From there, we have a few interesting new studies and articles on the so-called "robo-advisor" trend, including a Gallup poll that finds investors still prefer dedicated human advisors to financial website solutions by a 2:1 margin (and more affluent individuals favor the human solutions even more), a Spectrem Group study that finds for consumers who do plan to work in an online environment that the robo-advisors may actually be slightly preferable to human advisors engaged virtually (though there may be enough interest for both to succeed), and an interesting discussion from Mark Hurley about how ultimately the technology-will-replace-advisors threat isn't really any more dangerous today than it was in 1999 (when similar comments were made) and that ultimately much of the technology that backs today's robo-advisors will likely end out being used by the rest of the financial services industry (rather than continue to compete with it).
We also have several investment articles this week, including: a look at how some advisors are starting to adopt small allocations of Bitcoin into client portfolios; how Bitcoin does not really function (yet?) as a true currency but as a non-liquid investment asset may still improve risk-adjusted returns for portfolios (at least based on the historical track record for the virtual currency, which may or may not persist in the future); a fascinating look from Howard Marks of Oaktree at how true risk is more about the possibility of permanent loss of capital than about volatility, but that the truer measure of risk is also surprisingly difficult to quantify and apply effectively; and a discussion from Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal at the behavioral finance phenomenon of "shared attention" and the fact that who you choose to listen to and follow and get your information from can have a surprisingly powerful effect (good or bad) on your (investment) results.
We wrap up with three interesting articles: the first looks at how the only real way to stay competitive in today's environment is to be a continual learner, or else face stagnation and boredom that can undermine yourself and your company; the second discusses the five essential skills that planners must learn (as distinguished from the technical knowledge we must have to be competent) if we truly want clients to implement our financial advice (hint: it's all about the key skills that create true rapport and trust); and the last is a piece by industry commentator Bob Veres that takes an interesting look at the current regulatory environment and suggests that the real problem is not that we need to apply a new fiduciary standard to brokers but simply that the SEC has allowed the brokerage industry to drift too far from where it once was and should just do a better job enforcing the rules that were originally written which require a clear(er) separation of brokerage firms and investment/financial advice in the first place. Enjoy the reading!