Robo advisory programs currently have $16 billion in assets but that’s expected to skyrocket to $255 billion by 2019. Should advisors ignore the Robo Advisor like they did with the no-help/no-load companies or shall they take a stance, be proactive and find more ways to retain the clients and assets they’ve worked so diligently for? Or, do they find a way to partner with the robo advisors and charge an advisory fee like they have with ETFs and no-load funds? The advisor has many options but they should have a clear understanding of the robo advisory programs, because it appears that this could be another tool to help their clients and themselves. Who is their target market? What are the fees? What are their strengths and drawbacks? How many companies are involved in robo advising? What should advisors learn so they can speak intelligently to their clients about it
Younger investors from Gens X and Y, as studies have shown, prefer to stalk information online rather than meet people face to face. That makes this demographic, and all the wealth it is set to earn and inherit, a natural target for this kind of online service. Adam Nash, the CEO of Wealthfront, a major player in the online advisory world, was quoted in Financial Advisor (FA) magazine in 2014. “We’ve discovered over the last few years that this solution is immensely popular with young people,” he says. “Over 50% of our clients are under 35 and 85% are under 50. This is a generation that has grown up with computers. They know what software is good for and what it’s not good for.” For financial advisors that want to help their clients’ children and grandchildren, robo advisory services could be a big help. It’s a win-win for young adults with smaller accounts and advisors that want to work with the entire family.
“This is the biggest thing that’s happening in this world,” says Bill Harris, the CEO of Personal Capital, about the onslaught of online investment management sites into the advisory space. “This is just the evolution of the business. Everybody will be doing this five to 10 years from now.” He says his firm’s sweet spot is people with complex financial lives—not people in their 20s still renting apartments, but people with mortgages, 529s and investable assets of a couple hundred thousand to several million. “Why? Because that’s the forgotten middle. That is the underserved or even unserved,” Harris says. “It’s also the biggest portion of the investing public. By Harris’ estimate, there is $32 trillion in investable assets in this country and 33% to 40% of that is in this forgotten middle. This is a huge opportunity for advisors and especially younger advisors as more of the senior advisors are retiring.
The financial services industry is as competitive as ever and the quest for new clients and more assets is an ongoing threat from the competition of many advisors in the industry. But for the proactive advisors, there are many ways for advisors to strengthen the relationship with their current book of business that makes it nearly impossible for anyone or anything to steal their clients. But it will take extra effort, a crystal clear message that explains the value that the advisor brings to the relationship, a laser-beam focus and more than just an attitude of gratitude, although that certainly goes a long way.
I have a brand new Keynote presentation to share with financial advisors and to prepare them for capturing many of the assets that may go directly to Schwab, Vanguard or some of the other programs attracting millions of dollars. While it’s true that not every investor wants a personal relationship with an advisor, there are still many that do. Are you ready ?
If you would like a few ideas to gain more of these assets, send an email to Neil@neilbwood.com All the Best!