By Mohamed Ali Bernat UK web-based advisory service mPower is to launch its service in Europe, comm...
By Mohamed Ali Bernat
UK web-based advisory service mPower is to launch its service in Europe, commercial director Ben Goss announced at the Sofa Conference in November.
The launch of the service, which offers a 24-hour personalised advisory service, is an alternative to seeking guidance from intermediaries.
Goss made the announcement during a debate with Aifa chairman Paul Smee on the impact of e-commerce on intermediaries.
Goss told IFAs at the conference that many of their clients were online and using the internet to gain advice, and added that high-quality, convenient and affordable advice could be delivered via the web.
"A third of the adult population in the UK is online, with 5.6 million having searched for financial products. This indicates that the future is online," he said.
Goss added that IFAs relying on clients in their golden years should beware, as research has shown an increasing number of older people are using the internet as a tool to help them with their financial decisions.
Smee said IFAs who complain they spend too much time on administration and regulation should harness the technology available to them.
He said: "Surely the real winners will be those who marry the virtues of technology with traditional skills. For those who want to compare and collect data the internet will be a real boon."
Smee warned that progress would not be smooth and added that the industry has not yet had its first big financial scandal through transactions carried out on the internet.
He said: "The internet will not replace face-to-face advice. People still need the human touch and research into why people seek advice is increasingly showing the use of words like 'trust', 'confidence' and 'peace of mind'. This cannot be replicated by a computer."
Smee added that an adviser could bring lateral thought to their interaction with clients, introducing different strands and strategies to widen the options available to them.
Goss said that one of the earliest concerns of mPower was that people would not trust it sufficiently to put forward personal details but this has not emerged as a major factor.
mPower works by taking client details and returning a tailored set of options in a convenient manner, according to Goss. He added: "The US has the most advanced system which can even adopt different vocabularies depending on the client's level of experience."
Goss said the benefit of online advice to clients was that it was all transparent and came in a written format that eliminated all ambiguities. He added that clients could absorb the information at their leisure without pressure, while the elimination of a sales force made the service more cost effective.
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