A Publication of WTVP

The use of robo-advisors is on the rise among investors looking for an alternative way to get help with financial planning. In fact, a report by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney predicted that robo-advisors will be managing 5.6 percent of Americans’ investment assets by 2020, up from 0.5 percent when the report was done in 2015.

Despite the intriguing name, don’t imagine that robo-advisors resemble something from a science fiction movie, with lights flashing as they dole out warnings about dangers to your portfolio. Instead, a robo-advisor is an online wealth-management service that uses a software program to provide automated advice based on an algorithm.

Robo-advisors have their merits. Clients save money, at least on the front end, because fees are usually lower. The required minimum investment also usually is low, which could be helpful for young investors who haven’t had time to build wealth. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, it might work for you. But is it something that saves you money for the long term? Maybe not.

Investors should weigh the advantages against the disadvantages. Examples of when robo-advisors fall short include:

Ultimately, robo-advisors may appeal to those who have uncomplicated portfolios and can get by on general advice, but for many investors a one-size-fits-most approach doesn’t cut it. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to me and said they heard that all life insurance is bad, or all annuities are bad, or all mutual funds are bad.

But each of those things is created for a specific purpose. Whether they are good or whether they are bad depends on your needs. That’s where human advisors can step in and help you weigh just what those needs are.

Rick Rivera is a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group ( and has more than two decades of experience in the financial industry.