Chatbots won’t stop super funds needing human advisers

While making full use of member engagement data will inevitably involve the use of artificial intelligence (AI), superannuation funds need to remember that positive member advice offerings will still involve humans.

Speaking on robo-advice, AustralianSuper’s head of brand behaviour change, Mario Garrido this morning told delegates at the Conference of Major Superannuation Funds that funds needed to strike a balance between the efficiency that data-driven AI would enable and human interaction.

“Humans need to be in the advice channel … [because] robots cannot show empathy, robots cannot be creative in their approach to problem solving, and robots will never show the passion another human can when interacting with each other,” he said. “With AI … the value of human interaction will actually increase.”

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Garrido said that super funds could take a leaf from the books of industries that were striking this balance well, pointing to the hotel sector where automatic check-in processes sat alongside human staffing in service-heavy areas.

HESTA general manager, campaigns and customer growth, Georgie Obst, suggested that AI wouldn’t save as much money as many expected either: “I read a recent McKinsey study that found a lot of companies invested in chatbots but that it hadn’t driven down cost, [as] people were still calling call centres … so I think it’s about balancing [cost and efficiency] with what members want and what their plans are.”

Obst said that data and AI could assist in informing when members needed human advice, with HESTA’s advice team already getting direct leads through these means.

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