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Technology, products and services

John Porteous
Group Head of Distribution, Charles Stanley

“The benefits of robo-advice have failed to materialise..."

John Porteous, Group Head of Distribution for the investment management company Charles Stanley, believes that the future of FinTech lies in how it can be successfully combined with human interaction.

In a market precarious to dips, all firms are open to the negative impacts of investment performance on the esteem customers hold a firm to, and accordingly, net promoter scores. Relationship management here is essential, to provide clear information, reassure and coach people to help them make the best longterm decisions. “Digital will help this process,” Porteous says, “but it should be seen as additive to what we’re already doing, not an attempt to replace existing customer engagement”. He adds: “As part of this evolution we see an increasing use of technology enabling the use of video conferencing, chatbots, sending and receiving documents”. 

Even with the emergence of digital technology, Charles Stanley does not expect a wholesale shift in how clients want to interact, with many preferring a personal service with human interaction as part of a full-service, bespoke approach. Notably, Porteous points out, this remains equally true of Millennials as it does among older groups of customers. “The benefits of robo-advice have failed to materialise. Five years ago, everyone was talking about the disruptive potential of robo, but the reality is that people still want to speak to a human through call centres or face-to-face.”

For Porteous, some in the industry have been guilty of putting too much trust in technology, and have overstated the ability to provide customers with access to a single, aggregated view of their finances via API technology. “The FCA has yet to create a vision for developing frictionless online processes for supporting investment decisions. The ongoing need to meet suitability requirements has led to a stodgy experience with too many ‘kick-out’ points. We do see an eventual step-change towards greater online advice but we’re not there yet. This means firms will need a mixed approach to access consumers, which utilises digital and traditional methods.”

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