Private equity and venture capital are pouring billions into robotic financial tools, but consumers still overwhelmingly want to talk to a live financial planner when it comes to getting investing advice.
Only about 11% of financial planners currently use digital investment tools, according to a survey by Financial Planning, and that number actually declined slightly from last year. The survey of more than 350 registered investment advisors found high expectations remain for robo-advice, and that it will change wealth management over the next three years. It seems customers aren’t sold on it yet.
“Clients come to wealth managers because of the personal attention to their specific situations,” advisor Chris Chen told Financial Planning. “Robos can’t do that.”
Robo-advisors have made few inroads after being seen as the future of wealth management. Clients are hanging on to the old ways of doing things, even with the added fees of a live advisor, Financial Planning said. Advisory firms also aren’t rushing in, making sure they aren’t going to take a hit to their profits when they embrace the technology.
Financial technology has been a hot spot for venture capital and private equity investors. Investments from both soared to $98.1 billion last year from $14.1 billion five years earlier, according to PitchBook data. That pace dropped off this year, when fintech investments have reached $54.7 billion so far.
Digital tools like financial planning software are used far more than robo-advisor programs, the survey found. Among the robo tools, Schwab Intelligent Portfolio is the top choice.
- Robo-advisor Swell closed this summer after owner Pacific Life said it failed to “achieve the necessary scale.”
- Charles Schwab is said to be looking at buying TD Ameritrade for $26 billion at least in part to bring together the companies’ robo-advisories, which appeal to younger clients.
- For robo-advisors to be more widely adopted, they need to transform into a “bionic advisor toolkit,” the survey said. Such a toolkit “automates back-office tasks, creates onboarding efficiencies and deepens online client experiences.”