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What advisers are saying

Editor’s comment of the week: Automation in financial services can go only so far 

The advice and technology debate seems to be driven by four factors: providers wishing to cut costs; intermediaries still wishing to “cop” commission; minimising the compliance burden; and IT providers salivating at the prospect.

But let us consider some other points. How many people complain about call centres and auto-responses? Yes, shopping at Amazon is easy, straightforward and deservedly popular but would you wish to get your legal advice online? Would you go through a divorce using only online automated advice?

Automation in financial services has a place, no doubt, but it can go only so far. The hype always makes the assumption that financial matters are simple and nothing could be further from the truth. 

The assumption is also made that automation of this type can be a supplement. It is assumed that face-to-face advice is the alternative. Not necessarily. 

Many of us have not seen some of our clients face-to-face for years. Clients may well be engaging more on a hands-on basis via technology – but not in my experience. My clients utilise me in the same way that I utilise my travel agent, accountant and solicitor. I pick up the phone (or send an email or letter), outline the problem or request and ask them to get on with it. I have a day job. Likewise with my clients.

Harry Katz

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