The Blog

February 23, 2016

Why Real Advisors are Better than Robo-Advisors

by Sheryl Rowling
Online investment solutions (robo-advisors) are popping up everywhere. In general, robo-advisors, such as Betterment, WealthFront, Schwab and Vanguard, provide investors with any size portfolio the opportunity for convenient, low-cost and (somewhat) tax efficient investment management.

Toy robot

Robo may be the easy solution but…

Robo investing, although easy, is not the same thing as comprehensive wealth advisory services. For those looking for more than just account level

Comprehensive Financial Planning

Develop a customized financial plan addressing not only your investments but also cash flow, detailed retirement planning, insurance needs, college funding, estate planning and tax planning. Developing an appropriate investment plan is best achieved when looking at the entire situation, not just a quick risk profile survey.

Location Optimization

Save on taxes by investing on the “household” level. Investing account-by-account makes it easy to track, but it ignores perhaps the largest tax-savings opportunity: location optimization. By managing all of your accounts as one portfolio, your advisor can place less tax efficient investments into the IRA and hold more tax efficient investments in the taxable account. That way, for example, taxes aren’t immediately payable on bond interest held in your IRA and appreciating stocks held in the taxable account will ultimately be subject to capital gains rates (about half of the cost of ordinary tax rates if held in the IRA).

Hand Holding

Be there for advice and conversations on a personal level. Your personal financial advisor can answer questions like “What happens if I sell my house this year?” or “Should I buy or lease my new car?” When the market is going crazy, your personal financial advisor can offer reassurance and relate impacts to your particular situation.

Help you with non-financial goals

A financial advisor is able to help you beyond just your investment goals. There is more to financial advice than just dollars and cents.

One-stop shop for financial services

Of course, working with an advisor like Rowling & Associates also gives you a complete “one-stop-shop” array of services including tax planning and tax return preparation.

There is a value to advice over and above the built-in costs of investing. It’s a choice that each investor can make based on specific needs and wants. I, personally, use the services of an attorney to prepare estate documents rather than filling out downloaded forms from the internet. I might also go for a hybrid approach – looking up my symptoms on the internet, but still going to a doctor. For me, personal interaction with a trusted professional is essential.