Enjoy the current installment of “weekend reading for financial planners” – this week’s edition kicks off with the news that robo-advisor Betterment has raised yet another $70M round of venture capital funding, and boosted its valuation up to $800 million… though the company intends to use the dollars primarily to hire more human financial advisors, and launch new products, suggesting that even the leading pure robo-advisor is pivoting away from its roots to try to become a broader wealth management platform and brand.
From there, we have several more articles around the theme of advisor technology, including a fascinating look at how Morgan Stanley is planning to use big data and AI to augment the productivity of its financial advisors (with everything from tools that automatically monitor and provide updated portfolio recommendations to clients, to solutions that pre-draft relevant emails to clients and allow advisors to more easily customize and then send), a review of the advisor technology platforms of some of the smaller RIA custodians (including RBC Advisor Services, TradePMR, and SSG), a new advisor technology solution called “BizEquity” that helps advisors to do business valuations for their small business owner clients (either as a value-add, or a prospecting tool), and some tips on how to run an effective internal cybersecurity training session for your advisory firm.
We also feature a few practice management articles this week, from the reason why advisory firms should do less customization of their financial advice as the firm grows and adds more advisors, to how the rise of back-office custodians and technology has powered a growth of independent advisors and made it possible for even small “solo” advisory firms to be very successful (without the resources of a traditional wirehouse), why advisory firms need to focus on building a firm foundation before executing new growth initiatives, and a look at the relative dearth of internship opportunities in the independent advisory community (and some steps to take to fill that void).
We wrap up with three interesting articles, all looking at the ongoing evolution of investment theory: the first looks at how, even with the rise of passive index funds at an ever-lower cost, the fact that retail investors can’t effectively own a market-cap-weighted index of global wealth means all investors ultimately have to make some “active” decision when it comes to asset allocation across the available indices and asset classes; the second is an in-depth look at the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis, and how it aims to explain the behavior of markets better than the Efficient Markets Hypothesis; and the last is a good discussion about the fundamental purpose of investing itself, and how a true goals-based approach to investing may entail different kinds of investment choices than asset allocations than the classic diversified equity portfolio (although for very long-term goals, even goals-based portfolios still end up being rather equity-centric!).
Enjoy the “light” reading!