Are Investment Advisors going to be replaced by computers?

One of the benefits of getting older has been the experience of using objects that become outdated because of technology. For example, I used a slide rule in school for arithmetic classes. Slide rules were replaced by calculators. Typewriters were replaced by computer keyboards. Kodak instant camera pictures are now available on most cell phones. Faxing was the first challenge to postal mail and then scanning and emailing challenged faxing. There are many other examples of changes to our everyday way of life due to technology.

There is a new form of investment advisory that is machine driven. They are called Robo-Advisers. They are low-cost investment platforms packaged and sold as an auto-pilot investment alternative. In other words, it is a machine driven investment advisor. It’s the investment version of the upcoming driverless car. The vast majority of investors using robo-advisers are young investors. Only the future will decide if this is a profitable method of investing serious money. I admire those investors trying to lower their advisory fees. I think it’s appropriate to use an old expression that I learned as a young man in the investment business. “I’m not as concerned with the return ON my investment as I am the return OF my investment".

One of the events that occurs in investing is a bear market. Bear markets happen in every market including bonds, stocks, commodities, real estate and alternative investments. A bear market is described as a market that declines by 20% or more. Bear markets can appear with no advance warning. They can be frightening and severe. There is no guarantee when they will come, how long they will last or how dramatic the decline they will be. I have lived through 20% bear markets and 80% bear markets. There is one reason that I attribute my survival of multiple bear markets. That reason is people. Experience people help guide investors during bear markets. They stop investors from making investment moves during periods of greed and fear. There is one thing that is certain in investing. There is a bear market coming. No one knows when it’s coming, but everyone knows it’s coming. I wish nothing but success to those investors utilizing robo-advisers. Only time will tell if their desire to lower investment fees by relying exclusively on computers will have been worth the savings.