Space travel, Formula 1 and robo-advice

Mark Dryden

February 13, 2018

Mary Dryden is business development director at 360Dotnet

Space travel has been described as a significant drain on the public purse that endangers lives in an environment that is fundamentally hostile to humans. On plus side it has provided society with innovations such as water filtration, memory foam, type 1 diabetes treatments and ultrasound enhancements.

Formula 1 could be viewed as less of a sport and more of a televised science experiment, but that industry has led to improved aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, adaptive suspension and a host of safety features to the cars we drive today.

So can we expect similar from robo-advice?

Robo-advice certainly has the potential to deliver changes to society as a whole, albeit probably not to heights of smartphone cameras or lightweight structural carbon fibre. What it will likely do is follow a similar pattern of innovation aiming for heady goals while companies evolve their own proposition and align that to the mass market.

Stepping back to consider the goals of robo-Advice and one possible vision of the transacting and replacing of human interaction can be difficult, even unfathomable, to consider how we go from where we are today into that distant future. The trick is not to consider the giant leaps required but to embrace the little steps that potentially take the industry to that goal or towards something else completely. It is the little steps that normalise the proposition or find new seams to delve into.

Already, many of the online-only brokers have sophisticated mechanisms to entice visitors, provide detailed information and qualify the requirements of the visitor leading to some interaction to continue. Nothing new here, just the standard sales funnel setting a journey and dropping any enquiry to a real-life adviser. The key though is the nature of the interaction and the acquisition of the individual in the first place, such brokers are using polished interfaces to engage the individual from their first to subsequent visits – gone are the days of an enquiry form or call back mechanisms on your website.

Using either chat bot esque interfaces or through standard instant messaging tools, the nature of client engagement is changing but using tried and tested techniques such as existing and comfortable interactions (such as Facebook messenger or two-way chat), delivering worthy and quality data to inform decision making, and by establishing a trusting relationship through the interaction. This isn’t Robo or automated advice rather it is the first steps towards an immersive and interactive advice solution that can leverage a series of existing and emerging technologies in terms of cognitive reasoning and recognition, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

For those taking a circumspect approach to the rise of robo-advice, I would caution some consideration towards how these brokers are presenting themselves to the market. What are they doing right or wrong or just different and what are incumbent businesses doing to tackle or join these threats. As one broker recently commented: “These innovators are talking to your clients Mr Broker” and probably through channels many wouldn’t entertain such as pay-per-click, social media advertising or even digital assistants. There’s a lot to be said for first-mover advantage or being an early adopter; late adoption though can mean there’s a lot of catch-up and maybe is one space race too far.”

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