No amount of automated investing technology can substitute the role of the traditional financial advisor, who will remain in demand for generations to come, NAPFA executives say. 

"It's a tool," says NAPFA CEO Geoffrey Brown. "You can put some money into it but it's never going to completely replace that human interaction."

Brown says that while the benefits of robo tools should be praised and readily adopted, clients both young and old will continue to seek face-to-face interaction when making the "big decisions."

"If I just want somebody to help me just park some money into a bunch of mutual funds then come back in a few years and check on it and figure out how much I made; fine," he says. "But when I'm thinking about my financial future … I deserve more."


Franklin Moore, CIO of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based RIA Vintage Financial Services and chair on NAPFA's national board of directors, says that even amid the steady rollout of tech tools, clients will continue to look for human advisors when it comes to the tough decisions. 

"Our clients want someone they can sit down with and look across the table to and pick up the phone and call and talk to when the market drops 1,000 points in a day," Franklin explains. "You can't do that with a computer."

Brown says it's that human interaction clients will look for when pursuing financial advice for generations to come.

"Advisors, especially comprehensive financial planners, are bigger than just financial advisors," Brown says. "They're advisors, life coaches, confidants, therapists [and] psychologists."


Amid an aging industry of both clients and advisors, Moore says RIAs that have been hesitant to adopting technological tools should consider the long-term benefits to their practice.

"If you want to continue to grow and build a practice for the next 20 years, and bring out new younger clients, you have to adapt to the times," Moore says. "You have to stay up with what's going on."

At the end of the day, Brown says financial advisors will always try to find the optimal solution to better serve their clients.

"I think within our community there's definitely a willingness to have that smarter, more efficient practice," Brown explains.

"So what we see is that any time there's a technological advancement that the advisors are going to evaluate and going to have and see in their place of business, there are some that are going to be very early adopters and there will be some that will listen to their peers after they’ve had some success or failures and bring them on board, and then you'll have people that wait till the last minute."

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