“Technology is not a threat, but an opportunity, if you build on that technology and add value,” Kitces told financial advisors in his presentation at the Inside ETFs 2017 conference underway in Hollywood, Florida.
Technology “is not replacing advisors; for most it’s replacing the back office … and not doing much to the front office.”
Robo technology makes it easy to onboard a client and fund accounts – in as little as 30 minutes – and “represents commoditization of basic asset allocation,” said Kitces. “If all you’re going to do is that [asset allocation], robos will do it cheaper.”
Kitces noted that more firms now “give away asset allocation for free” while charging an AUM fee for advice only. “What can you add on top of what a robo-advisor does for free?” asked Kitces.
For millennial clients, it’s helping them to pay down student loan debt, providing them advice on merging households or, in the case of divorce, separating them, not Social Security optimization, said Kitces. For the ophthalmologist, it might be advising them on how to sell their practice.
Consumers are willing to pay for advice, but not always “baby-boomer centric advice,” which many advisors have been giving, said Kitces, citing a Cerulli report about millennials’ willingness to pay for advice.