Am I going to be terminated?
PUBLISHED: 09:42 16 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:12 16 October 2017
Technology is moving at such a fast rate, financial advisor Keith Hood wonders if he is going to be replaced by a robot...
Technology is moving at an incredible rate and transforming the financial services industry. Its not just our industry of course, we all see the changes in our daily lives. Our parents generation would be stunned to see me paying for my lunchtime sandwich by waving my watch past a scanner or even answering a phone call by speaking into it. It would all have sounded like science fiction even 25 years ago. Handheld mobile phones are as recent an invention as 1973, although back then it took 10 hours to charge your phone for just a 30 minute talk time and incredibly the iphone is only 10 years old.
This explosion of technology has had very significant effects on the financial services industry and will without doubt continue to do so. This is a real concern perhaps not for me, but for the next generation and beyond. Technology is already replacing many jobs and is potentially the biggest factor in changing the picture of employment. Think cash machines replacing bank staff, think supermarket express tills, even collecting cinema tickets now does not require human interaction.
So the challenge for us as a relatively small company is how we can keep up with the pace and will we even be needed in the future? Our clients have being able to source and even apply for a mortgage on the internet for 10 years or so already. When banks started to develop websites to effectively bypass financial advisors the predictions of our demise were almost universal and yet the opposite has happened. 10 years ago the number of people that arranged a mortgage directly with a Bank or Building Society was roughly 50%, the remainder seeking advice from a financial advisor. However despite the increased availability of information online more people than ever consult a financial advisor and the trend towards brokers continues to grow, current predictions are that around 70% of the mortgage market comes via financial advisors. So why is this? I believe there are many factors. Many of our clients will have looked at mortgage rates online or used various comparison websites, including our own. Having done that more than ever turn to a financial advisor to guide them. Other factors seem to be the poor experience people face when trying to actually buy such a complex product online. We hear many tales of frustrating hours spent applying only to reach the final stage and be rejected for no obvious reason. Or worse still, appearing to be successful but after supplying documentation getting rejected. Products themselves can be complex, but even more so is the labyrinth of lending rules that lenders apply that you couldn’t possibly be expected to know. A skilled independent mortgage advisor understands the products and ever changing criteria, they will not only advise you on the best product for your circumstances but will know the faster lenders and painfully slow ones to avoid. They will also have personal relationships with lenders and can often persuade lenders to be flexible and go beyond their normal criteria with applications. Roboadvice as its known in our industry can’t do that. So I don’t feel that I’m going to be terminated anytime soon. I’ll be back.
Keith Hood can be contacted at Warners Financial Services, sponsors of this column at www.warnersfs.co.uk