From the rise of robo advisors to the recent DOL ruling, the wealth management industry faces pressure to provide clients with a better user experience, more investment options, more transparency and reduced fees. Corporate Insight recently attended the 2016 In|Vest conference on these and other current and future market trends. Held at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, this gathering of executives, advisors and thought leaders in the wealth management industry, including banks (Citi and Wells Fargo), brokerages (Schwab, E*TRADE, Fidelity and Capital One Investing) and robo advisors (Betterment, FutureAdvisor and SigFig), spoke to the need to strike a balance between technology and human advice. For those who couldn’t make it to this year’s In|Vest, we present takeaways and highlights from the conference along with four firms to watch.
Conference Takeaways and Highlights:
- American advisory firms should look to expand business into the growing Chinese middle class market, though navigating the country’s large bureaucratic system can be cumbersome.
- Presentations throughout the conference reiterated that digital advice providers and human advisors must come together if wealth management firms are to succeed in a market where fees and FA headcount are declining. There was no consensus, however, on the best way to establish this hybrid model.
- A keynote panel featuring Betterment’s Joe Duran, SigFig’s Mike Sha, United Capital’s Joe Duran and Jefferson National’s Mitch Caplan spoke to how the growing role of robo advisors has disrupted the business model of traditional, local advisors. Joe Duran predicted that the industry in 3-5 years will see the “death of geography,” as technology will take away the competitive advantage advisors used to enjoy through their proximity to clients.
- Firms should consider empathetic platform design, which involves creating a design that is not only visually pleasing but that also simplifies information and relieves users’ stress.
Jon Stein, Joe Duran, Mitch Kaplan and Mike Sha During June 17 Keynote Panel- Point|Counterpoint: The Role of Robos
Firms to Watch:
- United Capital – Emerging victorious from an elevator-pitch-style contest for wealth management technology and platforms poised to disrupt the industry, United Capital’s CEO Joe Duran delivered a compelling pitch about how the firm leverages behavioral economic technology to help advisors better engage with clients by answering questions such as “Am I OK?” and “How long can I live before my money runs out?”
- SwipeStox – Based in Germany, this mobile social trading app allows users to trade forex, indices and CFDs by copying others’ trades. SwipeStox incorporates elements of social media platforms, such as Facebook, by allowing users to browse a feed of trades shared by other users. The feed shows who created the trade and how profitable the trade is. Similar to dating app Tinder, users swipe through the trades of other experienced traders—left to discard a trade, right to add it to a watch list. Although not currently available in the United State, the firm looks to expand overseas in the future.
- Blooom – the automated advisory platform aims to help Americans better handle their 401(k)s.
- Capital One Investing – During In|Vest, Capital One Investing president Yvette Butler announced the firm’s new managed portfolio offerings and Advisor Connect Program, a service that will allow clients to receive investing advice from advisors in call centers around the country.