In the world of wealth management, it’s easy for some to see “robo” as a four-letter word. It’s something I can certainly understand — change is scary, especially when it challenges the way you’ve been doing business for years. But those who dismiss the rising tide of digital wealth as nothing more than a niche offering for a limited group of investors need to wake up before it’s too late.
Digital wealth is the technology that allows for faster, more efficient and cheaper investing services for people everywhere. Through this transformation, our industry is able to reach new and broader groups of investors, deliver the seamless client experiences that people increasingly expect, and execute with massive efficiency to maximize profitability. Consumers win. Our industry wins. The problem, of course, is getting to that nirvana.
To date, the unfolding era of digital wealth has followed historical patterns of innovation and disruption. The first phase occurred with first-movers like Betterment, Wealthfront and Personal Capital that launched robo offerings. The second phase commenced when the fast-followers jumped in — which included moves like BlackRock buying FutureAdvisor and Vanguard putting muscle and pricing power behind their Personal Advisor Services model. At both ends of the spectrum, the initial focus was purely digital advice offerings, but now we are quickly moving to a much wider application of digital wealth in our industry.
Enabling Digital Wealth
We are now into the third phase of innovation and disruption as more financial services firms, ranging from startups to blue-chip brands, transform by adding new channels or bringing digital capabilities to mature businesses.
Consumer trends and preferences are driving this change, and more and more retail customers are wanting the option of going from purely digital services to human hand-holding and everything in between, depending on who they are and where they are in life. They will also expect a more holistic offering rather than siloed services for investing, banking and other services. Seamless personalization is the new standard for a great client experience, and forward-thinking firms are dedicating themselves to delivering it.
Pricing in a Digital World