RIAs know how service-intensive their business is, and robo-advisors are that finding out as well. Some robos have as many employees as What’s App, and no real revenues to show. That doesn’t mean one of them won’t eventually design a better mousetrap.

“Technology is overestimated in the short term and underestimated in the long term,” Wallman said. Advisors should expect robo-advisors to keep improving their services in areas like tax-loss harvesting and financial planning.

Moreover, regulators are likely to view robo-advisors favorably, Wallman said, because they offer consistent solutions. Moreover, “they don’t have a bad day, they don’t steal or break custody rules.”

In theory, these new entrants’ entire value proposition centers on offering services more efficiently at a lower cost, but questions arise when clients’ issues grow more complex. When it comes to advanced problems in areas like retirement or estate planning, Wallman expects technology providers to offer different levels of services and price it accordingly.

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