Automation is coming to the professional advisers sector which needs to be thinking now about branding in order to counter agile competitors who are beginning to leverage tech to cherry-pick high-value services.

In a WARC Best Practice paper, How B2B and professional services brands can weather disruption, Peter Matthews, founder of the Nucleus consultancy, envisages a not-too-distant future where machine learning and AI will supersede the dated business models operated by accountants, lawyers and bankers.

An example: in 2018, a legal AI platform ran a competition in consultation with law professors from Stanford University, Duke University School of Law and University of Southern California, where they pitted 20 experienced human lawyers against an AI system trained to evaluate legal contracts.

They all read a series of non-disclosure agreements with deliberate loopholes included. The results showed the humans achieved an accuracy rate of 85% and the AI 95%. The humans took an average of 92 minutes to complete the task, the AI 26 seconds.

In this environment, professional services will have little option but to re-shape their offerings and transform their business models – and brand will be at the heart of that process, says Matthews.

“By deconstructing their brands, and redefining what makes them truly unique, existing professional service brands can compete with new entrants and articulate their purpose and relevance in today’s fast-changing landscape.”

Generic values will no longer be enough, he adds, brands will have to be “bold, ambitious and challenging”.

But that’s only the start: a well-defined brand proposition then needs to be turned into a consistent and engaging brand experience across all touchpoints, including the increasingly important UX of websites and apps, he advises.

The professional services sector, by its very nature, tends to be risk-averse, Matthews acknowledges, but, he argues, the biggest risk in the current climate of transformational change is doing nothing .

“By recognising the key disruptive factors and re-positioning professional services businesses with the right technologies, professional advisory firms can focus on what they do best: guide and advise their clients through changing times.”

Sourced from WARC