Why robo-tech needs a human touch

By Fasiega Benjamin

Terms like robo-advisors or robo-technology have become buzz words in the investment industry as more and more firms increase spend on technology and digital services.

robo-tech global AUM

Source: BI Intelligence

However, as digital platforms strive to improve decision making based on complex algorithms, the human element is becoming a critical differentiator. How much automation is enough – and how much is too much?

Success = Expectations/reality

The success of a firm’s robo-technology depends on its ability to not only meet but rather exceed clients’ expectations. It requires an “Agile approach” in developing robo-technology so that clients are part of the journey throughout the development.  The “Agile approach” is an ongoing process that includes user testing and continuous feedback.  It provides deep insights into our clients’ preferences and ensures the continual improvement and enhancement of products and services. 

Preserving the human touch

While a fully automated and digital approach is efficient, we have seen that clients often want human interaction or personal guidance, which is why at Nedgroup Investments we have incorporated a hybrid approach that blends technology with the human touch to provide an exceptional client experience.

Planning for retirement can appear to be a daunting task and we appreciate that no two clients are exactly alike. Their needs may differ according to their age, risk appetite, years left to retire, current investments and savings goals. 

The challenge therefore is to create technology that facilitates ease of use and allows clients to choose how they would like to be serviced i.e. a fully automated process or a blend where we walk clients through the steps should they need.

Based on this objective, our automated online investment platform, Extraordinary Life was developed to guide clients on their pre-and post-retirement goals. The online investing platform has been recognised internationally for its ground-breaking technology and customer experience – winning the Banker Tech project of the year in the category for AI and Robotics – and being nominated as a finalist in the global Gartner Awards for 2018.

The key characteristics and benefits of Nedgroup Investments robo-technology:

1. Hybrid solution: high tech-high touch

The careful blend of technology with human touch offers clients the best of both worlds. It allows clients to dictate how they would like to be serviced i.e. a complete automated process or clients can select the level of human interaction through our chat bot, ranging from an electronic virtual assistant to a one-on-one session with a human financial planner.  It also ensures that the human interaction is focused on the areas the clients require assistance with. 

2.  Efficiency and ease of use

The automated on-boarding technology requires no paperwork and includes electronic forms, FICA straight from Home Affairs and electronic signatures. The technology is interactive and available 24 hours a day which means our clients can transact, view statements or chat at their convenience.

3. Accessibility

Clients can access the investment platform anywhere, anytime through their smart phones and computers – so investing really is on their terms.

4. Low cost, diverse investment solution

The Nedgroup Investments Core funds, a rules-based (passive) fund range provides clients with an award-winning* performance track record. A complete risk-profiled range, the Nedgroup Investments Core Guarded Fund (low risk), Nedgroup Investments Core Diversified Fund (medium risk) and Core Accelerated Fund (high risk) range provides an ideal low-cost solution to meet investors different needs. These multi-asset funds provide complete diversification across a range of asset classes by investing in cash, bonds, equities, property and offshore. The Funds are Regulation 28 compliant making them suitable for Pension Funds, Provident Funds and Retirement Funds.

5. Customised financial plans

We understand that no two clients are exactly alike. As a result we have developed our investment platform to interpret and assess individual input through algorithms to provide a customised investment plan. Clients also benefit from updates to their plans based on any transactional activity.

6. Tax efficiency

The algorithms embedded into the investment platform consider not only the individual financial objectives of the investor, but also tax optimisation - ensuring clients get maximum value for their investments

7. Complete transparency

Fees can make a big difference to an investment over time and our research has shown that generally, investors are not always fully informed about the fees that they are paying. Clients are often shown what the annual management fee will be and not shown the complete costs e.g. admin or transaction fees. At Nedgroup Investments, our clients are made aware of the total investment charges. In addition, clients can have full access their investment portfolios to see exactly what they are invested in at any given time.

So where to from here with robo-technology?

Robo-technology and artificial intelligence have changed the way we do business and will continue to do so in future. We believe the innovations will continue to drive progress.  As a socially conscious financial services provider, Nedgroup Investments embraces the role that smart technology and the human touch can play in providing investors with enhanced client experiences that encourages better savings and retirement outcomes. Watch this space for further digital innovations!

* Morningstar Aggressive Allocation winner 2015 and Runner-up in 2018.