Financial services are fighting robo advisors with emotional intelligence

Automation is hitting industries hard across the board. It is not just low level clerical jobs that are being lost, but entire businesses that are threatened. In response, many companies are retooling for the new economic era that technology has ushered in. The outcome of that fight for survival has at least one clear winner: the consumer.

Financial services felt the pinch of automation before many other industries. Robo advisors began to leach customers from more traditional financial institutions by offering similar services—tax filing, investing, and expense tracking—for a fraction of the price. For many consumers, particularly those who grew up in the digital age, not having to talk about their finances with a stranger was nice, too.

But today financial services businesses are betting that the human factor is actually one of the greatest advantages they have in slowing the advance of automation into other areas of the industry. David Miller, founder and CEO of PeachCap, explains, “Making decisions about your finances involves a lot of emotions. These choices can have an enormous impact on your life! But making emotional decisions about money leads to mistakes and miscalculations. A wealth manager’s job is really to manage emotions and help the client to construct their own financial emotional intelligence.”

In this way, growing numbers of professionals in financial services are following in the path of other industries—doctors, teachers, and lawyers to name a few. A doctor doesn’t just perform a surgery; they counsel their patient about making the right decision and help them to filter through their emotions. Teachers don’t just teach; they inspire. And lawyers don’t just argue a case; they support a client in a difficult time.

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