Big challenges call for bold moves and the right people to make them.
Charles Schwab seemed to have found the perfect leader for its robo-advisor initiatives in Naureen Hassan, who joined Schwab in 2003 from McKinsey. The initiative, rolled out for retail clients in March 2015 and for advisors in June 2015, amassed $6.6 billion in assets by March 31, 2016.
The success of the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and the Institutional Intelligent Portfolios platforms drew attention not just to Schwab but also to Hassan; Morgan Stanley lured her away this year to lead the strategy and marketing of digital tools and platforms for the wirehouse’s 16,000 financial advisors and 3.5 million clients.
“We are delighted to welcome Naureen to the Morgan Stanley team,” said COO Jim Rosenthal in a statement earlier this year. “Her record of successful innovation bringing exceptional digital resources to financial advisors and clients will sharpen our ability to compete for today’s high-net-worth individuals as well as those emerging in the next generation.”
Hassan, tapped as the firm’s chief digital officer, remains in San Francisco, where she can keep tabs on the latest Silicon Valley developments.
Why the move? “My decision […] relates to my views of the future of wealth management,” Hassan explained in an interview. “I believe successful firms in wealth management will combine the power of relationships through a financial advisor with the ease, simplicity and convenience that technology enables.”
Like many in the industry, she believes robo-advisors cannot replace their human counterparts, pointing out that investors have to make “decisions and plans about their lives, finances and investments — they need financial advisors to help them.”
But, the Princeton and Stanford Business School graduate asks, why not let technology do what it does best? “Modern technology has the power to simplify advisors’ lives by automating mundane tasks — opening accounts, rebalancing portfolios — freeing them up to spend more time with their clients,” she explained.
The plus side for clients is that more technology means less time and energy spent on paperwork. “Now it is about managing your finances anywhere and anyway you want: online, mobile, video,” Hassan stated.