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Robo Fanboy Wars Are Here

Everbody's Kung Fu fighting ... | jack191/iStock/Thinkstock

As robo advisors grow in popularity among mainstream investors, it is perhaps inevitable that the two largest companies, Wealthfront and Betterment, have attracted fanboys willing to argue for their preferred product. A recent article written by a LinkedIn employee (published on LinkedIn, of course) claimed Wealthfront is the only robo advisor worthy of an investor’s money. He called Betterment’s service “horrendous” and concludes, “there is absolutely no reason to utilize Betterment.” His reasoning is that Betterment’s management imitates Wealthfront instead of leading, the financial experience at Betterment is behind Wealthfront's and Betterment’s code is subpar for not being able to match Wealthfront’s portfolio performance. The article made waves on social media and ignited debates between fans of both companies. Jackson Moses, the executive recruiting associate at LinkedIn who authored the anti-Betterment rant, eventually deleted the article from the "professional social network." Like the iPhone vs. Android or PlayStation vs. Xbox battles that rage on Twitter threads, Facebook pages and blog comments sections across the Internet, it seems the robo-fanboy wars have arrived. 

Wave of the Future?

We're still waiting. | CurvaBezier/iStock/Thinkstock

A third of investors say they see ETFs as the core investment product in their portfolio in the future, according to Schwab's annual ETF Investor Study. Among millennials, that is even higher with 77 percent planning to use ETFs as their core investment in the future. Overall, over half of the 1,000 ETF investors surveyed say they are currently invested in an all-ETF portfolio. And about 31 percent of current ETF investors say they plan to increase their allotment of the investment class over the next year.

Who's Using Smart Beta

Making it look easy. | Monkey Business Images/Stockbroker/Thinkstock

Advisors who use "smart beta" are typically younger, have a higher share of AUM in ETFs and alternative investments and have practices that extend beyond investment selection, asset allocation and financial planning, according to a new FTSE Russell U.S. survey. RIAs are also more likely to be aware of smart beta than regional, independent and wirehouse advisors. "Factor-based and alternatively-weighted indexes have transformed the investment landscape," said Rolf Agather, managing director of North America Research for FTSE Russell. "It is clear that retail advisors are embracing investment products based on these indexes as a way of incorporating new ideas into their clients' portfolios."

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With the regulatory environment rapidly increasing in complexity across industries, compliance professionals are beginning to require specific training and education in order to keep up with the changes. In response, Fordham University School of Law is now offering the nation’s first LLM degree in corporate compliance. The school’s site notes, “Students will explore the role of in-house counsel, the corporate compliance office, and the elements of compliance, including risk assessment, attorney-client privilege, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, global codes of conduct, crisis management, deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, and corporate social responsibility.” As industries, financial and otherwise, become more complex, this sort of specialization is becoming the norm.

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