It will probably come as no surprise to you to hear that Leith’s leading platform and investment consultancy * are doing a fair bit of work at the moment in the exciting area of robo advice. Firms large and small want to understand what is going on, where the opportunity might be, and crucially what the target customer might look like. As we work through this exercise its striking that for a lot of companies their target customer is kind of like me. Early 40s (cough), young-ish family, decent job (cough), some savings but looking to do more, reasonably tech savvy & seriously good looking. Sadly, when I look at the advice propositions out there at the moment, none are giving me what I (really really) want. So, if you wannabe my robo, this is what you’ve got to do (in no particular order)

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want

1. Advice. I want advice, and I don’t want it to be just about a single product. I want to be told to pay off debt, increase my employer pension contributions, sort out a will, whatever is actually appropriate for my needs.
2. Charging. I’m happy to pay for this advice, but don’t make it contingent on a product sell. I want to pay my robo the same whether or not I buy an ISA.
3. Charging again. And don’t force me to pay you an ad-valorem servicing fee. I don’t want to be paying you 1% for ever, but I’m happy to pay explicit fees as and when its required.
4. Risk. By all means assess my risk capacity and risk tolerance, but I also want to know risk required. How much risk should I be taking?
5. Tell me what to do. In addition to the risk I should be taking, tell me what I should be doing, nag me if I am not doing it, and stop me doing stupid things.
6. Blend online/phone/face2face. I like communicating on my terms. Sometimes I might want to speak to you. Sometimes I might even want to meet with you. Most of the time I want to do stuff online. However, whatever way I contact you I want it to be integrated & a seamless experience. I don’t want to have to tell the call centre who I am and what I want.
7. Integrate with my bank. My current account is the centre of my financial life. Everything I have comes in or out of my current account. I want to be able to see my investments & my financial plan alongside my day to day spending. I haven’t changed my bank this century, so I’m a (stupidly) loyal customer. Give me what I want.
8. Children. Nothing is more important to me than my children. Give me the ability to start saving for their future, and show me the long term impact of saving even small amounts. Allow me to share this with them and get them interested/excited with saving.
9. Mobile. I’m a cool trendy professional (cough), and I spend a lot of time with my iphone. I want to be able to see what is going on with my financial world wherever I am. I’m happy to be nudged into good behaviours, but don’t allow me to do a late night pub withdrawal.
10. Remember I am human. My behaviour is not rational. I have lots of inbuilt biases that often make me do stupid things. Be aware of these, protect me from them, and demonstrate how this adds value to my life, not how clever your ETF selection process is.
11. Regulation. It’s bad enough trying to understand the regulation surrounding online advice as an industry expert (cough), but it’s impossible if you are a real person. I want the comfort that my financial future is regulated and protected. I don’t want you to hide behind t&cs.

Over the last few months we have been lucky enough to work with clients who recognise the above, and are building solutions to address these needs. Some are going for specific elements, others are thinking big and building towards the full solution. My financial life is about to be spiced up, and I can’t wait.

* = Probably

Robo Spice