Claims immediately followed that this meant the end for checkout workers – technology was taking over. The machines had won. And so on and so on.
As it was, of course, that wasn’t actually the case. Self-checkouts have proved generally successful – albeit often annoying – but supermarket staff are still needed.
Indeed, most supermarkets have kept staff-manned tills despite introducing self-checkouts. In short, customers have been given a choice and for the most part everybody’s happy.
This issue of technology taking over is one that has been encroaching upon the financial services world for some time.
The industry faces a conundrum. It needs to embrace technology to give consumers more choice and efficiency – just as the supermarket sector had too – but it fears the impact on human interaction.
Indeed, mortgage brokers and financial advisers are worried that a rise in the use of technology will diminish their value.
But I think brokers are missing the point.
Technology should not replace the relationships they have with their clients but rather enhance it.
Let’s be clear, a consumer may be comfortable buying a pint of milk and a loaf of bread without the guidance of a human at the checkout, but paying several hundred thousand pounds for an asset that they’ll be paying back for decades is a little more serious.
As such, I very much doubt we’ll see the day when advisers are obsolete and replaced by computers.
While the consumer may get the end result benefits, increased technology in financial services is actually there for the benefit of the adviser.
It exists to make your life easier.
Developers are creating new systems to help make the sale of financial products easier, the underwriting slicker and the necessary data more easily accessible.
The consumer just wants their dream home. It is our job to get them there and technology can make that job much more straightforward.
Brokers who have yet to embrace technology must stop seeing it as the enemy and view it more as an asset, a colleague, a collaborator.
Consumers want fast results and you want to be able to meet their needs without falling foul of the regulator.
Enlisting the help of technology will help you to do just that. And, even more good news, the systems and features being created in our sector are far more advanced than those pesky supermarket checkouts.