Automation will eat the world

I was on a panel session at the TISA annual conference last week. It was about innovation and one of the themes that came up was that of automation. One need only look to the innovations associated with client on-boarding to see some examples of where improvements have already been made in this area (data collection, the advice process, investment management and trading execution).

Whilst we continue to be busy helping clients with further automation, I think that we will soon moving into an age where the complexity associated with automation of activities and processes is all but gone and technology is no longer a barrier. So what does this mean? It means we will have the ability to deliver truly frictionless client journeys; the panacea often touted in trade and design press. We will have removed all of the moments of pain from our customer journeys, on-boarding people in just a few mouse clicks.

And as soon as one firm has efficiently automated the client on-boarding process, the rest will follow. But, by removing all the friction from a journey, we will also have removed any opportunity for relationship building.  At that point there will be little opportunity for firms to differentiate themselves and the logical outcome is a race to the bottom on price.

So what can firms do to stop themselves falling into this trap? It is vital that people understand which aspects of their client interaction provide relationship building opportunities and which act as irritants. People love talking about their goals and aspirations, for example. They like being excited about their future and their family. These are the reasons people are saving and investing in the first place. Firms should be looking to engage with their customers over these points in interesting and thoughtful ways.

Conversely, customers don’t like filling in page upon page of asset data and transaction information, or repeating their postcode for the twentieth time. It is these painful moments that firms should be looking to automate away. Here, using a combination of best of breed software from leading providers and innovative in house design, firms can look to remove friction and improve their client experience as a result.

Those firms that don’t grasp this distinction will either fail to automate efficiently enough to keep up with their competition, or will fail to create engagement that is compelling enough to build relationships with their customer base.

It is clear to me that we will soon have moved past a point where automation is the obstacle. We are instead approaching a point where choosing what not to automate will be the real challenge.


This blog was originally published in the Altus Consulting Blog. You can find the original blog, and many more great pieces here:

You can find more articles from me on my website and on LinkedIn

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