We’ve all seen the continued hype about robo-advisors in the financial news. Most of the large financial institutions finally rolled out competitive offerings to the early players, Wealthfront and Betterment.

With these developments, we’ve also seen the robo vs human advising pendulum of media coverage swing back to the merits of human advising.  We continue to believe that people are best served with a hybrid offering. What this means is that you explore online first, but expert financial advisers are there to answer your follow-up questions.

Why is the combination of online + human is a better solution?

There are several reasons why the hybrid of online and human works best for many of us:

1. A combined online/human service is usually more affordable than traditional services.  Automating something as complex and nuanced as personal financial planning is far from easy. The algorithm behind SUM180 is firmly grounded in The Alliance of Comprehensive Planners™ (formerly the Cambridge System™) approach to financial planning, and took several years to codify. In effect, it puts top quality financial planning within reach for everyone, including the people who need it most.

2. For nervous newcomers to financial planning, a hybrid service offers the right balance of privacy and support. If you need a non-threatening way to approach the complicated task of building financial security, the robo approach provides the opportunity to build a comfort level in private before taking the next step. You can get a comprehensive view of your financial picture, then research topics and questions, and gain a basic understanding of your options before reaching out to others to implement next steps.

3. Money is inherently emotional, so financial planning can never be fully automated. No matter how accurately an automated system assesses your personal data and circumstances, there are always intangibles to consider in deciding what to do next. The best (human) advisers will gather all your information and then explore choices with you. These advisers will tell you that the second level, deeper questions that come up in a face-to-face follow-up discussion will be the most important for identifying lasting insights and setting priorities for a successful path forward.

Entirely online financial services are not able to make this emotional connection with clients. Combining the benefits of online advice with human advice, however, delivers the best of both. Inevitably, as you travel on your financial journey, you will have follow-up questions – and you need to know that you will get answers as part of the service.

4. A hybrid service saves you time (and more money). Not every part of financial planning can be automated, but automation can do a lot to make even the non-automated parts of financial planning process more efficient and convenient. At SUM180, for example, any follow-on consultation with an adviser is fueled by a very comprehensive set of data and analysis generated from your computer-generated Plan. As a result, your “on” time with your adviser is as productive as possible. The adviser is up to speed and able to immediately explore choices, and associated feelings and concerns to support the best possible outcome for each client.

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