Clients' approval means the robo trend is here to stay -- and some traditional advisors are choosing to embrace it.
During a panel at the In|Vest conference in New York, David Lyon, CEO of Main Street Financial and Oranj and Barry Ritholtz, CIO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, talked about how they incorporated digital tools into their otherwise traditional RIA practices.
While fear is a common theme when discussing robo trends, Ritholtz and Lyon say they chose to embrace digital tools after listening to their clients.
"Our clients were coming to us and we were interpreting the feedback we were getting," Lyon says. "They were asking to work in a more fluid manner...They wanted to be helped real time, on demand."
Ritholtz says he was neglecting an untapped market by only focusing on clients with large amounts of assets. By launching LiftOff, a low-cost online only investment site, he was able to welcome clients with as little as $5,000 in assets.
"I grew up a middle class kid on Long Island," Ritholtz says. "We didn't love saying, 'You have to have a million dollars to talk to us. That's not who we are."
And with more and more advisors courting Gen X and Y clients, Ritholtz says having a robo platform can be a great building block for your business.
"These generations live online. They're absolutely digital. At a certain point, maybe they inherit enough money that they're going to need some human advice," he says. "But for now, this platform is really ideal for them."
Lyon says that his clients were fed up with reading lengthy reports and wanted greater access to their information. Lyon launched Oranj, a practice management software application for advisors, and the Main St. Advisor app that allows his clients free access to their investment portfolios and financial documents.
"We thought we were doing a fairly bang-up job for our clients," says Lyon. "But one of them in particular said, 'I don't want to look another fancy spreadsheet, I look at those things all day long. That's what I hired you to do.'"
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