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Thursday, July 2, 2015

TV Shows Why Robo-Advisors Can't Eliminate Human FAs

News summary by MFWire's editors

In the debate over robo-advisors making human financial advisors obsolete, you and your broker-dealer, FA, and RIA allies have a new ally: Dwayne Johnson, also known as "the Rock".

On June 21 Johnson's new show, Ballers, debuted on HBO. The show offers something to tide over fundsters and FAs alike who are counting down the days until the NFL season (63 days as of this writing) and the college football season (64 days as of this writing) each kick off; it features a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of fictional current and former football stars. Inside baseball, but football style, all set in lovely Miami.

But the show isn't about football, not really. Johnson stars as a retired-football-player-turned-struggling-financial-advisor, trying to dig himself out of a financial hole while pleasing his boss by landing other football stars as clients.

Yet the show also isn't about the details of perfect investing strategy or about geeking out about returns or the latest hot investing tip. The show is now two episodes in, and asset allocation and specific investment types (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, hedge funds, you name it) haven't come up so far.

What Johnson's character, Spencer Strassmore, spends his time doing is much more personal. Strassmore talks with a young star about reining in that star's entourage's spending before facing financial ruin. Strassmore meets with a more mature star's agent, and with the star himself, about next steps after an online video of a fight gets the star dropped from his team. While chatting in front of a club, Strassmore tells a guy who just bought an ultra high-end car "never buy a depreciating asset."

"If it drives, flies, floats or [expletive deleted], lease it!" Strassmore quips.

In other words, aside from some good lines like that, most of what Johnson's character is doing is about relationships, hand-holding, and the like; stuff that good FAs are great at but pure robo-advisors fall short on. Johnson's character could even use a robo-advisor for that asset allocation and investing stuff mentioned above (but not on the show so far) to free his own time up to focus on the hand-holding and the relationship-building.

So tell the FAs you work with that the next time someone asks them if robo-advisors are going to take their jobs, they should just point to HBO's newest hero. 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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