Robo-advisors poised for growth

par Andrew Rickard | December 03 2015 07:00AM

Want to connect with Gen Y? A robo-advisor platform may be a good way to do it.

While a survey conducted by industry research group LIMRA shows that 81% of consumers in the United States are unfamiliar with automated investment platforms, research suggests that these “robo-advisors” could capture a significant portion of the market. LIMRA notes that wealthier clients with $500,000 or more of investable assets are already using small amounts to try out automated advice to see if it will suit their needs.

Speaking at the 2015 LIMRA Annual Conference which took place in Boston last week, Dan Egan, director of behavioral finance at the robo-advisor firm Betterment, said that automated technology is allowing firms to reach a segment of the market that has never been offered financial advice before. Egan described the current situation as “a blue ocean of consumers in front of us”.

LIMRA argues that this kind of platform need not be a threat to financial professionals, and points out that large investment firms are adopting the technology specifically to help advisors expand their clientele. Robo advice may be especially useful when connecting with the Generation Y demographic; LIMRA’s research shows that half of them want advice on life insurance and 8 in 10 want to learn about savings options and strategies.

“Because Gen Y is more comfortable with technology, financial professionals can use a robo-advisor to help acquire new and emerging affluent clients. Use of the platform by advisors also provides a reason to engage with the adult children of existing clients,” says LIMRA. “Advisors who leverage this technology stand a better chance of retaining these clients as their needs for financial advice go beyond what the robo-advisor can provide.”