Had enough of algorithms?

Had enough of algorithms?

The school exams fiasco north and south of the border has demonstrated the folly of placing too much faith in an algorithm. Paul Hayward explains why similar problems are rife in mainstream banking, and why Hampden & Co remains a champion of proper conversations and getting to know our clients properly.

Paul Hayward, Banking Director
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There’s no escape from the word ‘algorithm’ this month. It’s appearing centre-stage in the media – and not in a flattering light. The formulas used to adjust exam results have prompted dramatic U-turns from both the Scottish and UK Governments and, for a generation of schoolchildren, algorithms are now a tainted concept.

Yet they’re also ubiquitous – people interact with them every day, from Google search and weather forecasts to the way Amazon prices its products and many banks make lending decisions. However, algorithms don’t feature in our approach, and that’s one of the many things that set us apart from mainstream lenders.

High street banks love algorithms. They simplify their processes and save them money. Applications for accounts, loans and mortgages become tick-box processes that require minimal human interaction. But what’s great for the banks isn’t necessarily great for their customers. Time and time again we’ve seen the frustration of clients who fail to secure loans or mortgages from mainstream lenders because they ‘don’t fit the algorithm’. They may be relatively affluent people with valuable assets, but if they have complex finances, unconventional income streams or are flagged up as being ‘too old’, they will be turned away.

At Hampden & Co, we don’t rely on algorithms. We have proper conversations with our clients. We get to understand their finances and personal circumstances in full and help them if we can. A number of banks reined back their services during lockdown and turned away new clients. We did the opposite. We believe this is a time when clients need the personal attention of an expert banker. That’s why we’ve welcomed many new clients this year.

So, if you or any of your clients are reeling from algorithm angst and bad experiences with your bank, you can trust us to have a proper conversation. Do let us know if we can do anything to help.

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Paul Hayward, Banking Director