Answered by Lee Goggin
The rise of robo-advice has been one of the biggest trends to emerge in the investment industry in recent years. It might sound very futuristic (and actually a little menacing!), but it’s actually a pretty simple concept: robo-advisers use mathematical rules or algorithms to provide financial “advice” online with limited or no human intervention.
And therein lies the rub. Robo-advisers are of course generally much cheaper than services delivered by humans, but I would argue that a very great deal of the value of advice comes from this personal interaction.
A human wealth manager will put a lot of time into understanding your situation, objectives and attitudes to things like investment risk. In contrast, a robo-adviser will base its view of your needs on what can be quite simplistic questionnaires alone.
Human advisers also act as wealth “coaches” to a large extent, helping us to see our finances holistically and make long-term, pretty complex plans. They interrogate our assumptions and bring to bear deep experience of helping similar people achieve their various goals.
None of this to say there isn’t a place for robo-advice; like DIY investing platforms before them these tools have helped many people get into investments for the first time.
Their low-costs might mean that robo might be a good option for a proportion of even very wealthy people’s money. But for all of it, surely not?
Robo-advisers tend to focus on passive (index-tracking) investments like ETFs. These may be great when markets are rising, but when the investment environment becomes less benign (as it has started to now), the value of experienced, human wealth managers will come to the fore.
Just as the investment markets are not purely rational, it is unlikely the full richness of your financial picture can be captured by an algorithm.
The wealth managers on our panel are committee to better-value fees. You may be surprised how favourably they compare to online-only options when your potential gains, risk management and tax mitigation are taken into account.
Ask yourself whether a robo-adviser can really do enough for the health of your wealth?
Anonymous, 44, Business Owner | Asked on Dec, 11
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