Advisors ready to embrace ‘robo’ counterparts News added by Benefits Pro on June 3, 2014
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By Lisa Barron

Contrary to popular belief, most broker-dealer and registered investment advisors do not think that online financial guidance services will replace traditional face-to-face advice, according to a Fidelity Institutional poll.

The survey, taken at the company’s annual Executive Forum client conference, found that nearly three-quarters, 74 percent, of respondents see the emergence of “robo-advisors” as a positive trend and that most, 54 percent, felt these digital advisors, in fact, cannot replace the human element of advice.

With two-thirds of “mass affluent” investors preferring a personal relationship with an advisor, Fidelity said, firms have the chance to blend the best practices of the digital model and the human touch to get ready for the next generation of investors.

“Imagine the impact digital advisors will have if firms are able to reinforce the value of the human element with the technological solutions these models offer,” said Michael Durbin, president, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services. “This formula has the potential to be what the industry needs to support a broader segment of mass affluent investors efficiently and with scale.”

Education is the first step, according to Sanjiv Mirchandani, president, National Financial, a Fidelity Investments company.

“Overall awareness of digital advice solutions is low right now, with our poll showing that only 13 percent of executives are feeling very informed about the models,” he said. “Firm leaders should evaluate the wide range of new models emerging and identify which elements may be useful to embed into their advisors’ practices.”

The survey found that many executives are already incorporating some of the digital advisor best practices and solutions into their businesses.

Fifty-two percent reported they are using technology to drive collaboration and ease of doing business; 46 percent said they are using lower cost investments in portfolios; and 22 percent are offering do-it-yourself tools for goal planning, asset allocation and more.

Robo advisors include firms such as Betterment, Wealthfront, Personal Capital and other young, fast-growing operations.

The 16th annual Executive Forum was held May 4-7 in Orlando, Fla. The event was attended by more than 300 executives who administer more than $2.7 trillion in combined assets.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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