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The risks for Coutts in launching a robo advice led service
04/02/2016 , Will Grahame-Clarke

Coutts' decision to offer a robo advice led service is not without risks for the brand. Robo advice offers convenience and affordability but is it true to what Coutts stands for with clients?

Emily Morris of Acanthus consulting said the widespread use of mobile was driving the change: “Coutts is an extremely strong brand and it will be very interesting to see what they do.

“Integrating Robo advice type functionality makes sense to supplement services and potentially to offer a lower entry point for certain client types or wider family members/NextGen. It helps brand loyalty and it also makes sense from a share of wallet point of view.”

Rebecca Robins, director, EMEA LatAm, Interbrand said Coutts should evolve to stay relevant.

“We're seeing examples of this in many shapes and forms across the wider 'luxury' landscape,” Ms Robins told thewealthnet. “Legacy brands are tapping into tech brands to increase awareness and connect with consumers. Tech brands are tapping into legacy brands for their heritage and exclusivity. Consider the Apple Watch Hermès cross-over.”

However, she said the reason for UHNW or HNW gravitation towards many of these brands is precisely the specialisation and unique service proposition of those brands. The short-term opportunities of diversifying or extending a business may be attractive, but when looking to extend or diversify, a risk assessment on the impact of the brand and indeed potential dilution of the brand over the long term is crucial to informing that decision.

“Levels of access to a brand is something that many luxury brands have been engaging with for years,” continued Ms Robins. “The questions is how an excellence brand preserves its core, while innovating and staying relevant for future generations to come.

“Hermès is a brand that has always represented excellence as a conviction (as opposed to 'luxury' as a convention). There is absolute clarity in what the brand stands for and consistency in how the brand is experienced. One of the top risers in Interbrand's 2015 Best Global Brands report with a 22 percent increase in brand value, Hermès has achieved a powerful balance between business growth and the protection of the brand’s integrity and desirability.”

Coutts already has a well developed app offering portfolio services, contact with advisers and transactional functions.

Ms Morris said use of mobile across all demographics was a driving force behind a move towards tech solutions but private banks need to be selective.

“Firms need to take the best elements and integrate them into their services otherwise they risk clients drifting away,” she said

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