What You Need to Know About Virtual Financial Advising and Robo-Advisors

The COVID-19 pandemic led wealth management advisors to get creative. Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders forced many to look at ways to continue engaging and counseling their clients without being in the same physical space.

With the abundance of digital solutions available, the industry — and our staff at Pekin Hardy Strauss — was able to pivot and embrace virtual financial advising. Our sessions moved online to Zoom and Microsoft Teams as we tried to make ourselves as available to our clients as possible.

Our goal was simple: To provide our clients with personalized and professional service — even from afar. The commitment to virtual service has also afforded us the opportunity to cut down on travel while still expanding our clientele beyond our Chicago base.

That move online allows clients to customize their services to fit their preferred outreach cadence and involvement by an advisor. Whether a client chooses to see a virtual advisor (what we offer at Pekin Hardy) or a robo-advisor (a service we do not provide), the wealth management strategies clients seek are provided — on their terms.

Understanding the Types of Online Wealth Management

The move to virtual wealth management has allowed us to be of better service to our clients while offering a wider selection of advisors with expertise in areas like estate planning, retirement planning, and investment management.

Not all virtual wealth management strategies are alike, however. For clients looking to leverage wealth management expertise and fintech solutions equally, here are a couple of different advisor options to help customize your experience:

  • Virtual financial advisor: Virtual financial advising is just as it sounds; it moves communication from in-person meetings to online interactions.

You’re still working with a real person to make investment decisions and receive financial advice based on your unique circumstances, both quantifiable and otherwise (e.g., emotional, behavioral, and so on). You get all the same benefits of seeing a financial advisor, but you do it through a screen rather than in person.

  • Robo-advisor: What is a robo-advisor? Technology that eliminates the human advisor entirely. With a robo-advisor, all wealth management strategies and advice come via a computer algorithm that uses personal characteristics and financial information to create a unique investment portfolio.

The advice is customized only to the extent that the algorithm can quantify the information, and it’s generally limited to portfolio construction. Because there is no actual relationship, a robo-advisor is usually unable to provide guidance on other important financial topics, such as home or auto buying, college planning, charitable planning, estate planning, risk mitigation, and so on. Robo-advisors also typically pursue passive investment strategies that, in our view, may  lead to suboptimal long-term investment results.

As wealth management firms digitize more of their resources, it’s only natural for investors to try these new resources. Your decision of whether to use a virtual financial advisor or a robo-advisor is a personal choice — and it all comes down to the advice you seek.

Want to learn more about our array of virtual wealth management offerings? Visit Pekin Hardy Strauss Wealth Management to learn more!


This article is prepared by Pekin Hardy Strauss, Inc. (“Pekin Hardy”, dba Pekin Hardy Strauss Wealth Management) for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for business.  The information and data in this article does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, investment or other professional advice.  The views expressed are those of the author(s) as of the date of publication of this report, and are subject to change at any time due to changes in market or economic conditions. Pekin Hardy cannot assure that the strategies discussed herein will outperform any other strategy in the future, there are no assurances that any predicted results will actually occur.