Digital advisors in 2016 and beyond

January 12, 2016 by Cory Olson

Casual businessman working on computer in office creating his digital advisor space

About the author:

Cory Olson

Director, global product management

Cory has nearly 20 years of product management and sales experience with banking and financial software and wireless technologies. An avid sports fan, he received an MBA with honors from DePaul University and a Bachelors of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In 2016, the digital advisor space will experience rapid growth with the release of many new proprietary technology solutions.

According to Financial Planning, “one-third of financial advisors believe that technology will be the primary force that drives industry innovation.”

In many ways the robo-evolution reminds me of the B2C growth and wipeout that occurred in retail around 2000. Does anybody remember Pets.com? At that time, there was a large amount of e-commerce start-ups looking to unseat large brick-and-mortar incumbents.

E-commerce did not go away, but most of those start-up sites did. Now every successful incumbent has their own e-commerce sites like Bestbuy.com. The same thing is happening with digital advisors and automated investment advice as the large incumbents, such as Schwab and Vanguard, launch their own “e-commerce” offerings.

Proprietary digital investment automation solutions continue to be announced by major broker-dealers and banks (e.g. LPL Financial, BMO Harris, Wells Fargo). 2016 will be a big year for more of these solutions hitting the market. They are being developed internally as a low cost distribution and client acquisition channel for the firm’s investment products

According to Sean McDermott, leader of FinTech research for Corporate Insight, “the biggest firms will likely eschew white-labeled platform options and opt instead for proprietary technology.”

While the proliferation of automated investment advice continues, the standalone B2C robo-investment solution model, such as Betterment or Wealthfront, is quickly becoming extinct. I suspect there will only be two or three standalone firms by end of 2016, as large firms acquire start-ups to accelerate their efforts and smaller vendors fail to scale.

Developing a national brand is very difficult. The big firms like Schwab, TD, Fidelity, and Vanguard have a huge advantage. There really is not any one “robo-advisor” vendor with market scale. Each large broker-dealer or bank is developing their own solution which limits partnership potential.

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Our planning platform gives you all the detailed calculations for holistic advice. We keep it up-to-date with tax and regulator updates, as well as adding new capabilities over time that can be incorporated into your solutions to make you a better digital advisor.

We focus on the details of planning. You focus on digital experience.

Want to see about how Narrator can help you give your clients the total digital experience based on your strategy? Click here to learn more, or call (855) 885-7526 to speak with an Advicent representative.