It’s hard to imagine any other topic that would persuade Rishi Sunak and Elon Musk to stage a debate in front of rolling cameras and an audience of technology experts, yet that’s exactly what 12 months of political and press scrutiny into AI led to this month. For both the British Prime Minister and the man said to be the world’s richest person, it was an opportunity to be seen leading the conversation by discussing the benefits and the threats of AI. And it worked, generating extensive media coverage, particularly around Musk’s talk of “humanoid robots that can chase you anywhere”.
This convergence of humanity and technology provokes extremes of excitement and anxiety, and has done ever since the Industrial Revolution. But with AI, we’re experiencing a step change whereby reality is beginning to outstrip what many would have imagined possible just three or four years ago.
Of course, whenever change accelerates, it’s wise to take a step back and carefully think through what matters most. And I see this increasingly in my line of work. The growing potential of AI has led many to wonder where we should draw the line between humans and technology. And in the era of Consumer Duty, striking the right balance is critical to supporting vulnerable customers. It would be remiss not to seriously consider how to harness the value and opportunity AI presents to augment the toolkit used by staff to provide more tailored customer experiences.
Inflation may have slowed but the cost of living crisis isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. The price of food, fuel and energy remains high, as does the cost of borrowing. And every month, another tranche of mortgage holders topple off their fixed rate to be faced by a huge increase in their repayment sums. It will clearly be a tough Christmas for many, with families who are already struggling financially feeling pressure to ramp up their borrowing to pay for presents and festivities.
This is a concern for lenders, who are working harder than ever to comply with Consumer Duty obligations to identify and support vulnerable customers. At the same time, they’re under pressure to retain a competitive edge and continue to deliver best-in-class customer journeys. After all, vulnerable customers arguably more than other customers, require the lending process to be fast and frictionless. And yet all this must also be achieved by keeping costs under control and satisfying shareholders.
Fortunately, shareholders are increasingly aware of the governance and reputational issues around vulnerability. And while I’ve been focusing here primarily on financial vulnerability, there are of course many other forms including cognitive impairment, low resilience, low literacy/numeracy skills and those affected by life events – challenges that are often inter-connected with financial problems.
These are complex issues, and our expertise lies in helping our clients get that balance right, and encourage financial inclusion. At Lenvi, we’re very much at the forefront of platform technology in terms of tools for identifying, supporting and managing vulnerable customers, but our people also have immense experience in providing invaluable human support through our contact centre services.
If you’d like to discuss some of these important issues in more detail, please do get in touch. We’d be delighted to have a conversation.