Disruptive technologies are likely to radically alter the financial services landscape, rendering today’s robo advisors obsolete while producing huge challenges for investment advisors targeting the coveted income and wealth demographic, the so-called 1 percent. So said Edelman Financial founder and CEO Ric Edelman, speaking last week at an Asset Managers Showcase event in Boston sponsored by Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines.

Edelman’s predictions were based upon his experience with Singularity University, where he is an investor and participant. Singularity boasts such faculty as Google futurologist Ray Kurzweil and claims its mission is to "educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges."

Anyone looking at the financials of today’s robo advisors can’t help but be struck by the similarities between them and the dot-com companies of the late 1990s. The most glaring problem is the burn rate, according to Edelman. Even the most successful robo advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront are hemorrhaging cash. Still, Edelman thinks the next generation of robo advisors will take the technologies of the current group and find ways to achieve economic viability.

The pace of changes we are about to witness has few parallels in modern socio-economic history, Edelman said. “We all thought [the world of] ‘The Jetsons’ would be here in 200 years,” he said, adding it would be closer to 20 years.

“We will have self-driving automobiles in 10 years. The odds are very high a 4- or 5-year-old child [today] will never drive a car,” said Edelman, adding that his Mercedes already brakes automatically.

Google and GM already have self-driving cars. What holding them back? “Regulation,” Edelman said. “They can’t figure out who to sue when something goes wrong.”

At present, so-called 3D printing is in the process of causing a far-reaching upheaval in the manufacturing sector. Edelman himself was wearing a pair of Nike sneakers where everything but the sole was 3D printed. “Soon you will be able to 3D-print it and not go to the store.”

The implications of developments like these are profound for both Asian manufacturers and U.S. companies that work with Nike. Fedex, for example, is Nike’s biggest customer.

Today, 4D printing is underway but the radical changes will come with 5D printing. Edelman noted that the latter technology would permit people to turn their briefcases into golf clubs and then change it back to a briefcase.

First « 1 2 » Next