The industry is primed for the fast movers, the firms ready to "pull something out of their hat,” says Aite Group Research Director Alois Pirker, in this month’s cover story.
Just days after Pirker was interviewed, UBS got ahead of the pack as he suggests, announcing that it was partnering with technology developer SigFig to launch a robo platform for its 7,000 advisers. UBS was the first wirehouse to offer such innovation.
While it wasn’t a first for the industry — RBC’s U.S. wealth management unit, which counts about 1,900 advisers, announced a similar partnership earlier this year with BlackRock’s FutureAdvisor — the UBS-SigFig deal is certainly a game changer since the wirehouse has about $1 trillion in client assets under management, writes Senior Editor Andrew Welsch.
How fast will advisers catch on as more firms follow UBS and RBC’s lead?
The CFA Institute’s newest FinTech Survey suggests many investment professionals may hesitate before adopting new technology. The survey finds 47% of advisers fear flaws in algorithms and another 38% worry about higher rates of fraud and the mis-selling of financial advice.
Those who worry however, shouldn’t allow themselves to fall behind. Industry executives say innovation will keep coming. At least for now, technology doesn’t appear likely to replace the human adviser.
Brian Hull, head of the Client Advisory Group at UBS, Wealth Management Americas, says that the firm’s technology innovations will exist to support advisers serving wealthy clients whose needs are best met through human interaction.
Stifel Chief Executive Ronald Kruszewski echoes those remarks. “I believe the challenge for wealth management is to use technology to make it easier for you to organize and plan your wealth to help you achieve your goals, which are not necessarily linear on/off decisions,” he says.