Three reasons future investors will continue to value human advice

Apr 19, 2018 | Joshua Opheim


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Amid the conversation around the impact of AI on the economy, RBC Wealth Management’s Doug Guzman shares why future investors will continue to value human advice

By Doug Guzman, Group Head, RBC Wealth Management & Insurance

You have investable assets and need a diversified plan. You want both a retirement plan and a strategy for your teenagers’ education fund. You’re in the market for a vacation home but you and your siblings are trying to settle a late parent’s estate. – Would you feel comfortable discussing these complex scenarios with a robot?

There is much forecasting about the looming impact that artificial intelligence will have on almost every sector of the economy. In fact, a recent RBC research project, aptly titled Humans Wanted, analyzed the changing demand for Canadian skills, the impact of automation on work and the emerging needs for Canadian youth in the 2020s. It found that more than a quarter of Canadian jobs will be heavily disrupted by automation in the next decade as we move from a jobs economy to a skills economy. While some tasks can be completed more efficiently with robotic processing, there will always be a place for real-time, empathetic human advice; especially for high-net-worth (HNW) investors. Here’s why:

Investment advisors already have “future ready” #human skills: As automation permeates the workplace, certain skills will become table stakes - skills such as critical thinking, co-ordination, social perceptiveness, active listening and complex problem solving. While many workers will need to add these skills to their capabilities, advisors already have them and use them daily in their relationships with clients.

Life is more complex for everyone: Life is becoming more complicated for everyone, including HNW investors .For example, as we live longer lives, many will retire before they settle their parent’s estates. Investors will need more complex, holistic and thoughtful advice than ever before. While artificial intelligence may be able to do simple tasks faster than humans, it can’t respond to the changing needs of investors as they move through various life changes and events. Human advisors can help deal with the financial implications of major life events such as illness or divorce. They can also help investors understand trade-offs when pursuing multiple, competing financial goals.

People want to know that somebody ‘gets’ them: We all want to work with someone who understands our needs and provides bespoke advice that’s tailor-made for us. If we are unsure or emotional about a financial decision, we want a calm and trusted partner who can offer a different perspective. Take this year’s market volatility, for example. While passive ETFs or a robo-advisor might seem perfectly suited to take the emotion out of wealth management, a human advisor can listen with empathy, help investors understand the ramifications of emotion-based decision-making, and encourage longer term planning to protect their financial future.

The value of personalized advice and the strength of relationships will always be the biggest part of our business. The tools enabled by our advancing technological capabilities will simply free more time to focus on those meaningful interactions. Sounds like a win-win to me.