Looking into the future for financial advice tech


Richard Holmes, Chief Information Officer, Westpac

The role of the financial adviser will always be paramount in the client relationship. But over time, we expect the technology that underpins platforms will evolve to provide even more support to advisers so they can help more clients in more ways.

Our aim is for platforms to make advisers’ lives, and the advice process, even easier. So here’s our vision for some of the features advisers will likely be able to access through platforms in the future.

Integration will only increase

The evolution of financial advice platforms can be likened to what we've seen with smart phones, we see the functionality and interconnectedness of technology such as BT Panorama with other digital tools growing over time.

Let me explain. Initially, smartphones were predominantly just for phone calls, text messages and emails. But over time, we’ve been able to access an incredible array of services through these devices.

At the moment, financial advice platforms are like an early iteration of a smartphone. Right now, we're a central access point for a broad range of investment options, reporting and research. But eventually, platforms could be a solution for the technological complexity with which advisers are increasingly likely to grapple.

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Ideally, platforms will evolve so they have the ability to offer advisers solutions from other software providers in the financial services industry. For instance, we could provide a secure, trusted e-Doc solution that seamlessly integrates into our platform. They could also be a portal through which advisers offer digital advice, in combination with the expertise and strategies they provide to clients. Different reporting solutions and client interfaces could be offered to particular client segments, designed with their unique needs in mind.

The evolving role of the platform

As technology becomes more sophisticated, our role as the platform provider may change to also be a curatorial one. We may be able to integrate different apps into our platform ecosystem and make recommendations to advisers about a range of solutions to suit clients’ requirements.

If these recommendations are accepted they may be integrated back into the client’s financial plan or asset base. The idea being that platforms become an ecosystem of trusted, secure software solutions.

The data generated through this process may then assist platforms to be able to deliver important insights to advisers to help them offer the best possible service and guidance to their clients.

Another potential advantage the evolution of platforms can deliver is better ways for advice firms to collaborate. We envisage they may become a space where advisers can learn from each other and connect, drawing on the de-identified data at our fingertips, to develop their knowledge and deliver best practice outcomes for their clients.

Eye to the future

We get a lot of questions about the role artificial intelligence (AI) may play in platforms in the future.

From a compliance perspective, we already use AI to enhance security. Every single interaction within our system already passes through a cybersecurity centre. We overlay AI on top of that, looking for patterns that may indicate potential cyber breaches elsewhere, or that appear to be unusual. This functionality will likely be expanded in the future, not only as cybersecurity becomes an increasing concern but also in other areas.

Additionally, it’s likely AI will enhance the digital experience for advisers and help personalise the investor journey. Already, we use AI-powered chat bots in our call centre. They are constantly learning as they deal with queries, taking into account whether a response deals with an adviser query or how an answer may need to be tweaked to be improved.

As platforms evolve, we expect AI-powered robo-advice to play a role in many different situations. For instance, an adviser enabled tool could proactively nudge when a client’s portfolio interaction changes ie they check their balance more than five times in a month. The platform may suggest the adviser make contact with their client with a market and portfolio update. The question is how to ensure these tech tools still provide really high quality outcomes for clients across many different scenarios, and how they empower the adviser-client relationship.

Over the next decade, AI and robotics are expected to create opportunities to transform the way financial advice is delivered through platforms on many levels. We don’t know exactly how technology will evolve and how we will incorporate innovations into what we do, and how advisers will use different tools. But we are confident it will lead to better outcomes for advisers and their clients over time. When our smartphones only dealt with phone calls, texts, and emails, we thought they were “complete”. Platforms are poised for a similar journey as they evolve.

In October 2022, BT hosted ten successful financial advisers on a study tour of the United States. The 2022 BT USA Study Tour revealed many insights into financial planning in the US and Australia, as they met with senior leaders of the US industry and compared notes.
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This document has been created by Westpac Financial Services Limited (ABN 20 000 241 127, AFSL 233716). It provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Projections given above are predicative in character. Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the assumptions on which the projections are based are reasonable, the projections may be based on incorrect assumptions or may not consider known or unknown risks and uncertainties. The results ultimately achieved may differ materially from these projections. This document may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, Westpac Financial Services Limited does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, Westpac Financial Services Limited intends by this notice to exclude liability for this material. Information current as at 10 December 2021. © Westpac Financial Services Limited 2021.