I recently posted the below as a blogpost on www.retirement-academy.com and received a significant amount of feedback on this. So, I will also share these thoughts with BrokerWorld’s readership.
Just like how we are all cavemen and women that have evolved, we are also still kids that have grown. Internally, we all have some caveman instincts, and we all have some instincts that are similar to kids. Thus, I believe that the way kids express their emotions can be an accurate expression of how we as adults feel “inside” in similar situations. However, kids have not yet been “polluted“ by political correctness and therefore tend to openly express their emotions without the fear of criticism that us adults feel. My youngest one pointing out that I was “too fat” when he was seven years old is a perfect example of this. Kids cry easier, show frustration easier, and do a lot of other stuff that adults have learned not to do when we are feeling emotional or are having a difficult time with something. I would also argue that the basic ways adults learn has not changed much from when we were kids. Stories and simplification are important to a 50-year-old the same as with a 10-year-old.
Because of the above observations, I believe that insight into how adults actually think, and feel, can be found by observing how kids react to certain things. Which brings me to an observation I have had throughout this COVID-19 crisis. I call it the “Failed Robo-Teacher Experiment.”
This experiment has allowed me to gain even more confidence than I already had that financial professionals will not be replaced by “robo-advisors.” This Robo-Teacher experiment is an interesting litmus test that confirms this. As you know, replacing human financial professionals with computer programs and algorithms to teach and educate consumers about finance has been a discussion topic for decades.
What is the Robo-Teacher experiment I am referring to?
As we were all quarantined early last year, our school district supposedly spent $800,000—that I’m sure I will be paying for over the coming years—to create a “system“ where the students can log on and basically have a robot (computer programs) teach them about certain things. Apparently, the district did not consider Zoom calls at that time.
How did the “Robo-Teachers” do? Well, my 10-year-old was frustrated to tears daily because he was not learning the content without being able to ask questions. Furthermore, my 13-year-old got lazy because the “system” was not engaging his attention as much as a living-breathing human would. I had to kick him into gear every day! In short, it was almost a unanimous failure in the eyes of the parents and students.
An interesting thing started to happen over the last few months of 2020 however. Teachers stepped in and started doing Zoom calls to teach the kids instead of having the kids rely on the computer system to educate themselves. All of a sudden my kids were waking up early, excited to log in to see what the teachers and the other students had to say! The kids started to perform better on their tests and they have become a lot less stressed.
I bring all of this up because you as financial professionals are the equivalent to the teachers in this story. It is you that turn these hard, cold, analytical facts and figures that consumers need to know into engaging stories that allow those consumers to recognize the value of what we do and the products we offer. Again, human interaction, stories and simplification are important to a 50-year-old the same as with a 10-year-old.
If you are a financial professional concerned about being replaced by a “robo-advisor,” look to the failed “Robo-Teacher” experiment as a microcosm of our business. It isn’t going to happen! You are just as important to consumers from a financial standpoint as our wonderful teachers are to our kids from an educational standpoint!