At Finovate, Remembering the Humans as Financial Services Embraces the Robots

by on Oct 23, 2017

At this year’s Finovate conference, industry thought leaders took the stage to discuss their opinions on wealth management in the digital age. The value of human interaction was a common theme we saw through many of the speakers’ discussions. Money is an emotional topic, and coping with market swings and struggling to pay bills are frustrating and difficult things to deal with—especially if a robot is managing your money. For this reason, consumers will continue to demand access to strong wealth managers and customer service representatives, no matter how advanced technology gets. Unfortunately, many banks and brokerages are missing the mark. Below, we offer an overview of interesting discussions with thought leaders at the conference:

Kapin Vora of Capco discussed the importance of human advice, especially in a bear market. He argued that thus far, the launch of robo-advisors took place in a bull market, however, once volatility hits, investors will require humans to help them deal with their emotions and not pull out their investments. Firms need to alter how they fundamentally engage with the investor from both a product and interactive standpoint, because rebranding is more than updating a website.

Jon Stein of Betterment promoted his firm’s “hyper consumer-focused” nature and discussed how customers want performance, convenience and peace of mind. The firm launched 24/7 advice from certified financial planners in an effort to better engage with clients and create a more personalized experience. Stein stated that his best customer experiences have taken place at smaller startups, because they hire “better people who can relate to customers.”

Daniel Latimore of Celent talked about the importance of keeping people in mind when talking about fintech opportunities. Retail banks marked customer relationships as their number one strategic retail priority and marked customer experience as the number one differing banking “product.” Natural language processing and robotic process automation (RPA) can be excellent ways to improve the customer experience.

Kevin Morrison of Aite highlighted the value of turning transactions into relationships. Chat bots and robo advisors do not have the ability to build relationships and should be altered to support human interaction. Morrison discussed his memorable experience with US Bank: after looking at banking products online, a representative from his local branch gave him a call and asked if he had any questions about the products he was looking at, which he felt was a strong way of integrating technology into the customer experience.

Stessa Cohen of Gartner emphasized the importance of digital empathy—the ability to sense and customize consumer needs. Cohen provided an example of someone who is struggling to a pay a utility bill. With summer approaching, the bank should reach out to the consumer and provide some options to help them pay their utility bills such as negotiating a loan, providing an overdraft offer or shifting providers. Cohen argued that firms need to deliver “an authentic consumer experience.”