CHICAGO -- Online financial advisors aren't the next hot thing. The need for human service won't change.

That's according to Judson Bergman, chief executive officer of Envestnet, who spoke at the TAMP's annual Advisor Summit this week.

While some financial journalists and others "call robo advisors the next big thing in wealth management," Bergman told attendees in the opening session, "we are not so sure."


Rather, Envestnet thinks "the next big idea" is to help advisors evolve, leverage and enhance their practices, Bergman said.

In his speech on "disruptive innovators," Bergman cautioned advisors and the industry to consider what parts of their businesses may be susceptible to disruptive technologies.

When Bergman asked the audience about the effects of technological innovations on the industry, most advisors agreed that the human touch -- specifically, the interactive element of the financial planning process -- was invaluable to clients and something that online advisors won't ever replace.
Bergman agreed that these automated advice services ("I don't even like the term robo advisor, but we'll use it") can't offer a deep understanding of client needs.

Beyond the crucial human element, other advisors in the audience pointed to larger industry concerns related to financial planning.

"As long as Barron's equates financial planning with investment management, advisors won't be able to get next-generation clients into the chair," one attendee said.
And if advisors can't get in front of these wary new clients, they won't be able to explain the difference and the value of planning, he said.

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