BlackRock is removing some active managers to let computer do more of the stock picking. As Fred Katayama reports, the rise of automation could kill other white collar jobs.
The world's biggest money manager is shaking up the way it selects stocks. BlackRock's move to lay off employees, remove some active portfolio managers and let computers do more of the stock picking signifies the huge advances made in artificial intelligence. But it's not stock pickers whose jobs are at risk, say experts. So are other white collar jobs that rely on human cognitive abilities. A new study by consulting firm PwC says nearly 40 percent of American jobs are at risk of being automated by the early 2030s. A PwC partner says automation could next hit insurance underwriters and agents and financial advisors. Jonathan Weber is global technology editor at Reuters. SOUNDBITE: JONATHAN WEBER, GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY EDITOR, REUTERS, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Lawyers or people in the legal profession who spend a lot of time, say, pouring through lots of documents, looking for certain kinds of things, that kind of pattern recognition or searching for things and documents. That's something that can be done by intelligent computers. Similarly in the medical profession, say you have people who read X-rays or lab reports or things like that. Those are also things that increasingly could be done by machine looking at that X-ray to see if you have a fracture or something like that." Wall Street has already seen the rise of digital wealth management firms that employ "robo-advisors." Wealthfront and Betterment's algorithms and automation technology automatically create and manage portfolios made up of low-cost exchange traded funds. But take heart: Betterment recently unveiled a new service that gives clients access to human financial planners. And Charles Schwab also launched a service that combines its automated investment management technology with human advisors.