ORLANDO, FLA. – Robo advisors on the rise? Don't worry about it, says Tash Elwyn, president of Raymond James & Associates, the firm's traditional employee broker-dealer.
"Robos are not the threat that people fear," says Elwyn, who welcomes the development of the technology.
"I think it will create better client experiences and value for those clients who prefer that kind of direct relationship. And as an American I think we should value better financial outcomes for more people," Elwyn says.
But the firm does not intend to join the herd of financial services firms, like Charles Schwab, in developing a robo advisor.
"In plain English: We are not developing a robo advisor to compete with our financial advisors. We are convinced that not only is advice here to stay, but human-driven advice is here to stay and we can continue to make a big difference in people's lives," he says.
Robo advisors and technological change in general have been on the minds of advisors and industry leaders for a while, dominating the conversations at several recent conferences as more robos are launched either by established firms or startups.
In recent weeks, CLS Investments and Riskalyze went live with Autopilot, a robo hybrid while FTJ FundChoice launched Market Movement Strategies. And in the independent space, Schwab made waves with its robo offering for RIAs.
- Read more: Schwab Rolls Out Robo Offering for RIAs
Elwyn, delivering remarks here at the opening of Raymond James' summer development conference for its employee advisors, reminded attendees that technology is always changing the industry. He pointed to now-obsolete tools like the quotron machine, noting that until the early 1990s clients had to call an advisor if they wanted a real time stock price quote.
He told advisors that Raymond James is staying focused on leveraging technology to help liberate them from mundane tasks and stay focused on serving their clients.
Elwyn, on the sidelines of the conference, says the rise of robos is an opportunity.
"If we can automate, then what gets exciting to me is how much capacity advisors will have, to let them do what they do best, and which robos can't do, which is to engage human to human," Elwyn says.
He adds that the industry is at an inflection point.
"We can really take the experience and the outcomes that we create for our clients to a whole new level. Much of that is possible because of the underpinnings that technology provides," he says.
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