Midwinter offers digital advice tools

Midwinter will roll out a ‘digital advice framework' offering designed for mobile devices, but has rejected suggestions it will be a form of robo-advice and will actively engage both advisers and their clients.

Midwinter managing director, Julian Plummer, said the framework would offer self-service advice for current and potential clients of financial advisers across a number of typical needs and scenarios such as super contributions, savings plans, debt reduction and retirement funding.

Plummer said the framework would sit alongside face to face and phone based advice and could be escalated from digital delivery to adviser delivery by both the client and adviser depending on rules and conditions set by the adviser or their licensee.

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The framework would also create Statements of Advice (SOA) in line with licensee conditions and would allow implementation of strategies including investments, superannuation and life insurance from a digital advice.

He said while the framework was able to replicate aspects of the advice process users already had to be involved with an adviser and this placed ‘robo-advice' back in the greater advice process.

"It has placed ‘robo-advice' back into the context of advice and the advice process. Why not employ robo-advice in the process where it belongs?"

Midwinter Product Manager, Digital Advice, Halie Samson, said the framework was more than robo-advice and that term had become widely adopted but poorly defined and was used to describe things which were not advice.

"The term robo-advice is tagged to what many groups are doing which is the straight through processing of an investment portfolio regardless of whether it is used for savings for a specific goal or whether the client wants to invest," Samson.

"We want to branch out from that and state there is a ‘robot' developing the algorithms but there is no reason it can't implement a TTR strategy for instance, because it is only a deterministic rules that have been set. There is no reason that a robot can't do that, still calling it self-service advice because the tag robo-advice is a misnomer."

"We are doing something much broader and trying to encompass a lot of strategies at a simple level so there can be an escalation and can be collaboration with an adviser using the software," Samson said.

The five stage rollout will see Midwinter offer tools around simple super contributions, savings plans and insurance by the end of June, transitions to retirement, debt reduction and mortage/super optimisation by late August followed by retirement planning and defined benefits, and direct equities by late September. Estate planning and self managed super funds would be added by late October and November respectively.

Plummer said the incremental roll out was designed to give advisers tools to use immediately but would require advisers to have a base level subscription to Midwinter's cloud based Advice OS planning software. This was to allow the retention of client data which would be automatically entered into the framework for client use.

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