Do you remember Robocop? Yes, that kind of police half machine half human. Paul Verhoeven’s film was very successful at the end of the 80’s last century. That proposal (the fusion between humans and machines) is a possible development in finances, but please do not expect a cyborg in a bank or managing fund office.
The adviser and blogger Michael Kitces proposed the approach to the “cyborg” advisor already last year and repeated it somehow some days ago. Robo-advisors have changed deeply the financial landscape. Algorithms, low fees and thin structure are the main characteristics, but humans still play a role in some robo-advisor models. Let’s look, for instance, Personal Capital or Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, where there is a combination of technology and human advice.
A recent report from My Private Banking points out that this mixed advisor model will grow by 2020 up to 3,700 billion dollars and represent the 10% of the total investable wealth in 2025. On the contrary, pure automated robo-advisors will keep only a 1.6% of the market share. It already mentioned a relevant trend: the white label robo-advisors by technological providers for financial entities.
The robo-advisor phenomenon have shown a more complex evolution than it was expected. At the very beginning, it sounded that machines will substitute everyone in the wealth management branch. However, we are evolving to a mixed landscape where pure automatic robo-advisors (Betterment, Wealthfront) and automated platforms for self-directed investors (as T-Advisor) live together in the markets with entities that have developed their own platforms (as Vanguard did) or bought existing companies (as BlackRock did with Future Advisor) and with cyborg wealth managers.
The market has place enough for several models, but it is true that the changes are focusing in providing a “human touch” to algorithmic solutions. Kitces, as we already mentioned, titled his recent post as: “The B2C Robo-Advisor Movement Is Dying, But Its #FinTech Legacy Will Live On!”. The text explained the difficulties of the pure tech model, but accept the revolution in the sector made by technology. In fact, he underlines that technology isn’t replacing advisors, but increasing the number of them. Wealth managers accepted technology and they are learning how to use it and improve their results. My Private Banking proposes also different approaches and strategies to robo solutions depending on the customer segments.
In conclusion, the financial sector is already aware that robo-advisors are not anymore fashion: they are a stabilised solution in the market and they are real competitors to the classical individual human-to-human relationship in advising. But the sector finally learned. They have forgot the negative opinions and adopted a different view. Technology is an ally and human advisors have to play the battle in this field if they want to survive. The hybrid advisor model is a kind of solution that will complete progressively the wealth-managing sector with the traditional and the pure tech model. Let’s see the trend in the next years and the market share that they will take up.