In surveys, there’s a pervasive belief among financial advisors that robo-advisors are not a competitive threat. Indeed, financial advisors probably have nothing to worry about, as long as they fall within a certain set of parameters:

• They are at least 45 years old with a clientele that’s just as old—or older.

• They are looking to run out their careers and are not concerned with transferring their clientele to another flesh-and-blood financial advisor (succession planning is for losers).

• They are not especially concerned about the fee compression that’s being brought on by an increasing number of low-cost providers.

• They are not interested in meaningfully growing a client base full of tech-savvy entrepreneurs and investors.

• They are looking to exit the business within the next five to 10 years, before the arrival of more sophisticated robo-advisors.

Notwithstanding the outlook for this exclusive group of advisors, the robo-advisor trend is clearly gaining momentum. Cognitive computing and related technologies are going to force financial advisors, wealth managers and multifamily offices—anyone providing investment advisory services—to extensively restructure their business.

The current iteration of robo-advisors is limited and therefore has limited appeal, but this will change as technology evolves. Future robo-advisors will be able to create portfolios incorporating all asset classes and investment vehicles, manage taxes and match the functionality of today’s most sophisticated multifamily offices.

It will not happen immediately, but the writing is on the wall. The “ostrich strategy” embraced by many financial advisors can be very effective, as long as these advisors are comfortable with lower fees and realize their careers are headed for extinction. They also need to be confident they can run out their careers before the industry transforms.

However, financial advisors who are looking to build greater businesses and have a longer time horizon can use the robo-advisor trend to their advantage. The technology can be used to rationalize operations, driving down costs while expanding offerings—a way to concentrate on high-value deliverables that command premium pricing.

For astute, motivated financial advisors and their firms, the evolution of the robo-advisor will translate into much more profitable and commanding advisory businesses. For the deniers, the evolution of the robo-advisor will eventually lead to them saying, “Will provide investment advice for food.”