ETF Trends
ETF Trends

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By Mitchell H Caplan

It is almost impossible for advisers to go through a day without hearing how robo-advisers are shaking the foundation of their industry — and changing how their clients get financial advice. According to much of the industry commentary and media coverage, advisers should duck for cover and run for the hills in the face of an inevitable “robo-invasion.”

But the findings from our recent Advisor Authority Study, commissioned by Jefferson National and conducted online by Harris Poll among more than 500 RIAs and fee-based advisers nationwide, show a very different reality. Rather than a threat, today’s new generation of robo-advisers can be a valuable tool to help advisers grow their practice and better serve their clients. In fact, the most successful advisers understand that digital advisory solutions such as robo-advisers are an important part of a comprehensive offering.

While many believe that robos are keeping advisers up at night, the findings from Advisor Authority show a very different reality. The study found that one-tenth of RIAs and fee-based advisers have never even heard of robo-advisers. Roughly one-third say they only know the term, and only one-quarter were very familiar with the robo-advice model.

Just as awareness is low, adoption is slow among advisers as a whole, according to the study. Of those advisers who are familiar with robo-advice, only one-third currently use any type of robo in their practice. Of those not currently using robo-advice, just 15% are very likely to integrate this model into their practice in the coming year.

While this may seem surprising, the reality is that robo-advisers still make up a relatively small segment of the industry’s total assets under management. Their share is projected to reach $55 billion to $60 billion by year-end 2015 in a wealth management market that is valued at more than $18 trillion, according to Aite Group.

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