This is the last article of a six part series to help simplify your search for a financial advisor.  Our fifth installment discussed 5 Key Areas to Consider When You Interview Potential Advisors

“Robo-advisors” are online investing platforms that provide automated portfolio management services based on algorithms that combine your age and risk tolerance, among other inputs. The platform decides how to invest your money, without human intervention. Usually, these investments are index funds or ETFs.

Robo-advisors’ online platforms let you add and withdraw funds, and make periodic changes to your asset allocation, or the mix of investments in your portfolio. In other words, all the basic account functions you might need to set up a simple portfolio. But if you want to talk to someone or need personal advice, you are generally out of luck (though a few robo-advisors do route investors to a call center).

Robo-advisors can be a low-cost, effective way to invest. For obvious reasons, robo-advisors are typically less expensive than flesh-and-blood financial advisors. As a result, they’re ideally suited for people without extensive portfolios who are looking for “set and forget” investments.

A robo-advisor works best if you don’t mind taking a bit of a backseat in your investing, rather than actively trading or tinkering with your investments, and if you won’t need to retrieve your cash for a while.

A “real” financial advisor is, well, real. This person typically learns about your life, your goals, your dreams and your objectives – not just how much money you have and where it is. A good financial advisor will ask tough questions, encourage you to talk about your concerns and review your portfolio for hidden risks. One of the most important things a financial advisor can do is talk people off ledges by being an objective voice of reason during stock market swings or unexpected life events.

“Robo-advisors” are online investing platforms that provide automated portfolio management services based on algorithms that combine your age and risk tolerance, among other inputs. The platform decides how to invest your money, without human intervention. Usually, these investments are index funds or ETFs. Robo-advisors’ online platforms let you add and withdraw funds, and make periodic changes to your asset allocation, or the mix of investments in your portfolio. In other words, all the basic account functions you might need to set up a simple portfolio. But if you want to talk to someone or need personal advice, you are generally out of luck (though a few robo-advisors do route investors to a call center).

So, can you get by with only a robo-advisor?

That depends on:

  • How actively you want to manage your investments: There’s a limit to how hands-on you can be if you use a robo-advisor since they typically offer a limited universe of investing choices. Robo-advisors’ recommendations are based on formulas and algorithms rather than conscious, personalized decision-making, so if you crave control over your portfolio, you might do better with a traditional financial advisor who can talk to you, answer all your questions and create a customized portfolio based on your preferences and needs.
  • If you can handle market ups and downs: If you are tempted to tinker with your portfolio when the market lurches, a human might be best for you; an advisor can keep you from panicking during market volatility. If you’re always cool-headed and not prone to panicking when the stock market drops then this won’t be a problem if you select a robo-advisor.
  • If you need other services, like estate or retirement planning: In addition to helping build your nest egg, many financial advisors offer services like budgeting and financial planning, charting out retirement income, setting up college funds and more. Often, they’ll also do things to help you without charge, such as business introductions or helping you find other, trusted financial professionals like CPAs.
  • How much you value a human connection: A financial advisor can make wide-ranging recommendations for your financial life, based on their knowledge of you. This can include which credit card to get, strategies for paying down your debt, where hidden financial risks are in your portfolio, which investments are right for your life stage, and even financial decisions based on your morals, values and personality.

Thank you for sticking with this 6 part series on GuideVine’s Definitive Guide to Finding a Financial Advisor.  If you’re just joining in now, here’s what we covered:

Article 1: When Do You Need a Financial Advisor?

Article 2: I Need a Financial Advisor – What’s Next?

Article 3: What Types of Financial Advisor Fees Should I Be Aware of?

Article 4: What Should I Consider When Looking for a Fiduciary?

Article 5: 5 Key Areas to Consider When You Interview Potential Advisors

Article 6: What’s the Deal with Robo-Advisors?

We hope you this information helpful!

If you’re interested in being matched with a financial advisor please contact our GuideVine Concierge today and we will assist you!


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From time to time, the team at GuideVine highlights certain topical videos and content from expert financial advisors. We find these helpful and hope you will to for your managing personal finances. To learn more, you can view and find potential advisors through our advisor matching service and listings, ask one-on-one personal finance questions to these experts, and view “How to” videos on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJopbGDSgc1szGZaoUPqTrA).