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Nedgroup has developed an investment platform to interpret and assess individual input through algorithms to provide a customised investment plan. Picture: 123RF/LIMBI007
Nedgroup has developed an investment platform to interpret and assess individual input through algorithms to provide a customised investment plan. Picture: 123RF/LIMBI007

Terms such as "robo-advisers" or "robo-technology" have become buzzwords in the investment industry as more and more firms increase their spend on technology and digital services.

Picture: SUPPLIED/NEDBANK/BI INTELLIGENCE
Picture: SUPPLIED/NEDBANK/BI INTELLIGENCE

However, as digital platforms strive to improve decision-making based on complex algorithms, the human element is becoming a critical differentiator.

How much automation is enough; and how much is too much?

Success = expectations/reality

The success of a firm’s robo-technology depends on its ability to exceed clients’ expectations. It requires an “agile approach” in developing robo-technology so that clients are part of the journey throughout the development.

The “agile approach” is an ongoing process that includes user testing and continuous feedback. It provides deep insights into client preferences and ensures the continual improvement and enhancement of Nedgroup Investments' products and services. 

Preserving the human touch

While a fully automated and digital approach is efficient, clients often want human interaction or personal guidance, which is why Nedgroup Investments has incorporated a hybrid approach that blends technology with the human touch to provide an exceptional client experience.

Planning for retirement can be a daunting task and clients' needs may differ according to age, risk appetite, years left to retire, current investments, and savings goals. 

The challenge is to create technology that facilitates ease of use and allows clients to choose how they would like to be serviced – via a fully automated process or via a blended process where clients are walked through the steps.

Based on this objective, Nedgroup Investments' automated online investment platform, Extraordinary Life, was developed to guide clients on their pre- and post-retirement goals. The online investing platform has been recognised internationally for its groundbreaking technology and customer experience. It won the Banker Tech Project of the Year in the category for artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics and was nominated as a finalist in the global Gartner Awards for 2018.

The key characteristics and benefits of Nedgroup Investments robo-technology are:

1. Hybrid solution: high tech, high touch

The careful blend of technology with human touch offers clients the best of both worlds. It lets clients dictate how they would like to be serviced – through a complete automated process or by selecting the level of human interaction through Nedgroup's chatbot, ranging from an electronic virtual assistant to a one-on-one session with a human financial planner. It also ensures that the human interaction is focused on the areas where clients need help.

2. Efficiency and ease of use

The automated on-boarding technology requires no paperwork and includes electronic forms, FICA straight from home affairs, and electronic signatures. The technology is interactive and available 24 hours a day, which means clients can transact, view statements or chat at their convenience.

3. Accessibility

Clients can access the investment platform anywhere, anytime through their smartphones and computers. Investing really is on their terms.

4. Low-cost, diverse investment solution

The Nedgroup Investments Core funds, a rules-based (passive) fund range, provides clients with an award-winning performance track record (Morningstar Aggressive Allocation winner 2015 and runner-up in 2018).

A complete risk-profiled range, the Nedgroup Investments Core Guarded Fund (low risk), Nedgroup Investments Core Diversified Fund (medium risk) and Core Accelerated Fund (high risk) provide an ideal low-cost way to meet investors' needs.

These multi-asset funds provide complete diversification across asset classes by investing in cash, bonds, equities, property and offshore. The funds are Regulation 28 compliant, making them suitable for pension funds, provident funds and retirement funds.

5. Customised financial plans

Nedgroup understands that no two clients are alike. As a result, it has developed an investment platform to interpret and assess individual input through algorithms to provide a customised investment plan. Clients also benefit from updates to their plans based on any transactional activity.

6. Tax efficiency

The algorithms embedded into the investment platform consider not only the individual financial objectives of the investor, but also tax optimisation – ensuring clients get maximum value for their investments.

7. Complete transparency

Fees can make a big difference to an investment over time and Nedbank Investments' research has shown that investors are not always fully informed about the fees they are paying. Clients are often shown the annual management fee but not the complete costs including administration or transaction fees.

At Nedgroup Investments, clients are made aware of the total investment charges and have full access to their investment portfolios to see exactly what they are invested in at any given time.

So where to from here with robo-technology?

Robo-technology and AI have changed the way we do business and will continue to do so in future. These innovations will continue to drive progress.

As a socially conscious financial services provider, Nedgroup Investments embraces the role that smart technology and the human touch can play in providing investors with enhanced client experiences that encourage better savings and retirement outcomes.

Watch this space for further digital innovations.

Visit the Nedgroup Investments website for more information.

This article was paid for by Nedgroup Investments.