Advisers' launch of 'robo' services seen as bold move

Some flesh-and-blood financial advisers are competing head-on with so-called “robos” by providing their own low-cost automated investment advice services.

David Edwards, chief executive of New York-based Heron Financial Group, is one.

Since September, Edwards has spent about $40,000 and countless hours on a new, low-fee digital advice platform aimed at younger clients who want to handle their investments online.

There is reason for traditional advisers to worry about competition from "robo-advisers," which use algorithms to manage portfolios at a fraction of a human adviser's typical 1 percent fee. Assets managed by the automated services, which include Wealthfront Inc, Betterment and Charles Schwab Corp, will increase at least three-fold this year, to as much as $60 billion from $16 billion, according to a March report by Aite Group, a Boston-based research firm.

Edwards' offering will use an algorithm from Betterment Institutional, a digital platform for advisers from Betterment LLC, to select investments and tweak portfolios. Edwards will charge clients 0.75 percent of their portfolio, instead of the 1 percent and up he charges for traditional stock and bond picking and other services.

Read the entire article at Reuters.