In Brief: Jan. 15, 2001

CYBER-CFP Try as they might, 36,000 certified financial planners could never serve all 100 million U.S. households. That's why pros and common folk alike should hope websites like Direct Advice and Financial Engines, which generate financial advice, will succeed. After all, planning is an objective, data-based task, convertible to software--in principle. Trouble is, many firms have introduced nifty online financial tools before their coherence and effectiveness are ensured. "This stuff is great, but we're killing people with it," says James Van Dyke, a senior analyst at Jupiter Research. Data entry is a delicate process, and mistakes can lead to confusion and...

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