Josh Brown in a recent blog post said:
"Social intelligence cannot be programmed. Hard-earned trust cannot be arbed or gamified. And, at its highest levels, empathy cannot be machine-learnt. Great advisors get into this business because they care and that is why they flourish. Advisors who do not care, or who peddle one-size-fits-all solutions where nuance is important, can absolutely be replaced by software. And they should be. ... "
Josh's senior colleague Barry Ritholtz found a very similar point from a totally different field of endeavor – linking to an article about “pilots” of RPAs – Remotely Piloted Aircraft
"RPA operators were not satisfied with one-way connections with other humans and machines to accomplish a mission," Cullen writes. "They sought interactive dialog with them in a form they could anticipate, understand, and evaluate so they could influence events on the battlefield and transform themselves into war fighters." Source: Fast Company
In other words, the "air sense" or situational awareness that RPA pilots and sensors develop must go hand in hand with social awareness.
David Deming, associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University, has concluded that across America, the fastest-growing jobs are highly technical and highly social. "I think of social skill conceptually as measuring your ability to read and react to other people," In contrast, he writes, "Jobs that require high levels of analytical and mathematical reasoning but low levels of social interaction
In contrast, he writes, "Jobs that require high levels of analytical and mathematical reasoning but low levels of social interaction have fared especially poorly.”
Some time ago, there were some TV commercials showing people trying to do brain surgery on themselves ... something obviously ridiculous and a very bad idea ... exactly the point of the commercial.
It is clearly true that technological / internet "tools" enable someone proficient in computers to manage their own investments / retirement funds without using a human professional of any kind.
Bruce's takeaway: Just because technology exists to do something does not mean it's a good idea.
A colleague from a while back was an amateur tournament-level golfer and always used a Titleist 4. He used the number "4" to remind himself that
- His family
- His faith
- His work
- Came ahead of his Golf
All of us set our own priorities in these important matters. I'd be the first to admit that taking care of a client's health is clearly more important than being a Financial Advisor. I also greatly respect those who put their faith way up there, so I respect the work of the Clergy. Making sure that clients and their families can retire in dignity if not in actual comfort ... I feel ... is very important work.
You can do all your retirement investing on line and never speak to another human ... except maybe for a Help Desk technician. Even if you speak to a licensed professional ... even a CFP(r) ... that person in unable to help you, much less at the level of a Fiduciary, unless that professional has all your facts -- and your values and goals.
As Josh said above,
Advisors who do not care, or who peddle one-size-fits-all solutions where nuance is important, can absolutely be replaced by software. And they should be. ... "