Displaying items by tag: robo advisors
Barron’s has run a new piece warning advisors that they need to keep an eye on some new and growing financial data software that clients are increasingly using. The services, offered by new and old companies like eMoney, SigFig, and Betterment, focus on financial data aggregation, or letting consumers see their full financial picture in one place. The article warns that investors need to stay abreast of these kind of developments to know how to keep their services one step ahead and not let their business be eaten by commoditizing technologies.
FINSUM: The wealth management landscape is changing rapidly, and given how much tasks that used to be very time-consuming have been revolutionized, it should now be second nature for advisors to constantly look over their shoulder to discern how they can continue to add value.
While it is the first high profile closure of a robo advisor in recent memory, it feels like the start of a big change in the industry. This week, robo advisor Hedgeable announced it was closing its doors. The platform was a smaller rival to Betterment and Wealthfront and was founded by two former employees of Bridgewater Associates. The platform received a good deal of media coverage and tried to differentiate itself via a unique offering. However, it was unable to attract sufficient assets to keep operating. The $80m it had in client AUM will now be passed on to Folio.
FINSUM: All the VC money that was funding these robo advisors is going to start running out, which means a mass wave of consolidation is coming.
UBS has just launched its own robo advisor, which means that every wirehouse now has their own robo service. UBS’ new service caters to client with under $250,000 in their portfolio. The robo provides “risk assessment, online enrollment, regular monitoring for rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting functionality, and ongoing professional portfolio management aligned with UBS GWM CIO capital markets assumptions”. UBS joins Merrill Lynch’s robo launch a year ago, as well as Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley’s platforms.
FINSUM: After all the fear and anxiety, robo advisors seem to have found a comfortable niche alongside human advice.
Advisors look out. The big bang moment in wealth management might be about to happen. That moment might be when Amazon launches its own robo advisor, taking the concept to the masses in a way that has not been done before. Amazon is already getting involved in finance with its pursuit of checking accounts and ecommerce retailer Overstock.com is launching its own robo. One wealth management commentator put it this way, saying “Advisers have their head in the sand; they are in denial … Many think this won’t affect them or their clients … There were probably a large number of buggy manufacturers that were saying the same thing in 1910”. Amazon has a mountain of using data on people’s spending habits, which could give them a leg up.
FINSUM: It seems like only a matter of time before Amazon moves in this direction. There is still good margin to be had in this space, which makes it ripe for Amazon.
The big question mark for advisors is whether they will need to keep cutting their fees in an effort to make themselves competitive with robo advisors. Bolstering additional services is another way to defend fees, but getting credit for these is difficult. Therefore, advisors might want to adopt an approach Ron Carson, from the Carson Group, uses. That method is to send clients not only an investment performance report, but also a “relationship timeline”, which shows all the services you have provided them, such “as the sale of a business or the analysis of expected Social Security benefits”, but could also including helping find mortgages, assisting with travel etc.
FINSUM: People are always very price-oriented and it becomes very easy for clients to forget just how much an advisor does. This seems like a good way to highlight it.