Robo-advice only at its beginning: Financial Ask

Robo-advice is still far from realising its full potential, according to Andrew Lai, director of fintech start-up Financial Ask and founder of Fintech Melbourne.

Speaking to Money Management, Lai said the wealth industry was ripe for disruption, as the financial models currently being used by advisers were "not accurate" and unreliable.

"There's a lot of tall poppy syndrome in Australia, [we have] a lot of people who are happy with how things are and traditional ways of getting financial advice, but for Australia to move forward, we've got to change perceptions," Laid said.

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"I personally don't think financial advice is like health, it's different. You don't need the same face-to-face interaction that you have with a doctor."

Lai said that despite the promising signs of the rapid growth of fintech in Australia and with financial services being Australia's "number one industry", there still remains significant room for improvement, especially in terms of lowering the barriers to entry for accessing financial advice.

Last month, in a joint venture with accounting and financial advisory group Findex, Lai's Financial Ask launched online platform, ASK Crowe Horwath, with the aim of providing the public with an easy point of access to professional and expert opinion.

Lai said the key secret to providing financial advice is that it is "not a mass product" and cautioned against the increasing growth of algorithmic investment solutions, which can be used to identify the risk appetite of customers but do not necessarily provide them with genuine advice.

"The reality is, a lot of the robo-advice you see these days is a farce. Often it works like a managed fund [instead] of providing genuine advice," Lai said.

"I do not think that genuine robo-advice will come about for at least another 10 years."

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