Last month, I received an interview invitation by a renowned Linked-In blogger. She told me she was writing an article about how robo-advisors and technology are impacting the financial advice industry and wanted input from advisors in the field. This is a topic close to my heart, so I accepted the interview.
Soon after the interview started, I became increasing uncomfortable on how she framed her questions. Questions like, “How is technology threatening your role as an insurance professional?” “Experts say robo-advisors will totally disrupt the industry. As a financial advisor, what is you and your colleagues’ biggest concern?” I sensed where this interview was going, had her own preconceived notions, and was about to put the words in my mouth.
“I am not sure how to answer your question, because I have a very different view about the relationship between technology and our profession.” I finally decided not to follow her chain of thoughts.
“Technology is enhancing our service level. We are now able to use social media to promote our work and communicate directly to targeted markets without a large marketing budget. We connect with clients through mobile phone, email, text message, messaging app, any time anywhere, so client always feel our presence. We can conduct Skype, Zoom, or Team meeting online with clients and colleagues, which makes our days more productive and easier for clients to fit our meetings into their schedule. We are empowered to do a better job, service more customers, promote our business, all thanks to technology,” I said.
Obviously my statement wasn’t what she had in mind. Her topics were more focused on career trends, and how technology will potentially take over humans eventually. Then she persisted, “What are your thoughts on robo-advisors? Aren’t they a threat to you?”
“Personal income tax filing software has been around for almost 2 decades. Did you see tax filing software completely replace accountants?” I asked. “Robo-advisors will attract some customers for sure, but not all customers. The way I see it going forward, robo-advisors will become part of a financial planner’s service offering. We, human advisors will have more time to take care of more clients, while robo-advisors working for human advisors can take care of portfolio management and market research.”
She politely thanked me for my time and told me that she would let me review my quotes before publishing them. It has been two months and I haven’t heard from her.
Am I wrong? Because as far as I’m concerned, technology raises the bar for insurance and financial advisors. Technology creates new ways and new possibilities. We are living in the most exciting time of an industry, which traditionally, has been perceived as a dull and boring one.
People ask me, “There are so many investment/insurance options out there, who needs a financial advisor?” I said, “There are so many investment/insurance options out there, it is becoming more and more complicated to choose the right one and manage it well. That is why people need professional help more than ever.” Trust me, if you have many different clothes in your closet, you are going to need a wardrobe consultant to help you coordinate and make you look good.