“It really isn’t about technology vs. humans. It’s about working together for better outcomes,” said Cynthia Loh, GM of Betterment for Business, one of the panelists in a March 19 NAPA 401(k) Summit “super session” on the intersection of technology and high-touch.
Loh was citing one of the overarching goals of technological application in providing advice and services to participants. Automated portfolio management has advanced tax efficiencies, she said, along with personalized advice and value-added services.
“I love it when technology brings services to people who weren’t being served before,” said panelist Chris Costello, CEO and Co-Founder of blooom, inc. “There are more people getting help today that are flat out were not getting help before,” he added.
But this may not have reached everyone, at least initially. “I most fear services have made this really, really hard,” said Costello, noting that his firm’s target market “is the people who don’t understand this stuff.” Costello noted that his firm is “very clearly targeting a segment of the market that most advisors are not.”
Another important aspect is cyber security. “Everything is at stake for us,” said Costello, “to employ the highest-level protection we can to protect data security.”
Both stressed that technology does not supplant the human touch. “There are things we can’t do. There’s always going to be a place for human advice,” said Loh.
And Loh said that Betterment works with advisors, too — and that they have an entire business line dedicated to that. She said they “partner really good technology with really good advisors.” She said that despite the growing influence and importance of technology, “We’re very open to working with advisors” and that it’s a tool to enable participants to get to a better retirement outcome.”