In the media today, any online, direct to consumer investment proposition comes with the tag of ‘robo advice’ – regardless of whether any ‘advice’ is actually part of the service, or how streamlined, automated, and process-driven it actually is.
What started out as disparaging terminology in the US to describe early Digital Disruptors such as Wealthfront and Betterment has seamlessly crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific and is now part of our everyday language to describe a multitude of automated investment-based solutions around the globe. From simple, fledgling fintech propositions (high on ambition and customer-centricity, but low on brand and customer numbers), to the dawn of next generation Big Brand propositions (much broader, richer, omni-channel, and scalable), and even to futuristic services from the Data Giants – Robo 3.0.
Yet despite the hype, serious questions remain to be answered:
- What part of the value chain do I want to control, and why?
- How do I make any money at this?
- How does this new channel complement my existing business?
- Is this just a Millennials play, or will other segments be attracted?
- What does a winning proposition look like for my target markets and target customers?
- How do I differentiate my proposition, and future-proof it in the face accelerating tech developments?
- Can I develop this myself, or do I need to partner or acquire?
- How do I acquire new customers and engage existing ones?
- Who am I competing against, and what must I do to be successful?
- What can I learn from overseas?
- How do I maximise the use of existing data sources – both internal and external?
- How do I mitigate cyber-attacks and security issues?
- How do I avoid regulatory censure and systemic issues?
- How long have I reasonably got? And what happens then?
At Altus we believe it is critical to ask the right questions, to debate and to challenge, informed by:
- a real understanding of the wider marketplace and the key market trends and drivers
- robo insights from home and abroad
- a deep understanding of the technology and BPO players operating in this space
- and importantly, underpinned by our own UK customer research.
There is of course still time for providers and suppliers to sort out the fact from the fiction, to respond to the threats and opportunities arising from this lower cost channel. Still time to create a compelling value proposition. Still time to develop an operating model and to select the right partners to develop a service that truly meets the specific requirements of your customers. But time is running out….