A Robo by Any Other Name is Still a Robo

If you read FintekNews regularly, by now you know us.  We have to be smart alecks while celebrating fintech innovation at the same time.  We’re the hand that bites you and loves you, too!  So, when we heard about Raymond James’ new robo, we did a double take.  NO NO NO, they said all last year, we will NEVER do a robo.  We are about PEOPLE!  Then quietly, they announced earlier this week that they are offering a new kinda sorta ROBO, but they DON’T USE THE WORD ROBO in their press release.  Yet the rest of the media world called it a robo, and we are, too.  Anyway, all that aside, we applaud them for adding this new technology offering to their stack, and the position they are taking is that their new digital platform “Connected Advisor” augments their advisors.  Good move, especially given that competitor robo-advisor Betterment has decided to hire more HUMANS to go after HNW, higher yielding clients.  It’s a brave new world out there, folks, and you gotta stay ahead of the ever changing curve. 
(Cindy Taylor/Publisher)

‘Building on its long-held position as a pioneer and industry leader in financial advisor-driven technology, Raymond James is revealing a strategy that bridges an already powerful advisor-centric technology infrastructure with collaborative and client-facing digital tools that together comprise its “Connected Advisor” digital advice platform.

The platform fully reflects the firm’s advisor-centric business model, and includes already-released client-facing tools that support digital communications and online collaboration, as well as new capabilities to meet a range of client needs. The new initiatives center around robo-advisor-like technologies, as well as data-driven insights that will help advisors address the more complex needs of higher-net-worth clients.

“This significant, multi-year ongoing investment ensures we continue to be an industry leader in advisor-oriented technology,” said CEO Paul Reilly. “While many industry alternatives seek to disintermediate advisors, Connected Advisor will support advisors and their commitment to serving clients.”

Connected Advisor is focused on three key areas:

  • Greater automation to help advisors more efficiently manage their businesses and their clients’ basic investment management requirements so they can spend more time on building relationships and more fully understanding client needs.
  • Increased collaboration through tools that support online communication and information sharing between advisors and their clients.
  • Enhanced sophistication of proactive financial solutions through the use of big data to provide advisors with insights into their practices and their clients’ needs.

“We are advancing a strategy that has become clear as we’ve spoken with advisors and clients, observed evolving preferences, and watched new technology advances unfold at a rapid pace,” said Executive Vice President of Technology and Operations Bella Allaire. “Our advisors and clients require – and deserve – an even higher level of service and support as they confront new multi-generational challenges, changing regulatory standards and increasingly complex financial needs.”

Among the tools available or rolling out over the coming months are digitally driven data collection, discovery and proposal systems; secure cloud storage and consolidated access to important documents; enhanced mobile capabilities; sophisticated goal planning and monitoring tools; advanced analytics capabilities; and investment options for multigenerational households and varying financial situations.

“We’re focused on providing a platform that reinforces the value of advisors’ affiliation with Raymond James by providing easy-to-use, customizable tools that help them better serve their clients and grow their businesses,” said Chief Information Officer Vin Campagnoli. “These resources will help our advisors increase engagement with clients, improve their understanding of client needs as life, market and economic conditions change, and support the long-term financial planning that is at the core of our offerings.”

Many of the efficiency and collaboration tools at the foundation of the Connected Advisor platform are in place, with the robo-advisor-like technology and data insight features expected to be rolled out in 2017, and other planned enhancements scheduled into next year.

“We’re approaching this as we always do,” said Campagnoli. “We are thoughtfully and deliberately moving forward with a focus on ensuring advisors and clients understand and are leveraging these new offerings, and that we’re listening to their feedback and adjusting to ensure we’re fully meeting their needs.

“I like to say we build our technology tools ‘from the mind of the advisor’ and this platform does that, helping support their already strong client relationships by creating stronger connections and, in turn, better meeting clients’ increasingly complex financial needs.”’