With more than 80 per cent of Australian homes unadvised and with the need for advice bigger than ever before, it’s a great step forward.

From a technology point of view, however, we wouldn't recommend other banks follow suit in developing their own platform.

The cost and speed to market are far too prohibitive.

This is especially the case as an alternative exists. There are now platforms that enable enterprises to launch this capability to their customers on a SaaS basis.

In the case of NAB and other well-known financial services enterprises promoting offers of free advice, a key differentiator is the ability to actually execute the advice.

Most offer tools and pretty graphs, but the proof comes in being able to enact the advice without having to revert to the traditional model of face-to-face advice.

Consumers expect a similar customer experience from financial services to the experience they have in other areas of their life, from booking an Uber to buying an airfare.

Imagine being about to see the location of an Uber online without actually being able to book it, or reviewing flights online and having to go into a travel agent to book it.

The days of generating advice online and not being able to execute are surely nearly over too.

So what are the factors for success? Here are the top 10 factors for success for robo-advice.

1. Trusted brand

Consumers need to trust any provider of financial advice in order to engage and take up the advice.

2. It’s free!

If consumers have bought or have agreed to buy the product associated with the advice, then they expect the advice itself to be free.

3. Assurance and reassurance

Even though the advice is generated by a computer, consumers need to feel reassured they can hold the organisation to account for the quality and appropriateness of the advice. If they feel something is not right, they won't start in the first place.

4. Expert validation

Consumers don't go online with the expectation that they will require human assistance, but if the transaction is material then there is every expectation that a suitably qualified individual will be available instantly or that they can speak to someone to validate it.

5. Starting position

Advice won’t be trusted, let alone acted upon, if the foundation on which the advice is based is not accurate and up to date.

Consumers know the information about their current accounts is on computers, so they expect computers to talk to one another.

Hence the consumer’s information should be uploaded automatically at the starting position and refreshed real time. 

6. Execute the advice

Consumers are drawing from what is normal and expected in other industries or what’s common sense.

Having engaged advice online, the ability to act on that advice in the same instance is expected by consumers.

The industry is awash with online personal financial management tools that provide advice but it can’t be implemented.

This isn't only inefficient, but also opens margin for error as consumers are open to making mistakes in translating their advice into actions (and opens enterprise to leakage as consumers fail to execute the advice they receive). 

7. Multiple needs, rolled into one

The world of finance may be broken up into major segments like insurance, retirement, savings and debt, but to consumers it’s all part of the same topic.

They expect (online) advice to take them all into account.

8. Simple display of benefits

There’s an easy temptation to display too much information to consumers based on the plethora of data/information available.

Less is more to avoid confusion. Displaying the dollar value and key implications of the advice is all that consumers want to see highlighted.

9. Transparent and justified

Consumer knows they can’t hope to understand how a computer does its calculations, but they need to feel comfortable they understand what the computer is trying to do for them to engage and act.

Being able to generate the basis for any calculation is just as important as the actual advice generation itself.

10. Ongoing tracking

When it comes to financial advice, 'after-sales service' is critical. This means being able to use the same login and facility to be able to keep reporting on the progress and impact of the advice given.

In addition to the ongoing aggregated balance of accounts, consumers want to understand what the impact of any forseen or unforseen changes has on the objectives that drove the advice in the first place.

Carolyn Colley is the chief executive of Decimal Software and a former Macquarie Bank executive.

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