SEC FinTech Forum Part 2: Don’t Call Me a Robo Adviser
By Brian Vargo and Tyler Kirk
As we reported in Part 1 of this series of posts, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission held its first forum exclusively focused on the impact of the FinTech movement on November 14, 2016. The first panel of the forum addressed recent innovations in investment advisory services. The panel was comprised of Ben Alden, General Counsel of Betterment, Bo Lu, Co-Founder and CEO of Future Advisor at Blackrock, Mark Goines, Vice Chairman of Personal Capital, and Jim Allen, Head of Capital Markets Policy Group, CFA Institute. While several of the panelists lamented the use of the title “Robo Adviser,” the panel’s discussion was vibrant and delved deeply into the role robo advisers (advisers which rely to varying degrees on computer-based technology, primarily algorithms, to deliver investment advice) are and should be playing in the United States.
First, the panel discussed the growth in automated advice, attributing the growth to the ability of lower net worth investors, especially those comfortable with technology, to obtain affordable and sophisticated investment advice. Given the savings shortfall in the United States, this growth was viewed to be a positive trend. Further, the panel also noted that the DOL Fiduciary Rule is also driving growth. Ultimately, the panelists thought that the industry would consolidate as assets under management grew.