Each year it seems as though more and more of our waking life is consumed by online activities. In 2015 alone, online purchases and payments exceeded $450 billion.1 It’s a phenomenon that has certainly helped to simplify and facilitate many of our daily activities — from paying bills and staying in touch with old friends to making dinner reservations and planning vacations. But in many aspects of life, instant accessibility can never successfully supplant genuine personal knowledge and familiarity. Managing your wealth is most certainly one of those areas.
As a growing number of financial firms seek to minimize their costs by relying heavily on technology to deliver investment advice, I fear that their clients will ultimately pay a higher price — not in fees but in diminished quality. These emerging online services, dubbed “robo-advisors” by the media, simply lack the human interaction that is the essential foundation of any strong advisory relationship.
How can an algorithm that relies on subjective answers to a dozen multiple choice questions possibly comprehend your goals, objectives, fears and needs the way a caring trusted advisor sitting across the table from you can? Software can’t share life experiences and stories with you. It can’t read your body language and sense the palpable but unspoken worries. And it certainly doesn’t know what makes you tick and the things that keep you awake at night.
While we embrace emerging technologies at Pennsylvania Trust, we will never allow them to replace or even diminish the deep personal connections that make our client relationships so mutually rewarding. Online services can be a tremendous way to deliver enhanced relationship value. But it’s the personal touch — the willingness to go above and beyond, the insight to anticipate needs before they arise, and the ability to not only craft personalized portfolios but also to deliver a comprehensive total wealth management solution — that makes our firm exceptional.
Both the breadth of our experience and the depth of our firm’s unique insights are on display in the latest issue of Trust & Investment Perspectives. In Is Your Trust Portable? Part 2, Peter Johnson touches on a timely issue involving a client’s ability to change the corporate trustee that has been appointed in a trust. Elsewhere, Chip Sheppard offers a market update in What’s Cooking in the Market? He delves into current economic conditions and the upcoming presidential election, exploring the issue of market volatility in election years.
There’s a reason why only 21% of Americans have a high degree of trust in big businesses while 67% express a high degree of trust in smaller businesses.2 It’s the ability of smaller businesses to establish a human connection; the confidence that you can pick up the phone and speak with someone who knows you, understands you, and sincerely cares. And it’s why our approach to total wealth management resonates so strongly with you, our clients.
by Richardson T. Merriman
Mr. Merriman is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Pennsylvania Trust.
1 TrendForce Research, February 2016
2 “Americans Still More Confident in Small vs. Big Business,” Gallup, July 2015
Disclosure: Data is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as marketing for any Pennsylvania Trust mandate or service and should not be considered a solicitation or an offer to provide any Pennsylvania Trust service in any jurisdiction where it would be unlawful to do so. The views expressed represent the opinions of Pennsylvania Trust and are not intended as a forecast or guarantee of future results. The sectors, industries, countries and regions discussed herein should not be perceived as investment recommendations and may no longer be held in an account’s portfolio. It should not be assumed that investments in any sector, industry, country or region discussed were or will prove profitable. Sector/industry weights and country and regional allocations of any particular client may vary based on investment restrictions applicable to the account. There may be additional risks associated with international investments. International securities may be subject to market/currency fluctuations, investment risks, and other risks involving foreign economic, political, monetary, taxation, auditing and other legal factors. These risks may be magnified in emerging markets. Pennsylvania Trust believes that transactions in any option, future, commodity, or other derivative product are not suitable for all persons, and that accordingly, clients should be aware of the risks involved in trading such instruments. There may be significant risks which should be considered prior to investing. All securities trading, whether in stocks, options or other investment vehicles, is speculative in nature and involves substantial risk of loss. Indices are unmanaged and not available for direct investment. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.