UK based startups and big banks have been pushing their online investment advisors through ads as they try to gain new clients; after seeing some of the startups have early success big banks started to get into the market this past year; the upcoming ISA deadline on April 5th has companies pushing their marketing spend in recent months with hopes it will pay off in new customers and cash. Source.
Robo-advisors are far less prevalent in Europe compared to the US; however this is a growing market particularly in the UK and Germany; the UK market is larger, but Germany is growing at a faster rate; total assets under management stand at $3.5 billion at the end of 2017 according to TechFluence; it is estimated that there are around 98-126 robo-advisor services in Europe; article shares the biggest robo-advisors in Europe and the major differences between markets. Source
Personal financial management or PFM apps have become one of the hotter areas in fintech the last few years; but with more companies starting the competition has been steep and now banks are incorporating a lot of the same features within their mobile apps; TearSheet interviewed Jillian Williams of the Anthemis Group about the PFM market; the interview covers how hard it is to differentiate your product when so many similar firms are out there and why are companies still receiving investment from VC’s; other topics include banks offering a similar suite of products, whether or not robo-advisors will add PFM capabilities and what’s next for the market. Source.
A new report from Numis entitled The State of AI in 2017 explains the potential AI and machine learning for wealth managers; as AltFi reports, “AI enables asset managers to deliver to the mass affluent a degree of personalisation and service quality previously reserved for high net worth clients.”; the technology can also help to improve quality, decrease cost and help to make most of the asset management industry into robo advisors. Source.
Robo advice platforms have commoditized personal investing providing greater automation at lower price points; however AltFi reports that despite increasing innovation in the market, investors are still demanding a human element; specifically, investors are favoring hybrid advice with a survey from Accenture showing two-thirds of high income investors wanting the combined services of robots and humans; mid-scale wealth managers are well positioned to meet this demand and firms such as Charles Schwab and Betterment have already incorporated hybrid services to support customers. Source
One of the key pieces to the new MIFID II regulations is more transparency around investment fees; robo advisors have made their products more transparent and less complex, seeing that traditional advisors are now forced to be more transparent robo advisors might begin seeing business headed their way; before MIFID II investors incurred costs which were not required to be disclosed for buying and selling of shares, taxes, custody, slippage and more; implementation has been slow as incumbents try to adjust to the new regulatory requirements. Source.
Investing startup M1 Finance decided in December that charging 25 to 40 basis points was not working, so it decided to allow users to use their platform for free; since shifting to the free model the company has seen more than $1mn a day come onto the platform; rival robo advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront think the move is an act of desperation, though both companies offer or have offered some version free services; CEO of M1 Brian Barnes tells Business Insider, “M1 is very limiting from a trading perspective but it is a phenomenal tool for building a portfolio for the investments you want." Source.
Two years ago John Hancock acquired AI startup Guide Financial that helped to set the stage for their newly released robo-advisor Twine; “We weren’t going to be a Vanguard, and on the other hand, there are actors like Robinhood — we landed somewhere in the middle,” said Barbara Goose, John Hancock’s chief marketing officer as reported by Tearsheet; the company is completely separate from John Hancock, in technology stack and management, though they do coordinate with the firm through their innovation officer; allowing Twine to be separate but still connected to the main firm gives them flexibility and allow them to target their millennial customer. Source.
Robo advisors are meant to be simple and automated to keep costs low and allow your wealth to accumulate; in looking at the top four firms in the market the Wall Street Journal found that humans choose what goes into the portfolios; this begs the question whether investors are aware of this human intervention; the WSJ takes a closer look at how Vanguard Group's Vanguard Personal Advisor Services (PAS), Betterment, Wealthfront and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios allocate their clients money; while robo advisors are deemed a simple solution they might not be and investors should understand how their money is allocated. Source
Financial Planning explores the possibility of an IPO from the leaders in the robo-advice market including Betterment, Wealthfront and Personal Capital; the companies continue to raise money but some question the viability of the market; Betterment has over $10 billion in assets under management, Wealthfront has $7.4 billion and Personal Capital has $4.9 billion; the companies have a combined 420,000 clients and 548,000 accounts; article shares statements by each company regarding IPOs and the differences between the platforms. Source