside their own consumer- facing services.

What follows is a summary of why these firms are important to the future of advice. You can watch the videos of all the presentations on the Finovate website.

Wealthify

I first looked at Wealthify in this column last April. The company recently completed its angel and crowdfunding capital raising and is now moving into a series A funding.

Its most significant announcement at Finovate was with regards to the launch of its B2B2C strategy. Through this, it can offer either a white-labelled version to advice firms or, for those who want to build their own look and feel, a range of application programming interfaces. It also confirmed the app-based version of the service will go live this month.

Wealthify believes it has created a proposition that delivers in terms of simplicity and ease of use. It is targeted at mass-market savers, not the affluent, which is a huge sector where the industry can do better. It is also an area where advisers can grow relationships with new customers at a low cost to both parties. So it is potentially a very valuable investment in the future.

It is important to point out it is a non-advised service, but this is an area where there is clear consumer demand, even if adviser firms would prefer everyone got advice.

Wealth Wizards

Wealth Wizards has been pushing the envelope in terms of what can be delivered using automated advice since the day it started. Its Smart platform is delivering regulated advice to consumers in areas many advisers do not believe is possible. It is a great benchmark of the art of the possible at any given time.

Depending on the approach an organisation wants to put in place, it can provide solutions with no human interaction or which complement human staff.

It demonstrated how it can support members of a workplace pension increasing their contribution without having to contact their employer.

To use the system, members will need a high-level view of their monthly income and spend, the value of their existing pension funds and about 10 to 15 minutes to go through the process.

As well as offering a B2B service to employers, Wealth Wizards is also offering the proposition to advisers white labelled. Here, it builds a version to reflect the individual firm’s house view of advice. It has built extensive testing capability to show the impact of advice models and the recommendation they will produce. This is essential as the advice firm has to sign off the algorithms and be sure it is happy to take regulatory responsibility for the advice.

Wealth Wizards has built in considerable flexibility to accommodate firms’ existing working processes. For example, it has different versions of the service using different risk profiling tools. It is also producing a growing range of APIs to support detailed integrations.

MoneyHub

One of the key lessons the advice industry needs to learn is that people can only save if we put them more in control of their income, expenditure and debt. MoneyHub demonstrated a range of services designed to help consumers do just this.

It feeds users the information they need to know and actions they need to take to take better control of their money. For example, it can identify what someone paid for car insurance last year and put forward other options. It can also understand if things change, such as mobile phone bills, and suggest alternatives.

The service actually delivers a better indication of a client’s bank balance than their bank does, as it will project forward current account balances five days in advance. It can also monitor home loan-to-value to identify where someone may be able to get a better mortgage.

These actionable insights can liberate income, which can be directed to savings. MoneyHub is also about to move into the micro-savings market. In doing so, it is addressing an opportunity that very few financial services firms understand. True Potential has demonstrated the massive potential of micro-savings over the last few years, so it is not surprising others are now starting to follow.

More detailed analysis of each of these propositions and more can be found at F&TRC’s new www.digitalwealthinsights.com site.

Ian McKenna is director of the Finance & Technology Research Centre

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. leighkent@medics-online.co.uk leighkent@medics-online.co.uk 20th February 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Whilst the advantages of some of the aggregator platforms are clear, the use of them for bank accounts remains problematic. The platforms will often need the user to input some of their bank security information and I recently checked with my own bank who insisted that this would be a breach of the T&Cs. Until the banks and the aggregators can thrash out a consumer protection framework, I would be concerned that promoting such platforms could expose clients to risks and therefore our business too.

  2. Leigh,

    I don’t know which bank you are using or when you last checked but some a number have reviewed their stance on this issue in the last couple of years. Many of the aggregation services include an indemnity in the event that there is a loss as a result of their negligence. I have heard it questioned if blanket exclusions of the use of aggregation are enforceable under unfair contract terms legislation or indeed may breach Treating Customers Fairly.

    In any event under the Payments Services Directive which comes into force next year and will still take effect despite Brexit banks will have a legal obligation to share data with third party services if the consumer wishes them too. My understanding is to meet their PSD obligations banks are now more likely to be working with aggregators and the focus is moving away fro the need to screen share.

  3. Ian Having been invited to be a treasurer on a bank account, BArclays Bank has taken Nine Months to transfer a simple change of name and address. It started in April 2016 and according to Mr Phil Lees ( Barlcays customer Service Associate ) showed that this had been changed – but Barclays continued to send out information to third parties as part of their Breachs of Data Protection. The point is how can anyone trust Barclays Bank or any bank to act ethically or professionally – when the reality of Banking is so fundamentally poor> Poor management poor execution and lack of any proper complaints procedures. I thought Metro Bank was bad until I discovered Barclays ( and their major shareholder Blackrock ? )

  4. I checked out the Wealthify website and put in a notional £250 up front and £250 per month for 10 years. The estimated monthly fee on the illustration was £0.19 which looked fantastic until I realised it was the fee for each payment (there’d be 121 of them) and ignored the effect of growth on the fee. Very misleading imho – you can click on a tab to get an explanation but we all know that few people will bother to do so. I wasn’t impressed by their investment strategy either – e.g. I wonder what “cash equivalent” is?

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