An article title caught my eye recently: “Survey: Most Americans want financial advice from humans.” The teaser linked to an article by Lydia Saad for Gallup which found that although there is great buzz about the rise of “Robo-Advisors” a majority of Americans prefer to work with a dedicated advisor, advisory firm, or at least a friend or family member. The article concluded:
The most recent Wells Fargo/Gallup survey shows that the great majority of investors feel they need expert advice to help them invest in the stock market, and the desire for professional input would likely be greater when advice needed for other types of financial matters (such as planning for retirement, college expenses, and healthcare) is factored in. Accordingly, eight in 10 investors report that they do receive advice in some form, spanning the four sources of advice tested in the poll. And despite lots of buzz about online financial tools that allow users to submit their portfolios to computer algorithms, most investors still feel more comfortable involving a human, whether in the form of a dedicated personal adviser or a financial advisory firm that gives them access to live counselors in a call center.
Investment advice is relatively simple to give online. In fact, it is one of the areas that a monkey throwing darts actually does *better* than a human because they pick more small cap stocks.
We regularly provide asset allocation advice on our website including our annual “Marotta Gone-Fishing Portfolio.” We believe it is even better than the dart-throwing monkey. And I am glad when we receive fan-mail of non-clients who are using our investment advice to craft better asset allocations for their own portfolios.
But monkeys and robo-advisors aren’t very good for the comprehensive wealth management advice that most people crave.