Would a fully-automated advice capability drive better service standards and outcomes for my advice business and my clients, or does it simply make my job redundant? Is all the talk of technological revolution that ricochets around the world out of Silicon Valley, the advent of artificial intelligence and robotics, and the reported demise of human labour inputs loom as a terrible threat, or an amazing opportunity?
Hearing the various interpretations of so-called ‘robo-advice’ models, you may be thinking the ‘bots are preparing to take over the world. However, leading US providers are now introducing humans into their robo-advice models, or launching “hybrid” automated models.
Let me be clear: I am not a fan of the expression ‘robo-advice’. It implies that we are somehow able to replace human beings with a fully functioning, (artificially) intelligent machine or algorithmic alternative. As if to prove my point, some of the biggest ‘robo-advisers’ in the US have capitulated and are adding humans to their advice services.
Adviser education standards recently set in law demonstrate again a fundamental truth of our era: regulation imposed by government - yielding to consumer pressure - continues to be a most disruptive force in the financial services sector, especially for financial advisers.
In fact, the hard-working members of Australia’s financial advice community have borne the brunt of constant regulatory change for too long. Let’s hope the latest shift signals an easing of the overload. Our firm is doing its bit to help simplify and shave the compliance burden on advisers.
A RegTech revolution for financial planning software
Let's learn from past experience and move the industry forward.
For financial planning software - one of the most-maligned sectors of the broader Australian finance industry – RegTech could prove particularly revolutionary.
In order to fully achieve revolutionary goals both industry and regulators must agree on what compliant advice looks like in a RegTech world.
If consumers can see their SOA had been ‘rated’ or ‘stamped’ as compliant with industry standards, based on thoroughly-tested RegTech processes, then perhaps confidence in the advice industry itself might be restored.
Reputation-enhancement, in the long-run, offers a far cheaper solution than damage control.
Well, it draws an interesting parallel: the potential standoff between the White House and Silicon Valley and other traditional car manufacturers, reflects what is currently shaping up between Australia’s corporate cop and a swag of digital advice providers operating everything from online calculators to complex cloud-based financial algorithms.
My view is that the rules around digital automated advice must be tough. Enforceable. Not an opt-in or a ‘should have’ recommendation. Data and algorithms underpinning advice must be subject to scrutiny by qualified experts. There is too much at stake for Australia not to get it right and lead the world with best consumer practice in this emerging area.