Robo Advice

Sean Sevey |

Robo advisors offer several benefits, such as low fees, automated portfolio management, and simplified investment options. However, there are a few potential downsides associated with using robo advisors. Here are some considerations:

1. Limited Personalization: Robo advisors typically use algorithms to provide investment recommendations based on predetermined risk profiles. While this approach works for many investors, it may not consider specific individual circumstances, goals, or preferences. Personalization is often more limited compared to working with a human financial advisor who can tailor investment strategies to specific needs.

2. Lack of Flexibility: Robo advisors generally offer a limited range of investment options. They tend to focus on exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds, which may not suit every investor's preferences or strategies. If you have specific investment preferences, such as investing in individual stocks or bonds, a robo advisor might not offer the flexibility you desire.

3. Inability to Handle Complex Situations: Robo advisors are generally designed for relatively straightforward investment scenarios. They may not be equipped to handle complex financial situations, such as tax optimization, estate planning, or navigating significant life events like divorce or inheritance. These situations often require expert human advice and personalized solutions.

4. Market Volatility and Emotional Factors: Robo advisors are programmed to follow predefined algorithms, typically based on long-term strategies and historical market data. During periods of significant market volatility or unexpected events, emotions and market sentiment can have a substantial impact. Robo advisors may not account for these factors or adjust strategies accordingly, potentially leading to suboptimal investment decisions.

5. Inability to handle complex tax situations: If you have complex tax circumstances, such as self-employment income, rental properties, or significant capital gains/losses, robo advisors may not provide the level of expertise and guidance that a human advisor can offer. Human advisors can help navigate complex tax situations, maximize deductions, and employ advanced tax planning strategies.

6. Cash Drag: The negative impact of cash drag stems from the fact that cash typically generates minimal returns compared to other asset classes like stocks or bonds. Cash holdings may earn interest, but the returns are generally lower than what can be achieved through investment in higher-yielding securities. As a result, the overall portfolio return is diluted by the underperforming cash component.

It's important to note that the relevance of these negatives may vary depending on individual preferences, financial goals, and the complexity of one's financial situation. For some investors, the benefits and cost-effectiveness of robo advisors may outweigh these drawbacks.