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Digital advice will not replace face-to-face, NAB says

Despite new technology's role in financial advice, there will still be clients who distrust digital services and prefer to receive face-to-face advice, according to Greg Miller, NAB's executive general manager for wealth advice.

Speaking to ifa, Mr Miller said it is unlikely that digital advice will one day replace advisers since there will still be plenty of clients with complex financial situations.

"We don't see it replacing what an adviser does because advisers will predominantly work around a few things: those critical complex areas that clients have... [and] for those people who, irrespective of what's going one, won't trust a digital environment and will still want that face-to-face," he said.

"With the combination of all those things happening and the complexity in our lives these days, we think that a trusted face-to-face source is still going to be important today and still going to be important in the future."

ifa reported recently some advisers' reactions to NAB's upcoming computer-generated financial advice service, NAB Prosper.

Advisers expressed fears that the free service – to be rolled out to 40,000 NAB customers in early October – is the latest step in an industry-wide trend that will replace advisers with automated advice services.

However, according to Mr Miller, that will not be the case. Instead, the service is intended to spark the idea of financial advice in those NAB clients who are not currently seeking it, he said.


"NAB Prosper for us is a new way to get to those customers that haven't been seeking advice through our normal channels for the last few years we've been in the advice business," he said.

"We really thought that there was a whole lot of other customers out there could really do with the benefit of the education and information about financial advice. So our view was that our digital online approach would be a really good approach," he said.

The initial release of NAB Prosper will be able to connect customers with the advisers employed at NAB Financial Planning. However, Mr Miller expects to later expand those referrals to advisers within its broader advice network.

In addition, he predicts later releases of the service could be used by advisers for efficiency.

"We do see, over time, that there will be an opportunity for advisers to use this in conjunction with their customers. We're not at that stage yet and that will be part of our planning of how we take this forward," Mr Miller said.

"But we certainly see there will be opportunity for advisers. We think that there's no doubt that the combination of face-to-face advice, phone-based advice and digital advice – those things coming together to try and help all of the customers' needs – will be important."