Site Logo
Site Logo

Robos invade high street banks

By Mike Narouei, Content Producer at Boring Money

2 June, 2017

The FT reported yesterday that HSBC is the latest bank to join the so-called robo advisers, with plans to offer online digital investment solutions to customers with relatively low balances. It’s a logical next step as quite literally millions of people in cash look at the continued low interest rates available and wonder what Plan B is.

Yes robo advice is gathering pace and according to our research, now has circa £1.1 billion of Brits’ assets under management. Nutmeg (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/isas-pensions/nutmeg/) has a market share of about 81% today and you can see what we make of the main providers (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/isas-pensions/).

The question of man versus machine is accelerating. This week my 7-year-old made an aside comment about “when the robots have all of our jobs” which startled me. We’re not there yet in finance and anyone seeking real, old-fashioned, personalised advice is still better off looking for a human. See what people near you have to say about which local advisers are any good (use

Boring Money's adviser directory
). The online models don’t do much more than spit out a Blue Peter “here’s one I made earlier” portfolio at you, and won’t solve your tax or planning questions.

As the debate continues to rage, I thought I’d share what I think is one of the maddest things I’ve seen. The world’s first robotic psychiatrist – naturally, from the USA. Dr Joanne Pranksy is a shrink for robots. Her video (http://www.robot.md/) is worth a watch if you’re feeling like the world around us in the UK has gone mad! Everything is relative……I promise the video will either make you laugh, reach for a glass of wine or want to retire to a dark room!

HSBC isn’t alone amongst the banks with their robo advice offering. Santander (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/isas-pensions/santander-digital-adviser/) has made very tentative steps towards robo advice with a relatively new offering called Investment Hub (http://www.santander.co.uk/uk/investments/investing-without-advice). The big plus is that Santander customers can see this on the same screen as online banking with the same log-in. The downside is that it’s super dry and doesn’t really engage or inform. Still it’s a fairly simple journey if you can get over the awfully dull bank-compliance-speak and will suit those who want convenience and don’t care about reams of investment choice.

Finally, of all the banks today, Barclays (http://www.barclays.co.uk/investments/) offers the best investment service for its banking customers IMHO. If you’ve a current account there, have a squizz at what they have in the Investments space. Will suit the more confident investor but the fees are pretty competitive.