Our Approach to the Robo-Advisor Trend

If you follow the investment management/financial planning industry, then you no doubt have heard the term “Robo-Advisor”. Robo-advisors are the hot topic right now and some advisors even view these types of digital platforms as the future of the industry. Robo-advisors come in all shapes and sizes, but for the most part tend to be lower-cost, automated investing solutions accessed digitally with minimal one-on-one interaction with a person. Some services don’t provide any contact with a live person while others offer call centers with new people answering each time you call, providing no real way to build a personal relationship. Others will charge you additional fees if you want to work with an actual financial planner. Here at Wealthspire Advisors we have a completely different philosophy when it comes to client service – we make it our mission to cultivate a true partnership with every client at every turn.

So why are we launching a solution that leverages an automated trading platform? We believe that we can create a compelling offering by combining the automation of a Robo-Advisor platform with the personal engagement of a dedicated Certified Financial Planner™, while not compromising our focus on client service. This belief led us to the creation of our Wealthspire Pathways service offering, which we don’t see as straying from our strategy, but rather as an evolution of it. Wealthspire has always stressed a long-term approach to investing, focused around a thoughtful financial plan. A long-term strategy that focuses on ultimate goals prevents investors from reacting emotionally to short-term market events, and we believe that a financial plan plays a pivotal role in helping individuals stay the course to achieve success. While a digital advisor solution may be distinctly different from our traditional wealth advisory offering, we created our own version that is still “plan first” and adheres to our fundamental investment approach.

Having spent 13+ years in the industry, my career has provided opportunities to work in several different roles. From my early days working in a broker dealer structure, to joining one of the largest banks in the world before finally choosing the independent Registered Investment Advisor channel, I have had the privilege to work with clients whose assets range from $100k to families with a net worth over $100m. I have decided to remain in the independent RIA space because that is where I can provide my clients with unconflicted advice. In other words, my focus can remain on doing the right thing for my clients, rather than selling a specific product. It is this shared viewpoint and mutual intersection of interest in the digital advisor idea that led me to Wealthspire Advisors. While interviewing with the Wealthspire team in early 2018, I was presented with the idea of creating a new service offering that rolls the efficiency of a digital advisor into a philosophy that stresses a financial plan and thoughtful, long-term investing with a lower minimum asset size to entry than traditional wealth management. As my career has progressed, I have become passionate about the impact financial advice can have on clients of all sizes and at various points in their investing life cycle. However, I have found some of my most meaningful engagements have come from working with clients with fewer assets, and Wealthspire Pathways has given me the opportunity to reach more of those people.

As a firm we felt that there is an unfulfilled niche for people that could greatly benefit from financial planning, but believe it is a service only for the wealthy or that they would be better off doing it themselves to save money. I highly encourage anyone with this thinking to read the blog post written by my colleagues “5 Myths about Financial Planning”, which debunks some of the commonly held misconceptions people may hold about financial planning. The fact is that those with lower assets or without industry knowledge often stand to gain the most through professional planning. We also felt there is an under-served part of the marketplace for people with less financial complexity that need help with planning, but don’t require all the additional services that may come with traditional wealth management at a higher cost. The strength of our Wealthspire Pathways service comes from offering the best of both worlds – a streamlined digital service and lower cost of a Robo-Advisor combined with a personalized financial plan and a dedicated CFP®. To be clear, this is not a traditional wealth advisor service. If you need robust access to your advisor, complex financial plans, or extensive coordination with accountants and other professionals, then the comprehensive wealth management service relationship Wealthspire delivers is more appropriate for you.
Just like traditional advisors, all digital advisors are different. Fit is crucially important, and investors should figure out what they really need and conduct due diligence before deciding on a traditional or digital solution. We see Wealthspire Pathways as a unique offering – all the perks of lower-cost investment management, but with personalized, continuous advisor access and a plan created by a CFP® professional.

Want to learn more about our philosophy or the Wealthspire Pathways service offering? Please visit our website (Wealthspire Pathways) or click here to schedule a time to speak with me directly. I look forward to hearing from you, so we can start working on a plan to help you reach your goals!

 

Wealthspire Advisors is the common brand and trade name used by Sontag Advisory LLC and Wealthspire Advisors, LP, separate registered investment advisers and subsidiary companies of NFP Corp.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.
This information should not be construed as a recommendation, offer to sell, or solicitation of an offer to buy a particular security or investment strategy. The commentary provided is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for accounting, legal, or tax advice. While the information is deemed reliable, Wealthspire Advisors, LP cannot guarantee its accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose, and makes no warranties with regard to the results to be obtained from its use. © 2019 Wealthspire Advisors

Kevin Smith, CFP®

Kevin is a wealth advisor based in our Rockville, Maryland office.