We asked several industry leaders to speculate on what the wealth management industry will look like in the year 2037. This one is from Ryan Beach, CEO of CLS Investments.
While I don’t have a crystal ball, it’s safe to say the industry will look very different 20 years from now. Below are just a few things to expect:
Asset Classes: Twenty years ago, there were two main asset classes that mattered the most: stocks and bonds. Over the last two decades, there has been an explosion of asset classes, and that will likely continue over the next 20 years. Some will be highly correlated with each other as the markets are sliced into ever-thinner pieces. In addition, new uncorrelated asset classes and factors will emerge because of technology and global trade shifts. Our investment categorization will need to evolve. It is likely that historical patterns of performance will change on a much more rapid scale.
Machine Learning: Today’s robo advisors are really just tools for the self-directed investor—there is very little individual advising to be found in them. But by 2037, “machine learning” is likely to have progressed to the point where Watson, Siri and Alexa will attempt to provide financial advice to our children and “talk” them through the emotions of a market cycle. However, just like Siri’s recommendation for the best pizza in town will often fall drastically short compared to a tip from a friend who knows your tastes, machine interactions in 2037 will still likely fall short of human coaching. When our children become adults, they will still crave validation and understanding from other humans, including givers of financial advice. Getting tailored investment advice from Siri in 2037 will be just as satisfying as asking Siri today, “Do you like me?” Siri gives the right answer, but at the end of the day you know she’s just programmed to say it.
Technology: In 20 years or so, self-directed investors who choose not to use an advisor will have a dazzling array of choices to help them implement their own investments. However, technology in the DIY space will continue at the same pace as the “do it for me” segment of the market. Advisors will have institutional-level versions of all the new tools available to the self-directed crowd, but additionally there will be productivity advancements letting advisors deliver their services across a wider range of clients. Products like Watson, Siri and Alexa might not be the best at untangling human emotions, but they will be amazing office assistants for advisors.