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It goes without saying that incorporating automation into your daily routine makes the management of tasks and clients simpler and more convenient. But how much is too much automation? Is there such a thing? If so, at what point does the value derived from automation peak in relation to the client experience?

The Role of Technology in Financial Planning

The shift towards a predominantly digital financial planning experience has brought numerous changes, despite overarching goals remaining the same. Online investment platforms and automated advisory algorithms have broadened the public’s access to investment and financial planning services thanks to their instant accessibility and comparatively lower fees.

This instant accessibility also provides increased insight to investors, who want greater end-to-end visibility and control over where their investments go. ‘DIY’ financial planning has also placed more emphasis on the quality of the user experience in investors’ minds.

They want simplicity and convenience in addition to knowledge. In short, they don’t want to deal with lofty investor jargon and terminology, they want to know exactly what’s going on at every step in their financial planning journey.

While there’s no doubt that digitization of financial planning does mean that IFAs will inevitably lose certain clients to online investor apps and platforms, technology is far from the enemy of financial advisers.

The rise of automated, cloud-based investing has provided IFAs with the opportunity to refine and refocus their client base. Additionally, fintech tools can simplify our jobs as financial advisers through automation and provide a more personalised service to each client with the help of machine learning and predictive analytics.

How Much Automation Is Too Much?

That being said, advisers should be wary of applying automation to every aspect of their advisory services. This might sound counterintuitive at first. If automation simplifies client management, surely we should be applying it wherever possible to make our jobs easier and provide a better client experience?

Any automation processes that streamline repetitive or time-consuming activities like number crunching, risk assessment, client onboarding and compliance regulation will free up your capacity and allow you to take on more clients. The tricky aspect of this is figuring out at what point automative processes begin to hinder, instead of help, your client management practices.

As IFAs, we want to make our jobs as stress-free as possible, but relying too heavily on technology for every management process could cause the overall quality of your service to suffer, especially if there’s a data or validation error that’s managed to slip through the cracks.

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While automation can make client management an easier process, it must be stressed that time and due diligence are necessary for continued success.

It’s not enough to plug data into software and never take the time to assess the results or analytics feedback. On top of this, certain aspects of client management don’t lend itself particularly well to automation and algorithms, such as building trust with clients.

You Can’t Automate Relationships

Technology and digitisation have helped to transform the nature of wealth management, but some things will always be paramount when it comes to financial planning: the trust established between client and adviser.

The profession is based on trust which is leveraged through IFAs’ ability to see the bigger picture beyond the data and use it to impart carefully considered advice to each client.

Our clients indeed look for simplicity and convenience in our service, but they’re looking for depth, consideration and nuance when it comes to the advice we give. The fact that our clients reach out to us is a clear sign that they’re looking for personalised service – something that an app or platform can’t offer.

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Online investment platforms, also known as robo advisors, may work well for younger and first-time investors, but as investors age their net worth and life goals change and they’ll likely want the advice offered by an advisor who can take the nuances of their circumstances into account.

Using software or systems to automate client advice runs the risk of depersonalising the client experience and takes the all-important human touch out of the relationships you build with your clients.

This isn’t to say you can’t leverage automation within the process to speed it up or simplify it, but the advice you offer should be unique and come from your own understanding of the client and their short and long-term needs.


Ultimately, automation is meant to be an aid, not a substitution, for client management. How much automation you’d like to incorporate into your practice ultimately depends on your workload, your management strategy and your clients’ preferences.

Some clients will prefer to see automation in most areas of their relationship with their adviser, from communication to requests for documentation and meetings. Other clients may feel alienated and undervalued by too many automated processes, and place value on personal interaction with an adviser.

As IFAs, we should be exercising discretion when deciding how much automation to apply to each client profile. We should be automating our processes, not our relationships and we need to take a hands-on approach to ensure these automated procedures continually benefit the client experience. Automation is our best ally, we just need to use it with care.