Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Future Is.....Here?

Starting 2 weeks ago at Law & Society, I began participating in a series of conversations that can be boiled down to this:  Artificial Intelligence and the Law. Even the ABA is on to this story, which means it has reached a peak saturation point.  Exciting, scary, confusing, skeptical and a variety of other reactions have been thrown into the conversations across the legal studies gamut from algorithms in parole & criminal sentencing  to its use to generate social credit scores (thank you Nizan Packin for opening my eyes to this application).  In another LSA shout out, I want to highlight to forthcoming scholarship of Ben Edwards at Barry College where he criticizes the conflicts of interest in investment advise channels. One possible work around he explores is relying on robo-advisors:    In the few years since I have looked at digital investment advise, the field has changed, matured, grown!   So much so that FINRA has issued a report on digital investment advise, and is unsurprisingly skeptical of the technology application that poses a significant threat to its members (new release synopsis available here).   For the uninitiated, check out this run down of popular robo-advisors and Forbes article.  Skepticism about the sustainability of low-fee model can be found here; and optimism about its ability to change the world can be found here.

A robo-advisor (robo-adviser) is an online wealth management service that provides automated, algorithm-based portfolio management advice without the use of human financial planners. Robo-advisors (or robo-advisers) use the same software as traditional advisors, but usually only offer portfolio management and do not get involved in more personal aspects of wealth management, such as taxes and retirement or estate planning.


-Anne Tucker

Anne Tucker, Financial Markets, Web/Tech | Permalink


Interesting stuff. I also came across a software application along these lines when I was researching a crowdfunding article a few years ago. Specifically, what I found is that some platforms were using a software application to determine whether a user is an accredited investor. I was squeamish about this and wondered whether the platform was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law . . . . I had a similar reaction when reading your post. My question here? Whether a robo-advisor owes fiduciary duties. Oy. Thanks for all the great information.

Posted by: joanheminway | Jun 15, 2016 7:13:23 PM

Not all human investment advise providers owe fiduciary duties, so the program could be structured in a way to avoid the legal duties. I don't know enough about how the majority work. Assuming the Robo-advisor performs services that would trigger fiduciary duties in a human, that poses a very interesting question! Would the algorithm be judged by duty of care? Suitability? Churning? Liability attach to the people/company operating the algorithm?

Posted by: Anne Tucker | Jun 16, 2016 2:51:55 AM

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