Technology and financial planning

Technology has revolutionised the way we live and work. Things are no different in the world of financial planning.

Not long ago, engaging a financial adviser was a different experience. It would not be unusual for the Yellow Pages to be the starting point, followed by a visit from an adviser equipped with their briefcase and business card. The adviser would take down some handwritten notes, before arranging a follow up visit to complete the necessary paperwork, which would ultimately be posted on to one of the many life (e.g. Prudential, Scottish Widows) offices of the time.

Fast forward to today and you may never have met your financial adviser in person. From an online enquiry, email exchange and Microsoft Teams or Zoom call, to a PDF recommendation report (shared securely via a client portal), digital signature and online platform application. The whole process completed from behind a laptop without a single hand shaken or page printed.

At Active Chartered Financial Planners, we advise clients across the UK, whether remotely or face to face. We see technology as an aid to great financial planning, not a replacement for it. Technology can help to illustrate someone’s ability to retire early, freeing them from a job they have grown tired of, yet still have the peace of mind that they will enjoy a comfortable retirement.

As advisers we see redundancies, divorce, bereavement and more, all of which can naturally cause financial worries. Combining technology with the personal touch of someone who understands those concerns is what brings financial planning to life. The technology itself is impressive, but a tool is only as good as the hands that wield it.

We have witnessed the impact of technology in almost every aspect of finance, but perhaps the most notable influence has been the increased interest in investing. Mobile trading apps removed the barriers to investing and brought stock trading to the hands (or phones) of millions. Figures from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) show that in the UK, customers opened 7.1 million investing accounts in the first 12 months of the pandemic[1].

So, if you can now invest from your phone or laptop then why speak with a financial adviser? The answer comes down to what you are looking for. When investing, you have one of three routes available to you:

  1. The ‘DIY’ route: You have the option to open your own pension or investment account online, fund it, and select your own investments in a matter of minutes. Like most DIY, in theory you can keep your costs down however, the onus is on you. Whilst there are plenty of sources offering tips and guidance online, we encourage serious caution here. False information, scams and a lack of safeguards present real risks to investors.
  2. The ‘guided’ route: Sometimes referred to as ‘robo-advice’, there are a number of providers online that will allow you to open a pension or investment account, then guide you towards a specific investment option based on a series of questions. Think of it like an algorithm attempting to determine what best suits you based on the limited information it can draw from you. These solutions typically cost more than the DIY route, but can help in narrowing down the investment field and making things a little less daunting. We are in favour of limiting the chance of investment mistakes or scams. However, with a ’robo’ solution, you might ask yourself how well the computer actually knows you.
  3. The advised route: We strongly believe in the value of the human touch, combined with the latest in financial planning technology.

Our advisers are not only highly experienced, but also qualified – we know the risks.

A good adviser will get to know you, ask the right questions, and can answer the questions you want an answer to. We can then personalise your financial plan and investment strategy so that it is designed to best meet your goals in life.

There is no right answer and any of the three routes could suit you. In our experience, time and time again, we hear from our clients that the value of taking advice is in the peace of mind it brings.

Technology enhances the experience but has yet to replace the human touch.

The content of this blog is for information only and must not be considered as financial advice.  We always recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making any financial decisions.

[1] https://www.ft.com/content/f9d546a3-cd7c-419b-844d-7039a1eb5294

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