Investors Beware: #Robo-Blindness Ahead

I'm on the fence when it comes to the "robo-advisory" craze. Clearly, given the gush of venture money and subsequent marketing buzz behind automated trading and investing methods for the masses, lots of very smart folks think that "robots" managing your money (on an highly automated or assisted basis) are here to stay. Note that in 2016 Betterment and Personal Capital bagged rounds of $100 million and $75 million, respectively. Here's the first shoe: Quantitative methods for retail investors were always inevitable once a sufficient level of maturity in the underlying mechanisms had been achieved. In an earlier generation of quantitative trading strategy development (ie - late 1990's), we used say, "You can either fish or sell bait." Meaning, simply, that you can either use your trading signals on a proprietary basis or sell your modeling output for a fee. For those who were good at it, the profitability in the beginning was - or at least could be - far too juicy to sell for a fixed fee. And, frankly, these methods were in a far too formative [...]