Keeping up with the zeitgeist is a tricky business at the best of times. Ask the Kardashians. Fashions change. Technology changes. If you want a glimpse of the future, you could do worse than to take a look at what makes the younger generations tick.
And in one of the most fascinating by-products of the digital revolution, Millennials (and Gen-Xers) have been diligently evolving their peripheral vision, courtesy of the appendage-like status now afforded to mobile devices that have become pseudo mini life hubs. Few aspects of life are exempt and we are now (worryingly) perfectly capable of walking down busy roads, eyes glued to screens, somehow avoiding mass collisions. Mostly.
For some time the UK Government has been exploring how new technology can play a positive role in retail financial services markets. The Financial Conduct Authority has been looking at the potential to use technology to innovate retail insurance and investment markets. The latest research indicates that demand for digital solutions is strong across age and wealth demographics. Just as technology helps us to get a taxi, watch television when and where we want, or find a hotel with our preferred mini bar snacks, personalised technology is now bringing financial planning to the masses in other parts of the globe – not least the US.
Millennials are living their lives online so we can assume that’s where they will go for advice. At least at first. But technology is not just for the kids - far from it. In fact, the assumption that technology should be pointed only at those investors who can’t afford access to full financial advice is flawed. Good financial advice (real life planning) depends on things that technology can overlook, like intellectual capital and an understanding of nuance. But, just because someone has £x investable assets, it does not automatically follow that they will only want to deal with their financial adviser on a face-to-face basis in every single interaction.
The debate, to date, has been a tad reductive: human vs. technology. One or the other. However, choices are not binary and most people don’t want to either do it all themselves or have it done for them.
For most, the truth is closer to somewhere in between. We maintain our belief in the importance of a relationship with a qualified financial adviser, but this must be supported by technology to improve client experience and provide choice.