Robo vs. Reality

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Published by Pete Mullen, Relationship Manager

Have you ever been in a hurry at the grocery store and decided to use the automated check-out line, instead of waiting the extra minute to get in line and have a human check your groceries out for you? Well, if your experience was anything like mine, about half of the time something went wrong with the machine, and it ended up taking twice as long as you expected. The main belief that we have with technology is that it is quicker and more convenient for us. Marketplace Magazine timed shoppers with identical grocery lists when they went through a regular cashier checkout compared to self-checkout. The cashier was able to get through the transaction faster and with fewer problems. In one case, an incorrectly punched code at a self-checkout meant one shopper was charged $70 for 10 Brussel sprouts. Often times, situations like this take the human being out of the equation, thus eliminating a real person who could prevent a problem like this from occurring.

While technology continues to change our lives daily, it is up to us to say enough is enough. Technology has revolutionized the way humans operate on a day to day basis. In just a few years, technology has dramatically impacted companies in all industries. Now, we do not have to go to a bank, we can scan our check to deposit money through an app. Now, we can go through the automated checkout line at the grocery store. Now, we can hire a robot as an online financial advisor to handle our finances. There is one common theme in all of these: no personal interaction.

There used to be only two options when it came to investing. First, do it yourself. Second, hire a financial advisor to help you understand the complexities of your situation and develop a personalized financial plan. Now, we have added a third, investing with a robot/computer. There are many reasons someone like you should invest with a human advisor. There also might be a few reasons someone might want to invest with a robot. I will list a few for each:


  1. Nothing beats a face-to-face or virtual relationship
  2. Relationship and trust built between the advisor and the investor
  3. Problem solver – humans think outside of the box, and can convey information in a way that others are more likely to understand and implement into their life. Human advisors can take a complex situation and make it simple for the client. For you baseball fans out there; a robot might be able to hit a fastball, but a human can hit the fastball and the off speed
  4. Robots cannot generally provide comprehensive financial planning on topics like insurance, retirement, education, taxes and estate planning (many times there is no exact right answer).
  5. Robots are not able to develop a personalized game plan specific to your needs
  6. Robots seek to understand the market in black and white, while it is unpredictable. They cannot manage the emotions of a client in various financial climates. While they might be able to generally understand your situation from the information you give them; they will never be able to fully understand your situation down to the core. Only a human advisor can ease fears and explain the complexities of the marketplace
  7. There is nothing a robot can do to reassure an investor that their portfolio is in safe hands


  1. Cheaper fees
  2. Accessibility for people who cannot meet the minimum asset requirement set by financial advisors

As technology continues to evolve there will always be certain jobs where an automated system makes sense and will work for a client or a customer. However, by substituting a robot for a human in the financial services industry you are removing a key asset to your personal situation. In financial services this is not an industry where “one size fits all”. Investing is not robotic and it is not mechanical. Robots play best in situations where conditions are repetitive; each and every individual’s financial situation is unique and different. Each individual needs to have their own advisor and team because at the end of the day, investing is personal, emotional and individually specific. With a robot you might be able to cover the basics, but you will not get a trusted advisor who understands the complexities of your situation, makes the complicated simple and can improve or develop your financial goals.

Think again before you use the self-checkout!

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