City thinking, local knowledge

Robo-advisers v full service: which is right for you?

By Questa Chartered

With the advance of technology come many new forms of innovation. The financial sector isn’t exempt from this, as new start-ups leverage new advancement with the goal of expanding the market for financial advice. This has given rise to a new style of financial planning: the robo-adviser. How do they shape up against the traditional full service approach? Let’s find out…


Robo-advisers have become a kind of catch-all term for investment tech, with differing levels of success depending on which robo-adviser is used. They can be an ideal tool for those who are happy to rely on technology and algorithms to find the best way to invest money for long-term results. 

Many robo-advisers follow the same best practices of investment theory as full service, as they strive to create an investment portfolio aiming for the greatest returns while taking on the smallest amount of risk.

 A lot of robo-advisers also allow you to weight a portfolio towards different markets, avoiding a ‘one size fits all’ approach to getting results. If you’re interested in investing ethically and want to avoid ‘sin stocks’ such as tobacco and firearms, then the options are there. 

We’ve found, in general, that they can be a strong entry point into the investment sector if you already have a good deal of knowledge, and they’re also great if you’re a ‘hands-on’ investor. They sometimes come with lower fees, because the responsibility to manage and review investments lies solely with the investor, meaning the ‘adviser’ has to do less legwork. That is not always the case, however, with some robo-advisers charging a higher percentage of the overall investment than your typical full service provider. 

Be aware, though, that whilst robo-advisers can leverage returns for investors, they can be lacking in investor flexibility. Meaning that the typical robo-adviser will aim for a narrower investment portfolio, containing a smaller range of asset classes. They’re also missing a key element that has become synonymous with financial planning: the personal touch. 

Full Service

There are some things that robots can’t do, namely providing a human interaction that provides a solution to a human problem. The benefits of a chat with a human financial planner can go a long way, as their role is to ease your fears around the investment market, and explain how they work. A typical robo-adviser will not hold your hand through the process or aim to offer you peace of mind should there be a significant shift in a particular investment sector. 

A full service financial planner also works to integrate your finances, taxes and estate plans with your long-term goals in mind. They set out plans over the span of many years with regular check ins to make sure you’re staying on track, hitting your savings milestones and obtaining financial wellbeing. 

Another difference is the resources that full-service financial planning offers. Many full service providers have a number of professional contacts, such as solicitors and accountants that can help you along your financial journey. Advisers can also provide non-investment financial advice, delivering, as the title suggests, a full and well-rounded proposition. 

Furthermore, all choices are made with the client rather than on the client’s behalf and more often than not, you’ll have access to the collective knowledge of a team of financial advisers who, in tandem with your own personal adviser, will work to try and get the best outcomes they can for you. 

The financial sector is always looking for ways to innovate and yield results for clients. Some advisers are even taking the opportunity to integrate both their full service offerings with new robo-advisers. If you’d like to chat about your financial plan or discover how Questa can help you to achieve your financial goals, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

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