The Answer’s Yes. Now what’s the question?


People do business with people, but on the 30th September, Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, was speaking at an FCA conference on robo-advice.

That’s right, ‘robo’, short for robot and ‘advice’, not just used in the same sentence but as a joined up word. Please don’t think we are Ludites that don’t want to embrace technology, we just think that there is a vitally important place for human involvement in the financial advice process.

Ms Baldwin stated that one company that wanted to set up an automated financial advice service was told it would need to ask 247 questions in order to give the required advice. That’s a lot of questions! We looked at our own fact finding questionnaire and immediately realised that the question we need to ask is ‘What constitutes a question?’ For example ‘Please state your full name’ can be seen as one question, whereas ‘Please state your first name’ followed by similar requests for middle names and surnames could be construed as three questions, or even four or five if your parents wanted to make sure you were named after enough uncles or aunts.

This is the petty bit. The real issue is: could you even provide 247 pieces of information on your financial requirements, or more to the point, would you want to type that much information into a computer. Exam season is over, but there are fewer questions in a maths GCSE paper and nobody wants to go through that just to find out how much you should pay into a pension.

So long live the human touch with a thought inspired process that sticks to the relevant topics and engages the prospective client in a two way discussion. Long live empathy and understanding what a client is hoping to achieve; and long live understanding what a client wants to gain from a meeting. Throw in a cup of coffee and a bit of banter about the rugby (unless you’ve travelled in from Cardiff) and you have a personalised ‘People working with People’ service. We still have rules and regulations; we still have to meet the requirements of the Financial Conduct Authority, but we can do it with a welcome smile and a level of reassurance you will not see from interfacing with your lap top.

Mantle Financial Planning – where we put people first.

If you would like more information on opportunities centred on your personal financial circumstances, please contact us >>

Written by Sean O'Shea | Senior Consultant

Sean joined has been an IFA for over 20 years. Read more >>

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