The Pros and Cons of Robo-Advisors

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By Amy Lancaster

WealthSimple, Charles Schwab, Vanguard - what do these all have in common?

Yes, they’re all financial services - but with a different spin.

You can check your finances, manage your budget, track your spending, look at your investments, make trades, and whatever else your money-minding heart desires entirely online.

In this era of convenience - from same-day Amazon shipping and arrival, to doing your entire grocery shopping trip from your mobile phone in the comfort of your own home - it was only a matter of time until occupations we considered unable to ever be automated became – well, automated.

Sure, we don’t mind apps and programs doing less important tasks like sending us a watch or delivering flowers, but it’s much better to have a physical person managing our entire net worth - right?

Today, we’ll be examining the pros and cons of robo-advising. Take a look for yourself:

PROS

Robo-advisors tend to allow a smaller minimum amount for new investors than traditional advisors. They’re also good at keeping things simple for newbies. “The minimum investment to get started can be lower than what traditional financial advisors require. That’s a plus if you’re working with a smaller pool of cash.

Robo-advisors also keep things simple, which may be appealing to younger investors who haven’t accumulated a lot of assets yet. If your tax situation isn’t particularly complicated or you don’t have any need for estate planning services yet, an online investment manager may be a good fit” (Lake 2018).

Another appealing factor? They tend to be less expensive. “Price may be the robos’ single biggest advantage: They charge around 0.25%, or $125 on a $50,000 investment” (Otter 2019). The lower fees and lack of minimums make robo-advisors very appealing to younger clients.

Of course, we can’t forget about that convenience factor. Whether you don’t have time to manage your own investments, or you just simply don’t want to worry about it - robo-advisors can handle any of the nitty gritty details you don’t want to or can’t.

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CONS

While all of these may sound appealing, there are certainly drawbacks. Personalization is the number one reason why you should choose a human advisor. “…if saving for retirement is your main focus, a financial advisor might be able to analyze your situation and help you fine-tune your plans so you’re in the best position to hit your goal. A financial advisor might be able to offer more detailed advice, on things like budgeting, career changes and when to retire” (Lake).

This personal approach can also help when things aren’t going exactly how you expected. Case-in-point: when the market suffered back in December 2018, our clients greatly appreciated when Mark and Drew would reach out to console their worries and reassure them that their money, along with their future financial goals, were in good hands. “The robot doesn’t know that you have a special-needs child or that your boss is a jerk and you are one mistake away from getting fired. In both cases, a good human advisor would adjust your financial plan to account for the special circumstances” (Otter).

In the end, you are able to decide what option you’d prefer. We believe, however, that while robo-advising may be good for those just starting out or looking for convenience while they begin investing, the best route to take is to have a human advisor who knows you personally, can understand your circumstances, and can sympathize with you in any situation.

So, ready to delete that advisor app and take the next step in your financial journey? Contact us today for a free consultation!


References:
Lake, Rebecca (5th September, 2018). “Pros and Cons of Using a Robo-Advisor to Build Wealth.” Smart Asset. Retrieved from https://smartasset.com/investing/pros-and-cons-of-using-a-robo-advisor-to-build-wealth

Otter, Jack (6th January, 2019). “The Pros and Cons of Robo Advisors.” Barron’s. Retrieved from https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-pros-and-cons-of-robo-advisors-51547643601