How Some Savvy FAs are Overtaking ‘Basic’ Robos

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Robo advice for mass-affluent investors keeps evolving. But brick-and-mortar advisors aren’t standing still. In fact, some traditional FAs are taking into their own hands ways to automate more sophisticated types of holistic planning – from philanthropy to tax strategies and healthcare issues.

“We’d all like to work with 200 families if possible and create more scale in our practices,” says David Edwards, president of Heron Financial Group in New York, which manages $300 million. “But most of our legacy technology platforms are only built to let us comfortably handle maybe 80-90 clients at a time.”

He’s now exploring different online tools to help expand his account aggregation and asset allocation processes. “There are many new off-the-shelf software packages that you can integrate together to take the busywork out of the comprehensive financial planning process,” Edwards says.

For instance, Heron Financial uses a mobile app, Mobile Assistant, that helps Edwards turn client meetings into easy-to-disseminate notes in Redtail, the firm’s CRM system.

It also feeds into Edwards' efforts to automate client report generation. “Previously if I had meetings at 9:30, 11:30 and 2:30, by end of day I couldn’t remember what I had agreed to do,” he says.

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