Digital Advice

Opportunities and threats of financial online advice and online information.

Due to the complexity of financial decision making, customers generally require a high level of information regarding their own economic and financial situation in the present and the future as well as a potential solution of the financial decision. Caused by this high level of required information and their few savings, the majority of the customers should be reliant on high quality exploration, explanation and advice. In this context, high quality primarily means receiving the right information with respect to the available knowledge and experiences (competences) as well as the individual needs in a specific situation. In the field, customers regularly suffer from information and choice overload.

In the context of self-exploration and self-explanation, providing the necessary information via an appropriate channel in a solution-orientated and target group focused way is an essential advantage of digital advice. Self-exploration and self-explanation partly replace the “how” (know your customer) and sometimes even the “what” (know your product) of stationary financial advice the so called analog financial advice. Besides that, analog advice has already been digitalized, starting with collecting personal data in the advisor’s desktop PC or notebook followed by the electronic transmission of product information up to the standardized advice according to algorithms. The deep intersection of the digitalization with analog processes enables also non-financials or innovative start-ups, so called FinTechs (Financial Services & Technology), to establish their core business segments in the value chain of financial advice.

Thereby, different types of digital advice systems can be identified as business models (B2C, business-to-consumer), including automated asset management, advisor backed asset management, social trading, and (product-specific) online comparison portals. By now, the boundaries between stationary advice systems and different forms of digital advice are vanishing due to the few forms of access and the limited number of process elements (exploration, explanation, advice). At the moment, most of the attention is paid to the information components (exploration, explanation), transactions’ price-reduction and -acceleration, as well as aspects of account management. The persistence of stationary elements and their deep intersection with digital offers could prove beneficial for customers who are searching for information and advice. The premise is that it seems attractive to customers to facilitate multiple possible applications with a few instruments in the sense of an omni-channel flexibility.

The various forms and business models of digital financial advice show that – even in the presence of a (partly) self-exploration and/or self-explanation – an advice is provided in parts. However, this advice should – even if sometimes rudimentary and standardized – fit to the customers’ active or passive reported data regarding their situation, goals and occasions. Insofar, the legal framework should be applicable on digital financial advice, yet not in the current fragmented and overregulated way but rather – for both analogous and digital forms – in a systematic, structured, standardized, and comparable kind.

Digital financial advice including self-exploration, self-explanation and modular, standardized recommendation basically shows potential, especially in popularizing personal finances, encouraging customers to deal with the own finances or to pre-inform and compare information and recommendations with respect to substantial financial decisions.

Issues like security and data privacy should be handled with the highest priority to obtain, maintain, and enhance customers’ confidence. Customers often willfully or unintentionally produce personal data which could be - and actually is - exploited by third parties, for example the owners of suppliers’ business models or decision makers of governmental institutions. These personal data often have an institutional, social and/or economic value that all economic actors, including customers, should individually or collectively be able to negotiate with. From the customers’ point of view it is crucial how simple, comprehensible and clear they can recognize that they pay for the services with their own personal data. In case of refusing the payment with personal data, it seems furthermore essential if there are alternatives except for not using the service anymore. This also includes a simple, clear and understandable labeling to what extent personal data will be used for direct or indirect personal, geographical, and technology-dependent price differentiation. This similarly concerns the labeling regarding the (IT-)security including the declaration of the expected and mandatory participation of the payers or of the persons who look for information or advice.

The area of finance can be seen as prototypical for the proceeding digitalization of service providers’ business models, whose products immediately and existentially affect or indirectly have to do with most customers’ basic and further needs. With a time lag these developments can be observed in trading and, together with well comparable structural changes, in the near past in the health and mobility sector.

Some important questions require further discussion, e.g.:

Which consequences will further self-exploration, self-explanation, and self-advice have on the increasingly stressed time budgets of the customers?

Does the increasing time restriction in an increasingly self-reliant analogous and digital world lead to a different risk-return-allocation?

E.g., that customers have to determine, acquire and understand more and more essential information in self-responsibility? And that they have to bear a higher amount of the respective negative consequences by themselves, especially with respect to the costs associated with material goods and provided services with the characteristics of a confidence component (reduction of suppliers’ responsibility)?

Selected publications

Riskante Schwärmerei, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 9.7.2018

Risikoreiche schöne neue Anlegerwelt, Focus-Money, 27.6.2018

Oehler, A., 2018, Infos für den Schwarm: Werden Crowdinvesting-Kleinanleger mit VIBs gut informiert? Eine empirische Untersuchung, im Auftrag des MLR Ministerium für Ländlichen Raum und Verbraucherschutz (MLR) Baden Württemberg, Bamberg/Stuttgart

Oehler, A., Horn, M., 2018, Zur ungleichen ökonomischen Verteilung bei der Datennutzung oder: keine soziale Marktwirtschaft in der digitalen Welt!, Wirtschaftsdienst 98, Juli, 469-472

Oehler, A., Horn, M., Wendt, S., 2018, Mehr als „nur“ Crowdfunding: Wie die Digitalisierung Prozesse der Mittelstandsfinanzierung verändert, Corporate Finance 9, Heft 1-2, 3-7

Crowdinvesting: Top oder Flop, Finanztest, 24.5.2018

Versteckte Fallen für Schwärmer, immobilien report, 9.5.2018

Crowdinvesting ist für Kleinanleger sehr gefährlich, FAZ, 4.4.2018

Digitale Verwalter, analoge Probleme, Handelsblatt, 16.2.2018

Oehler, A., Horn, M., Wendt, S., 2018, Neue Geschäftsmodelle durch Digitalisierung? Eine Analyse aktueller Entwicklungen bei Finanzdienstleistungen; in: Keuper, F. et al. (Hrsg.), Disruption and Transformation Management, Springer, Wiesbaden, 325-341

Oehler, A., 2018, Infos für den Schwarm: Werden Crowdinvesting-Kleinanleger mit VIBs gut informiert? Eine empirische Untersuchung, im Auftrag der zeppelin universität – Forschungszentrum Verbraucher, Markt und Politik | CCMP und des MLR Ministerium für Ländlichen Raum und Verbraucherschutz (MLR) Baden Württemberg, Bamberg/Stuttgart.

Oehler, A., 2017, Grundsätze ordnungsgemäßer Bewertung durch Scoring; Wirtschaftsdienst, Oktober 2017, 748-751

Oehler, A., 2017, Der technologische Wandel: Herausforderungen in der Digitalen Welt; in: Kenning, P., Oehler, A., Reisch, L., Grugel, C. (Hrsg.) Verbraucherwissenschaften – Rahmenbedingungen, Forschungsfelder und Institutionen, Springer, Wiesbaden, 69-80

Interoperabilität, Datenportabilität, Datenverwertung/VG Daten/Wirtschaftsdienst:

Oehler, A., 2016, Digitale Welt und Finanzen. Formen des Crowdfunding: Handlungsbedarf für die Verbraucherpolitik? Veröffentlichungen des Sachverständigenrats für Verbraucherfragen, Berlin 2016.(90.1 KB)

Pressemitteilung vom 7.7.2016

Handelsblatt vom 11.7.2017

Global edition Handelsblatt vom 13.7.2016

Interview mit


Oehler, A., Horn, M., Wendt, S., 2016, Nicht-professionelle Investoren entdecken die digitale Welt; bankmagazin, Januar 2017, 26-29

Oehler, A., 2016, Chancen der selbstbestimmten Datennutzung?!; Wirtschaftsdienst, November 2016, 830-832

Oehler, A., Horn, M., Wendt, S., 2016, Nicht-professionelle Investoren in der digitalen Welt; Wirtschaftsdienst, September 2016, 640-644

Oehler, A., 2016, Auch der “Schwarm” braucht klare Regeln; Euro am Sonntag, 6.8.2016, 76-77

Oehler, A., Horn, M., Wendt, S., 2016, Benefits from social trading? Empirical evidence for certificates on wikifolios; 30th Annual Meeting of The Academy of Financial Services, Las Vegas, October 20-21, 2016; Research in Behavioral Finance Conference 2016, Amsterdam, September 15-16; International Review of Financial Analysis 46, 202-210

Oehler, A., Horn, M., Wendt, S., 2016, Was taugt die Finanzberatung durch Robo-Advisors wirklich?, Der Neue Finanzberater 2016, 2, 28-29

Oehler, A., 2016, Digitale Finanzberatung braucht standardisierte Produktinformationen, Der Neue Finanzberater 2016, 1, 15

Oehler, A., Horn, M., Wendt, S., 2016, Digitale Zahlungsdienste: Chinese Walls 2.0 oder Trennung?, DIVSI Magazin, Oktober , 23-25

Oehler, A., 2016, Upgrade notwendig? Finanzieller Verbraucherschutz in einer digitalisierten Welt - Einführung und Überblick, Fachgespräch, Deutscher Bundestag, Fraktion Die Grünen, Berlin, 22. Februar 2016

Oehler, A., 2015, Alles digital? Innovative Geschäftsmodelle im digitalen Zahlungsverkehr und Verbraucherpolitik; in: Wirtschaftsdienst, Dezember 2015, 817-821

Oehler, A., 2015, Digitale Welt und Finanzen. Zahlungsdienste und Finanzberatung unter einer Digitalen Agenda, Veröffentlichungen des Sachverständigenrats für Verbraucherfragen, Berlin.
Ergebnisse und Handlungsempfehlungen(70.7 KB)
Langfassung mit Executive Summary(580.4 KB) 
Kurze Zusammenfassung(76.6 KB) 
Pressemitteilung vom 19.1.2016
(114.1 KB)
Oehler, A., 2015, Beratung digital? Chancen und Risiken der Online-Beratung, Bamberg.

Oehler, A., Stellpflug, J., 2015, Daseinsvorsorge in der Digitalen Welt: Der Staat für alle oder jeder für sich?, Stellungnahme der Verbraucherkommission Baden-Württemberg, Nr. 41, Stuttgart.

Oehler, A., Höfer, A., Wendt, S., 2011, Von Konsumenten & Anbietern. Herausforderungen der Verbraucherpolitik im digitalen Zeitalter, in: uni.vers Forschung, Mai, 28-31.

Micklitz, H.-W., Oehler, A., 2006, Verbraucherpolitik in der digitalen Welt, Stellungnahme des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats Verbraucher- und Ernährungspolitik beim BMELV, Berlin.