The Rise of Robo-Advisors – Automating Investment Management for Individuals

Artificial Intelligence still has some way to go before replacing human advisors entirely, yet it can serve as an invaluable asset in helping individuals save and invest.

Robo-advisors can be inexpensive and user-friendly financial tools that may even aid with tax efficiency; however, experts remain wary about their returns.


Robo-advisors come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s essential that you carefully evaluate them all to see which best meets your needs. Consider minimum investment amounts, fees (such as annual management and account closure charges), hybrid services that enable direct interactions with advisors as well as hybrid offerings with human advisors.

Robo-advisors ask about your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before crafting a portfolio to achieve them.

These portfolios typically utilize ETFs that provide broad diversification with low expenses, taking market movements into account to rebalance when it strays too far from its target allocation. Furthermore, tax loss harvesting allows investors to take advantage of short-term capital gain recognition restrictions; this strategy allows ETF holders to sell one and immediately purchase another in the same tax class without incurring capital gains tax penalties.


Robo-advisors use technology to collect, aggregate, and process data in order to offer investment management services at lower costs than traditional financial advisors. Instead of charging commission per trade like traditional advisors do, they typically charge either a flat fee or percentage of assets managed instead.

Robo-advisors use a questionnaire to assess each client’s risk tolerance, investment goals, and time horizon. Once complete, they use ETFs that meet these parameters as part of a portfolio design that they manage by rebalancing or tax-loss harvesting for tax savings in taxable accounts.

Some robo-advisors provide hybrid services with human advisors available to assist with more complex requests. While this option is suitable for investors with limited investing experience, it may not suit those wanting a more hands-on approach. Robo-advisors may not be ideal when it comes to tax situations, estate planning, trust fund administration and retirement planning and they often cannot account for unexpected events like job loss or unexpected expenses.


An automated advisor (robo-advisor) can save investors both time and expense in researching individual stocks and mutual funds individually, while at the same time providing access to an expansive selection of investment options not typically offered by traditional brokers. Robo-advisors typically utilize ETFs and index funds as part of their portfolio, investing according to each investor’s risk tolerance and goals while having their team monitor markets and each underlying investment, to make sure your portfolio remains diversified.

Most robo-advisors provide users with a questionnaire designed to assess their needs, risk tolerance, retirement date and goal; various account types (taxable, retirement and trust accounts); value added features like daily tax loss harvesting and rebalancing are also provided by some. If trading or comprehensive financial plans are your goals or you require flexibility of brokerage accounts are the way forward then perhaps robo-advisors are not for you – although some do offer services beyond traditional advisors such as insurance and estate planning solutions.


Robo-advisors typically ask a series of questions in a questionnaire to understand your goals and risk tolerance, then use this data to construct a portfolio consisting of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds that is regularly rebalanced to remain near its target allocation.

Robo-advisors provide many valuable additional features, including tax-loss harvesting. This strategy seeks to minimize short-term capital gains by selling securities that reduce short-term gains elsewhere; however, before adopting this tactic in taxable accounts it’s crucial to first consult the IRS wash-sale rule and other considerations before doing so.

Robo-advisors can be great solutions for individuals who prefer automated investment management but lack the time or desire to research individual stocks and funds independently. While some robo-advisors offer human advisor support, others provide concierge service management of your account to help meet financial goals more quickly.

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