SINGAPORE (July 3): The robots are coming, but not for your jobs. At least, that is what the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s managing director Ravi Menon would have you think. Asked at the central bank’s press briefing on June 29 about the disruptive impact of technology such as robo-advisers on the financial services industry, Menon responded: “I don’t think just because you have very sophisticated algorithms that can crunch numbers and spit out analysis, you will completely replace [humans]. Are they better than a human financial planner? Let’s see. Because there are many aspects of giving advice, understanding the client, which I think is embedded in some core human skills.”

Nevertheless, MAS seems to see a bigger future for robo-advisers and is planning to make it easier for them to operate here. On June 7, the regulator released a consultation paper on proposals to facilitate the provision of robo-advisory services. It notes that financial institutions currently regulated under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) and the Financial Advisers Act (FAA) can already provide such services. In fact, some have started to do so. Yet, MAS is aware of new entities that wish to provide robo-advisory services to retail investors.

To make it easier for them, MAS has outlined several licensing and business conduct requirements. Robo-advisers that operate as fund managers under SFA will be allowed to offer their services to retail investors. No track record requirement is needed. However, they need to meet certain safeguards.

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