NatWest is offering consumers an investment advice service automated through software.
The use of robo-advisors, as services like this are known, has already replaced people at the bank. In 2017, The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which owns NatWest, said automated financial advice services led to a 220-employee reduction in its face-to-face adviser roles.
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Through NatWest Invest, an online platform, customers will be able to make investments worth as little as a £500 lump sum with ongoing monthly payments.
Customers using the service will be asked about their aims as well as their attitude to risk and will be given automatic advice based on this through the platform. It will advise customers on things like the amount they should invest, which funds are right for them and how to use their ISA allowance.
They will be able to track their investments 24 hours a day, and the charging system has been simplified with a £10 charge for advice and a personalised report for those who choose to invest.
Phil Northey, managing director of premier banking at NatWest, customer expectations are changing and they are increasingly choosing to bank digitally. “We have responded by launching an online investment advice service. This will help our customers get on in their lives and achieve their financial goals.”
There’s no minimum term a customer needs to hold the investment for, but it is aimed at customers that want to leave the money for at least five years. There are five different funds, ranging from low to high risk.
Read more about automation in banking
- In another instance of banks adopting automation to lower costs and drive productivity, HSBC uses IBM analytics technology to cut down on its paper trail.
- Sweden’s SEB bank became the first bank to use IPsoft’s cognitive technology for customer services after the software robot proved successful in an internal IT service desk project.
- Finance firms must keep a close eye on artificial intelligence, according to the Financial Stability Board, an international body that supports financial services regulators.
One IT professional in the banking sector said automating investment advice for small investors makes sense because “advisors are just given a script when advising anyway”.
“It is a good way for the bank to cut costs by automating advise to low net worth investors.”
Automated customer services are widely used in the banking industry, but using robots to automate investment decisions is a burgeoning trend.
For example, John Cryan, CEO of Deutsche Bank, recently said a “big number of staff will eventually be replaced by robots” as the bank looks towards artificial intelligence technology.
And a recent report from financial services management consultancy Opimas predicted that in 2017, discounting acquisitions of startups, finance firms in the investment sector would spend $1.5bn on robotic process automation, machine learning, deep learning and cognitive analytics, increasing by 75% to $2.8bn in 2021.