Robert Reid: What advisers can learn from Uber


Now, unless you have been living in a vacuum you will have noticed there is a battle going on in the world of taxis. Originally, the changes focused on alternative methods of locating and hailing cabs using smartphone apps, but that position is constantly evolving and we are now seeing services that offer opportunities such as ride sharing too.

There has, understandably, been a lot of protest from traditional cab operators but, despite this, expansion of such services continues unabated worldwide.

I see a lot of parallels between this evolution and what is going on in our own sector. Financial services needs to learn from the mistakes made by the cab operators and avoid their failed strategy of adopting a highly entrenched position in a vain attempt to block changes.

Consumer needs are changing fast thanks to the speed of communication via social media. Any seismic shifts in approach do not come cheap and this could prove to be the barrier to many, quite apart from an unwillingness to change. Some will argue that small independent firms are at the biggest disadvantage – unless, of course, they take the step of partnering with networks or other organisations that allow collective use of technology.

Change through disruption is now the default method of entry to any sector by new business models. Indeed, some describe what is happening in both the taxi and financial services markets as unstoppable.

We all have to live with change. Just because we have been doing something one way for a long time does not make it sacrosanct.

It could be argued financial advisers have a more specialised skill set than the typical taxi driver but the pressure on price and service is just as pronounced in our sector as it is in the world of the cab firm. As information becomes easier to obtain there is no doubt that proving your worth will require more than a flash website or brochure.

As the noise around robo-advice increases, advisers need to think about integration instead of confrontation and take advantage of the impressive tools now on offer.

To deliver a truly valued experience it is essential to think beyond investments and consider how to really make people’s lives that much better. Clients need a more personal message that focuses on their needs for life, rather than one that just looks at their money.

People like having things that are more understandable and more controllable. It makes it a lot easier for them to survive in the current world. And it is a lot easier for people to track that experience against services than against portfolio performance.

Change brings opportunity. If the cab companies had focused on investing in change and not in trying to stop it they could have possibly come out on top. Instead, their market is changing at a speed in spite of them. That is hugely regrettable and something that we in financial services have to avoid.

Robert Reid is director of The Ideas Lab