While much has been written about the disruptive “threat” of the robo-advisors, the reality is that even after several years, their market share is still a miniscule fraction of 1%. Robo-advisors have had limited success, even in areas with little or no head-to-head competition against traditional financial advisors, like working with Millennial clients.
In fact, the struggles of most robo-advisor platforms have been so significant, they’ve been increasingly pivoting to work with established financial services firms, or to become available to individual financial advisors, in the hopes that such partnerships will allow robo-technology firms to gain the volume and scale they need to succeed.
Yet the caveat is that individual financial advisors rolling out web-based “robo” tools to reach Millennial clients will probably be even less successful than the pure robo-advisors have been! After all, the challenge of client acquisition costs is equally difficult for human advisors as it has been for robo-advisors, yet most existing advisory firms are even less attuned to the challenges of how to effectively execute a digital marketing plan!
Ultimately, this doesn’t mean that “robo-advisors-for-advisors” solutions will be worthless for all, but the key point is to recognize that advisors who want to serve Millennials must start by crafting a service model that is actually relevant and valuable for Millennials, have a means to market to Millennials, and then add a robo-technology solution on top to aid with the implementation. Advisors won’t be able to “out-robo” a robo-advisor; at best, the opportunity is to leverage robo-advisor technology as a part of a broader holistic service offering for Millennials, where advisors can focus on their strengths, and use technology to improve the efficiency of the process… but only for advisors who can solve the marketing challenge first!