The Fiduciary Rule and Financial Technology

It didn’t take the DOL ruling (“Final Rule”) or a report by Cerulli Associates for blooom co-founders, Chris Costello and Kevin Conard, to understand that more than 70% of investors are missing out on access to much needed investment advice. According to reporting in WealthManagement.com the new Cerulli Associates report indicates that approximately 90 million households in the U.S. have less than $100,000 in investable assets (approximately 70% of investors), which is a threshold some advisors are using to judge applicable clients.

The robo-advisor space has been able to demonstrate that technology not only provides the ability to scale professional financial advice, but also the ability to do so at the fiduciary level. In a recent Time Op-Ed piece, The Retirement Risk We All Share, blooom’s president, Greg Smith, explained that presently, in a world where pensions are gone and the future of social security is an enigma, too much is riding on employer-sponsored accounts not to implement a fiduciary standard around their management. Pointedly, he states, “[i]n a world where we are left to fend for ourselves in retirement, the stakes are too high not to at least make sure that someone is legally obligated to tell you the right thing to do.” And robo-advisors are positioning themselves to be exactly that “someone”.

And yet, some in the industry continue to suggest that a “robo” cannot replace that “someone” and therefore, will ultimately fail. The key to success with the so-called robo provider is speaking in a language the average investor can understand and making available direct lines of communication with the client. Investors, at all asset levels, want to know their best interests are put first and that there is a trusted source taking care of their nest egg.

Reports such as those from Cerulli Associates, only underscore that the Final Rule is urgently needed. If that 70% were already getting the best advice from their adviser, then why are they now being abandoned as a result of the Final Rule?

While the initial implementation of the Final Rule may kick up some dust in the financial world, once the dust settles, the financial community and those 70% of investors that are underserved will be better for it.

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