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Author Topic: Are robo-advisors a good thing?  (Read 127 times)
Jet Cash
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November 29, 2018, 08:21:51 PM
Merited by dbshck (4), suchmoon (4), paxmao (2)
 #1

We are starting to see robo-advisors appearing for a whole load of different things. They may be good at giving advice about train times, but I'm not sure about other applications. House prices for example - this seems to cut out the role of surveyors and sales agents, and could well lead to price manipulation. Health diagnosis is even more of a risk. There are so many factors involved, and many of the results are dependant on personal contact and evaluation. Patients may not respond correctly to a computer diagnosis.

What do you think? Are we moving into a dangerous area, and will it apply to everybody, or the the bulk of the population?
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November 30, 2018, 02:08:39 PM
Merited by Jet Cash (5), dbshck (4), suchmoon (4), vapourminer (1)
 #2

The question would be like "is the steam engine good"?

From a business perspective, the answer is the same: It is very good for companies and individuals that are in a position that allows them to grasp the benefits of using and making profit from these.

Now, at a personal level, they should be good on only certain applications. Train times and travel are likely to be one. Some applications to medicine are even better than doctors (typically detecting tumors in ERM images and the like). I still remember some medical expert systems built in the 80´s that could give a good guide of the range of possible illnesses providing the symptoms.

As for real state, I don´t think you can replace a Surveyor or a Real State agent. The assistant may provide a price estimate, but the data has to be first gathered.

The main problem I find is that these assistants tend to create their "unique and only" versión of the truth many times based on algos that have been proven to be biased (gender, race, age,...) and many times inadequate. Just consider Google as an assistant for information search: You will most time get the same answer to your question, written in a phoney 500 words, paraphrasing and filled with unnecessary text style. May the rest of assistant have the same problem?

I would trust these systems for uses that result in factual and non-controvertible results. Anything that is "an opinion" is automatically under (my) suspicion.
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December 18, 2018, 09:06:58 PM
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I'd say yes ... but.

These robo advisers have tremendous upsides.
They can crunch huge amounts of data, won't make mistakes and could provide you with insightful analytics.

The real estate is a good example I think. When I look for a place in a big city, I'll make a weighted comparison matrix, with several factors. This helps me deciding wether the place suits my needs or not, and if the pricing is ok.
It involves a huge amount of research and time. 90% of which could be automated. I don't know where you are from, and how the market is, but in France I wouldn't trust a real estate agent ever. The price they are asking for is usually set by the owner, and they are just a third party looking to sell it asap to gain their retainer. Hardly what you can call impartial.

However you are right about the unique vision, we also have to evolve and learn to use these that have unique outputs as you state it, or learn on how to actually adapt these advisors to our own needs.

Also look at Siri or Google Assistant today, and what we got 10 years ago or so. They are improving visibly every single year. This tech has a lot to offer I am convinced. It is then our burden to handle it with criticism and control the output now and then.
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January 28, 2019, 07:48:06 AM
Last edit: January 28, 2019, 08:01:50 AM by _Miracle
 #4

"Real life advisors" aren't always a good thing.
Investment advisors who get paid more for selling a specific product may not be helping you to make the right choices ----for you.

Speaking to the real estate question (as a former broker) my advice relied heavily on data and on the programs used to convert the data into useful and easily conveyed information, although my personal interest in tech also translated into incorporating it into just about every aspect of the business.

Basic agent examples would be:
Multiple Listing Service data for past-current sales to create a presentable  Comparable Market Analysis
or running cash flows or Returns On Investment projections.

I spent time on weekly broker tours (touring homes-getting to know other agents-marketing my clients properties), keeping up on data, learning in classes or teaching classes....dealing with other agents, banks, lenders, escrows---clients :-) Oh yes and prospecting for new business

Buying or selling a home is more personal than investing and sometimes an agent's job could easily become: temporary hand holder or momentary marriage counselor ;-)

On the personal note I had a real interest in helping my clients and did my best to be as skilled as possible.

I feel like people should be able to trust their advisors but they can't.

Robo-advisors could be a good thing but as a consumer: having at least a basic understanding to put the advice you're getting into context would be the best bet.
A robo-advisor still has to be programed and there lies the flaw.

Do Due Diligence
 *Lordy! I had to edit this several times, my appologies
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