It was sad to hear about the end of the print edition of the Independent, but not a complete shock.
We can hold onto fond memories about the ways of the past. We can’t halt progress as the world around us evolves and new, hopefully better, ways of doing things take hold.
Looking back over the past few years, some of my own consumption habits reflect this pace of change, in all cases driven by technological innovation.
I used to buy paperback books. Since getting a Kindle for my birthday a couple of years ago, that habit has all but ended.
Of the 50 or so books I read each year, perhaps 4 or 5 of them are now printed. The rest are bought immediately on a whim and instantly downloaded to the e-reader which lives next to my bed.
I used to buy CDs. Now I download albums from iTunes and stream them via my MacBook, Apple TV or iPod in the car.
The beautifully crafted CD stand in our living room, made by a friend out of old public footpath posts and signs, no longer contains CDs, instead displaying some flowers and several girly ornaments chosen by my wife.
I used to watch television. Now I stream anything I want to watch through Netflix or Now TV on the Apple TV box sitting under the television.
Our TV set hasn’t been plugged into the aerial which sits on top of our house for the past two or three years. In fact, one of the jobs on my list for this summer is remove that and the neighbouring satellite dish from the house and see what scrap value they have, before the rest of the country catches up with the realisation these relics of entertainment are now redundant.
Looking back even a few years, who could have imagined that using an iPhone app to call an Uber would replace whistling for a black cab?
Would you have expected to stay in someone’s home using Airbnb rather than paying for a hotel room?
Could you have believed that your local Blockbuster would now be a charity shop?
So as we say goodbye to the Independent in its print form, and prepare to wave goodbye to most of the other printed newspapers in short order too, we need to think carefully and quickly about what all of this technological disruption means for Financial Planning.
I remain bullish that our target clients want a meaningful relationship with a real life Financial Planner; someone they can look at in the eyes as they discuss an investment recommendation, who can eat their chocolate biscuits as they share their dreams about the future.
No doubt our roles will be increasingly supported by technology, leaving the Financial Planner to deliver the valuable human interaction bits of advice instead of manually calculating fund switches and tax consequences.
And I’m probably completely wrong.
Sixteen years ago I wrote my University dissertation about business innovation in the connected economy.
Of course I had no idea back about the precise nature of the change we would experience in the world during that relatively short time. I was however informed by something Bill Gates once said about how we often overestimate how much technology will change in one year and underestimate how much it will change in ten years.
It would benefit all of us to invest some quality time in thinking about the future, what could change and how our roles as Financial Planners might look following another decade of technological change.
I can say with some confidence that the answer to all this upcoming change will not be a white labelled ‘roboadviser’.
As exciting as that might feel to advisers who launch these today, they are not the future. They are not even close to being the future.