In just the past year, more than 16 firms have invested in existing digital advice companies or launched their own robo-style investing services. While it may seem like the current round of robo advice and financial planning tool acquisitions are an example of following the latest hot trend, there may just be a method to the madness.

Earlier estimates of the potential size of robo-managed assets under management in 2020range from $1 to $2.2 trillion. Recently, these estimates have been revised downward from their previously lofty levels as consumer-only robo-advisers struggled to live up to their promised growth rates, as a result of high customer acquisitions costs.

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