Edelman: Robo Advisors Don’t Own Future

November 17, 2014

Robo advisors and ‘old school’ human advisors are likely to share the future in one comprehensive spectrum of services.

Ric Edelman, the closest thing to a superstar in the world of financial advisors, can’t wait to go mano a mano with Adam Nash, CEO of Wealthfront, at ETF.com’s upcoming Inside ETFs conference in January.

Edelman heads up Edelman Financial Services, an ETF-centric advisory firm with about $14 billion in assets under management. Nash heads up Wealthfront, the most successful of the so-called robo-advisory firms that use computer algorithms to run investment portfolios. Nash’s firm now has more than $1 billion in assets.

ETF.com Managing Editor Olly Ludwig caught up with Edelman to discuss his face-to-face meeting that will be moderated by ETF.com President Matt Hougan. Inside ETFs is being held at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida from Jan. 25 to Jan. 28.

ETF.com: What was your first thought when you found out you were going to be paired with Adam Nash, and have an opportunity to talk about the nature of the advisory business today?

Ric Edelman: I thought it was clever of you folks to put together two of the most prominent players in the consumer advisory space who are coming at it from completely different directions.

ETF.com: That said, you’re prepared, to some extent, to integrate some of these technological pieces into your business that Wealthfront is championing?

Edelman: You’re half right. We have our own robo advisor, Edelman Online. We do everything at Edelman Online that Betterment and Wealthfront and the others aim to do as well. We have investors who are able to access the full breadth of our investment management services completely online without any human intervention—where they receive highly sophisticated, diversified, globally diversified portfolios with highly sophisticated, strategic rebalancing strategies applied.

And if they want it, they can have access to our financial advisors at no additional cost to help them with the full breadth and array of personal finance issues.

ETF.com: Now, when you do a pullback—whether it’s what Wealthfront or Betterment are up to, and for that matter, Edelman Financial—we’re talking about a pretty disciplined, ETF-centric variation on the modern portfolio theory theme.

Edelman: Correct. And I would say additionally infused, at least in our case, by behavioral finance and neuro-economics.

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