As the old saying goes, there are only two certainties in life — death and taxes. But in today’s ever-evolving world, the reality is there is a third certainty: change. The financial services industry is worlds different than it was fifteen, ten, or even five years ago. Here, let’s look at the recent rise of robo, how financial services firms can competitively market to keep up with these platforms, and some considerations in taking the next step.
THE RISE OF ROBO
“Robo-advisor” is a term used to encompass online wealth management services that provide portfolio management advice using algorithms and automation. Because they are software platforms and don’t involve human financial planners, robo-advising doesn’t incorporate the personal aspects of wealth management, such as family goals or extraneous circumstances.
In the last two years, we’ve seen the demand for technology impact the financial services industry in a huge way. In 2015, Fidelity’s $250 million purchase of eMoney caused quite a stir. The firm immediately rolled out its next generation emX platform and integrated with more than two dozen applications, from MoneyGuidePro and Morningstar to Redtail and Albridge.
Examples of B-to-B and B-to-C robo-advisory platforms include:
These are just a few examples of robo-advisory services, and there are more popping up every day. Robos have risen in popularity because of their low costs, convenience, and simplicity.
MARKETING A ROBO-ADVISOR OFFERING
So how do financial advisory firms competitively market amidst robo-technologies? This is an important question because financial advisors want to position themselves as the preferred option compared to technology alone, but they also want to emphasize their planning technology. How best to focus on technology without going out of business?
When marketing a robo-advisor offering, advisors should focus on what this technology provides for clients. While the advisor might have been drawn to tech integrations because of all the bells and whistles promoted, at the end of the day their clients will be more concerned with how the integrations help them. Some questions to answer when drafting marketing materials include:
This is the position that the majority of the advisory firm’s marketing materials should take – client-centric and focused on the client’s needs. For example, eMoney and MoneyGuidePro provide clients the opportunity to see a living, breathing financial plan. There are plenty of features that advisors could list on their site, but simple is better and you only need to answer one question: how does this piece of technology help your clients?
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE IMPLEMENTING A ROBO STRATEGY
Robo-advising technologies are gaining more and more traction, and how to effectively market them has become a question many financial advisors are asking. Here are five things to do before implementing a robo-advisor strategy:
Understand the different types of robo-advising technology
Not all robos are built the same, and deciphering which platform is best for your clients is the first step in implementing these strategies. Three popular options are as follows:
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM
After understanding the basics of robo-platforms, advisors should choose which one is best for their clients and their firm. What do they want to accomplish with this offering? What benefit does it provide their clients? These are good questions to get started in the search for the perfect robo. Some popular picks—and ones that can easily be integrated into FMG Suite sites—include Riskalyze, eMoney Advisor, HiddenLevers, Nest Egg Guru, and Advizr.
HIGHLIGHT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMAN AND COMPUTER
When marketing the robo-advisor offering, position it as a complement to the existing practice. It’s important to understand that the robo-platforms aren’t an alternate part of the practice, but instead a tool that builds on the comprehensive services the advisor already offers. It’s not one or the other, human advisor or robo-advisor, but a harmonious relationship between the two.
KNOW HOW OTHER ADVISORS ARE USING ROBO-TECHNOLOGIES
The best way to get started implementing a robo-advisor strategy is to see how other financial advisors are marketing similar offerings.
For example, Eric Flaten of ePersonal Financial offers his technology as a FinTech Program, a more affordable program for younger investors. Here, he emphasizes the value of working with a financial advisor, but also highlights the advantages of using technology to streamline the process. Financial advisors also often integrate buttons and widgets on their homepage to generate leads and information about their website visitors.
With the rapid changes in fiduciary responsibility, broker/dealer acquisitions, and rising robo-platforms, it may seem impossible to keep up. Many traditional advisors have found themselves questioning where they belong in this growing space and how they can utilize these changes to their advantage. But with a little understanding of the robo space, they can competitively market their service offerings. Technology can be a friend, not a foe.
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