We’ve all become used to seeing personalised adverts pop up while we’re online. These prompts use artificial intelligence (AI) to push products that they think we’ll be interested in – often with scarily accurate results.
But what if programmes like these were designed to get us to save rather than spend our money? Applying the latest technology to financial wellbeing products makes it easier for consumers to manage their money and access the best advice in a time-efficient way.
Let’s look at three ways that technology has influenced financial wellbeing benefits.
Financial wellbeing apps can create customised actions and financial strategies based on a person's cash flow, spending history and future cash income. Programmes can also help users stick to budgets or meet financial goals, or even offer predictive analytics around a person's finances.
By making information more relevant to an employee, they are much more likely to act on it. This will lead to better habits and decisions. For example, if a financial assistant helps an employee understand how much they need to save for retirement, and where they could make savings on their current expenditure, this insight could help them divert more money into their pension.
We’re used to seeing chatbots where users can ask basic questions and receive helpful information and guidance. Consumers can get answers to questions regardless of the day and time, and work on their finances late at night or on the weekends, rather than waiting until Monday morning to solve their issues.
Sometimes a consumer will begin a conversation with an AI chatbot which can answer simple questions immediately, but enquiries that are more complex need to be passed on to front-line colleagues. Using chatbots to triage enquiries means that in-person conversations are better quality and less repetitive – and ultimately more successful for the consumer.
Technology is transforming the speed and methods with which advice can be delivered. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated a shift towards digital banking, with more services available online and a rise in mobile banking in the UK. Customers want to be able to manage their finances from their smartphone and financial wellbeing benefits need to support this.
Where there are time and cost limitations to providing advice to all employees on a face-to-face basis, AI can deliver information to aid informed choices, with advisers stepping in to support those with more complex requirements. This is especially true when it comes to imparting targeted advice, making it affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.
Not so fast
A note of caution – we shouldn’t lose sight of the value of human connection. The challenge is that the range of people’s circumstances is wide and the long-term consequences of making financial decisions can be significant.
For instance, one of our partners provides debt solutions to get customers back in control of their finances. A significant proportion of their customers have extra vulnerabilities beyond debt, such as mental health, addiction, or age-related illnesses. What’s more, seeking advice for problem debt is highly emotive for many people and they may have been struggling in silence for years. In these circumstances, what’s needed is the personal touch – a sympathetic ear who will listen and give 1:1 support.
Digitalisation and AI can be useful; but ultimately they need to form part of a blended approach which also utilises human expertise and compassion.
Article published on REBA on 11th March 2021