Robo-advisers are here. What’s a human financial planner to do?


Please don’t call them robo-advisers.

“That’s obviously a derogatory term,” says Adam Nash, president of Wealthfront.

He prefers the term automated investment services. So does Betterment and SigFig, two other leading wealth management firms that use algorithms instead of humans to manage billions of dollars in individual portfolios. With software running the show, the tech startups can charge clients drastically lower fees.

This sounds like a mortal threat to the nation’s 300,000 human financial advisers, an occupation that ranks high on “best jobs” lists for its good pay and work-life balance. And many analysts agree the sector is ripe for disruption, the same kind now shaking up the nation’s taxi fleets.