fintech icon on abstract financial technology background represent Blockchain and Fintech Investment Financial Internet Technology Concept
© Monsit Jangariyawong / 123RF Stock Photo

Q:How do you ensure your practice can compete with automated advice?

Nick Bakish

Nick Bakish

director of wealth management, Richardson GMP, Montreal

It’s about differentiation.

We use tools similar to those used by robo-advisors, like ETFs, to lower costs. But we differentiate ourselves with value-added services, like tax planning, retirement, estate planning, mortgages and insurance.

Further, because we have capital market access through our investment bank retail distribution arm, we can provide products not available online, such as private placements in commercial real estate and venture capital.

Peter Boronkay

Peter Boronkay

partner, HMB Financial Team, Raymond James in Vancouver, B.C.

All advisors, not just robo-advisors, should use technology to help clients. But we can offer more.

My clients benefit from services including quarterly reviews and educational materials, such as articles or books. I tailor materials to the client, whether they are financial or lifestyle related— for example, [sharing books like] The Wealthy Barber Returns or Younger Next Year.

Clients often have complex needs that can take a team to service—something a robo-advisor can’t offer. I delegate expertise where needed and recommend complementary professionals, especially our estate planner, who may identify tax-effective insurance solutions.

Sybil Verch

Sybil Verch

senior vice-president, national director of wealth management, Raymond James in Victoria, B.C.

One of the most valuable services a financial advisor can offer, which a robo-advisor can’t, is handholding during volatility. Comfort calls are crucial.

I also address special needs a robo-advisor can’t—a child with a disability, or client who needs complex estate planning or tax-saving strategies. A conservative client’s inflationary risk may also be overlooked by a robo.

To use an analogy: when automated tax software was launched, that didn’t eliminate the need for an accountant. People still go to accountants because they know filing a tax return is only one element. Everyone has unique situations that technology won’t uncover or address.

Agree? Disagree? Have your own question or answer? Write us at

by Michelle Schriver, assistant editor of Advisor Group.