HSBC is taking the bold step of offering online investment advice for thousands of its UK customers with small savings pots automatically, as it aims to join the growing ranks of consumer banks re-entering the market after a number of mis-selling scandals damaged their reputation.
The banks move into so-called “robo-advice” will include a personalised service, aimed at providing low-cost investment help online for those with savings less than £15,000, without putting undue pressure on the HSBC contact number. If successful, it could reignite HSBC’s dwindling consumer investment arm and help reassert the bank as a UK leader.
They aren’t alone though, as all of the UK’s high street banks are currently launching online advice sites having withdrawn from offering face-to-face-investment advice to small savers some time ago.
At the time, this meant that many savers without huge sums to invest were left without guidance, an issue that the Treasury flagged up in 2016, pointing to the number of people looking to invest but don’t have the required sums to access that advice from the banks.
Taylan Turan, the head of HSBC UK’s wealth management business said that the online service being launched by the company was aimed at providing fast and low-cost investment advice, specifically tailored to customers’ needs.
But how does that “tailored” investment advice get generated? Well, upon visiting the website, customers are asked questions regarding their financial circumstances, their goals and their debts which will feed into algorithms which will then recommend investments, from a range of risk-rated funds, holding shares, bonds or others.
HSBC have said that the advice given will draw from internal funds and from those managed by third parties. Mr Turan said: Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of “The entry point is going to be significantly lower than £15,000, so any customer with any kinds of savings, suitable to consider investments, can gain access to this advice.
“It’s personalised as two customers with the same amount of potential investments will not necessarily have the same recommendation, even if they have the same risk profile… we are one of the first to do this.”
Nevertheless, HSBC do intend to charge for this service, which may turn away the very lowest savers who are merely interested. They’re also remaining tight-lipped about the charges, merely saying that they’ll be transparent and competitive.
HSBC have also made clear that they won’t be dispensing with their 550-strong team of face-to-face financial advisors, who are deployed to help customers with savings of more than £50,000 on issues like tax, investing and pension planning. However, with advancements in machine learning and computerised customer service, we could see the £15,000 maximum lifted in order to save HSBC time and money.