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Appetite for robo-advice grows but Brits still rely on high street branches

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Consumers are more prepared to use robo-advice for banking services but with monthly branch usage at its highest level since 2010, they still expect the human touch.

More than two thirds of UK consumers (68%) are prepared to use robo-advice to help them make complex banking decisions, such as the allocation of investments, the type of bank account to open and for retirement planning, according to research by Accenture.

The business and technology services firm conducted a global survey of 32,000 consumers and a quarter of UK individuals said the main attraction to robo-advice, an automated way for people to make financial decisions, was its impartiality. This figure rises to almost one third for those aged 65+, which is nearly double that of millennials.

Four out of 10 UK consumers said they turn to robo-advice for the speed and convenience of the service while just under a third believe it offers lower costs.

Accenture found that while the appetite for robo-advice is growing across Europe and the UK, over half (53%) of UK customers now regularly access their branch compared to 47% in 2010 which shows they still expect human advice and support. Surprisingly, Generation Z (aged 18-21) customers in the UK visit their branch more regularly than any other generation, with 25% visiting at least once per week.

As a result, retail banks need to strike a balance between robo and human service, Accenture said.

Peter Kirk, head of distribution and marketing services, said: “While consumers seem open to new forms of technology and advice and are seemingly more comfortable interacting with robots for certain types of financial services, their reliance on high street branches continues.

“Banks need to recognise that for many consumers including the younger generation, the shift towards computer-generated services cannot be at the expense of access to human service at their local bank. The demand for branches seems set to continue.

“There’s a clear message for high-street banks investing in this technology: retaining customers will depend on striking the right balance between human and robo service.”

Move towards more personalised services

The research found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of UK consumers are willing to share personal data with their bank in return for more benefits and personalised services.

Respondents were willing to share personal information, such as mortgage, credit card and student loan data, so their bank can offer personalised products and services. They also want banks to use their data to provide access to lower prices, faster service, more relevant advice, and personalised offers based on location.

Accenture said that a quarter of customers switched banking providers due to lack of personalised services; while one in five switched because of inappropriate products and service recommendations.

Kirk said: “Today’s consumers expect their banks to understand and anticipate their needs and offer tailored services that meet their demands.

“If banks are expecting their customers to share wider personal information, it is imperative that they provide more value-added services, and move away from the concept of being a purely transactional service provider.”

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