Fintech, short for financial technology, has pervaded every aspect of our lives. This union between finance and technology has heavily altered the way banking and finance are being done, revolutionising the way we manage our transactions and assets. What is impressive is that this revolution has become woven so seamlessly into our lives that it feels like just another part of our everyday happenings. However, when we think about it, these daily happenings are greatly influenced by Fintech. Whether it be online banking, sending money digitally to a friend, or even paying for products using our smartphones, Fintech has been steadily making these transactions more convenient. How exactly did Fintech manage to infiltrate so deeply into our lives, and why will it continue to do so? Let us dive in. 

 

A big reason why Fintech has managed to permeate so widely is due to the rapid growth of the industry. All over the world, innovators are working round the clock to remodel our financial services. With his 20 years of experience in Fintech innovation, Rich Turin shares with us on our podcast Wealthtech Unwrapped about the growth of Fintech. He notes that Fintech is a hugely competitive industry in China, similar to how investment banking was like in the West. The lucrative nature of Fintech attracts many young people who are willing to sacrifice to earn more, fueling rapid innovation within the industry. With innovation comes new services and products that continue to simplify our lives. This leads us to our next point, which is that Fintech is global in its reach.

 

In a world without borders, the rapid growth of Fintech in any part of the world will have global ramifications. Rather than influencing their local geographies, Fintech advancements will impact the entire ecosystem surrounding banking and finance. Looking at the new asset class of cryptocurrency, we can exchange our local currency for a more stable digital coin that will generate yield over time. Because cryptocurrency exists in a decentralised space, anyone from anywhere in the world can invest in it. In an interview with Edmund Lowell, founder and CEO of KYC-Chain, he shared that this was especially useful for residents of countries with a collapsing local currency as they will take refuge and protect their savings using cryptocurrency. Since anyone can participate, Fintech as an industry is without borders and can influence almost every corner of the globe. 

 

Finally, Fintech has only been able to become so ubiquitous due to the advances in technology. Historically, the reality has been that financial planning is for those who can afford it. However, advancements in technology have helped lower the cost of financial planning, allowing many more to access this service. One way has been through Robo-advisors. These Robo-advisors are a marriage between human advice and technology, using algorithms to provide automated investment guidance to anyone who uses it. They not only make financial advice accessible but straightforward as well. According to Statista, in 2020, the US had almost $1.05 Billion worth of assets under management in the Robo-advisor segment. Once the deployment of Robo-advisors has become widespread, financial planning will no longer be the prerogative of the affluent.

 

According to Bambu’s Consumer Sentiment Analysis, tech-savvy investors are seeking information and investment options to provide more context. Robo-advisors, because they lower the barrier to entry for financial advice, are well-positioned to meet the needs and demands of these end consumers. Furthermore, decreasing advisor fees using technology is especially crucial during economic downturns. As people’s finances become tighter, they will be less willing to pay a high premium for financial advice. With these benefits above implementing Robo-advisors, many large financial institutions and firms are quick on the uptake. For instance, Deloitte forecasts that by 2025, over $16 Trillion worth of assets will be managed by Robo-advisors. As members of the Fintech community, Bambu aims further to advance the deployment of Robo-advisors among various financial institutions. We help our clients navigate their key considerations to implement digital solutions that value-add to their business, helping them create the best digital wealth experience for their customers. 

 

There is no foreseeable ceiling to the heights that Fintech can reach. As the industry grows and technology progresses, the union between finance and technology will continue to be strengthened. Aki Ranin, the Co-founder of Bambu, shares that Fintech will become so integrated into our lives that managing our finances will become increasingly unconscious for users. He believes that technology will take care of our bills one day, optimise our spending, and help us invest for retirement, all behind the curtains. All in all, Fintech will become increasingly intertwined with our everyday lives.

 

The acquisition of Tradesocio will extend Bambu’s digital wealth capabilities, doubling the number of employees to 130 and further accelerating global expansion.

Singapore, July 13 2021 – Bambu is pleased to announce the acquisition of Tradesocio, a WealthTech company with 65 employees, specialising in investment management and trading technologies with offices in Singapore, India, and Dubai. This acquisition significantly strengthens the combined business’ competitiveness globally. Bambu will have a presence in all major financial hubs and expanded digital wealth capabilities covering stock trading and cryptocurrencies.

Through the acquisition, Tradesocio brings years of experience delivering and operating high-volume trading platforms across various asset classes. The acquisition puts Bambu in a unique position that will provide customers greater agency through broader system capabilities that go beyond the offerings of existing robo advisor platforms. In addition, Tradesocio’s presence across EMEA and India, along with an existing portfolio of clients, is set to further Bambu’s reach in a rapidly expanding and evolving global digital wealth market.

Ned Phillips, CEO of Bambu, said, “After five years of building solid foundations, Bambu is now entering a phase of rapid growth. This deal helps us in three key areas: it expands our product offering into stocks and crypto, it gives us a wider global footprint and enables us to scale our team effectively to match exponential demand. We believe this positions us well for our Series C and ambitions of becoming the global leader in WealthTech.”

This is unlikely to be Bambu’s last acquisition as they foresee acquiring more companies that strengthen their product mix and global reach to impact the digital wealth industry.

 

About Bambu

Bambu is a leading global digital wealth technology provider for financial institutions. We enable companies to make saving and investing simple and intelligent for their clients. The cloud-based platform is powered by our proprietary algorithms and machine learning tools. The company serves over 20 financial institutions globally. Founded in 2016, Bambu is headquartered in Singapore with a subsidiary in the United Kingdom and the United States and EMEA representatives. For more information, visit https://bambu.co/ and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

About Tradesocio

Tradesocio provides Digital Technology that helps Financial Investment institutions manage, offer and access secure and profitable financial services. We allow financial institutions to attract a wider clientele, ranging from the retail to the high-net-worth institutional investor, and offer them access to a variety of financial services, bringing equal opportunities to the world. We offer tailored digital investment management solutions to the wider investment management community that are reducing costs and increasing revenue potential.

We provide the complete end-to-end financial management solution, from development, hosting and maintenance, to security and post-sales technical support.

 

Media Contact

Laura Pereira
Senior Marketing Manager, Bambu
laura@bambu.co

 

Who doesn’t want financial stability? A financial cushion that can serve them and be their back during rainy days? A retirement plan that can offer them the satisfaction of having a filled bank account when they are out of work? A surety that they will be able to pay the hospital bills in case of emergency? A guarantee that they will have enough to request a mortgage for their new house? All this requires some financial knowledge.

Financial knowledge comes when people have access to good financial advisors. Sadly, getting honest financial advisors that offer helpful suggestions is like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why wealth management is so complex. 

In fact, you would be surprised to know that even in the US, less than 25% of people have ever used a financial manager for advice. According to a survey, only 18% of Americans actively seek financial advice, and the biggest reason is that they consider it an extra expense.

Fortunately, digital wealth management platforms are changing that. And powering them is a wealth management API that is trying to improve how wealth management platforms are made today. One of the providers of wealth management API is Bambu.  It is redefining how wealth management works by building better and faster wealth management applications. In addition, this wealth management API contains data that can help wealth management platforms’ clients to invest in their goals.

What is a wealth management API? How Does it Work?

Wealth management has always been a hot topic. But it has become even hotter recently after the global pandemic and market crash in 2020. All this has created more demand for financial advice, and people are now opting for digital investment options. As a bank, an insurance company, an investment service, or a brokerage, this is the best time to create a wealth management robo advisor that can help your clients and a wealth management API can help you build it faster and better.

Consider wealth management API as a solution to your robo advisory platform. For example, suppose you are creating a robo advisory platform that can help your clients manage their portfolios, take care of their retirement plans, and reach their house purchasing goals. In that case, a wealth management API will provide the foundations for that.

With a wealth management API, you won’t have to start from scratch. That means not creating the whole algorithm to calculate investment goals and provide portfolio projections to the clients. Of course, all this takes many people from multiple disciplines (finance, engineering) and time to build. With the API, you will create the basic infrastructure and the wealth management API will take care of all the processing that goes in the backend for crafting financial plans for your clients.

Who Should Use a Wealth Management API?

Anyone who is offering financial management services to their clients or willing to offer them in the future should connect to a wealth management API. 

This could be: 

  • Banks looking to offer financial planning and wealth management services
  • Financial advisors looking to offload their work to automated robo advisors
  • Startups in the financial space looking to launch their product faster
  • Fintech companies looking to add a new module with their current offering
  • Brokerage firms trying to create their wealth management platforms

All these are the ideal users of a wealth management API as it will allow them to create/launch their robo advisory platforms with minimal efforts. 

Bambu Wealth Management API: How Can It Help?

Bambu is one of the leading online wealth management platform providers. It offers wealth management solutions such as  

robo advisory, API so that its clients (financial services) can create wealth management and financial planning solutions for their customers. 

How Does Bambu Provide Financial Projections?

 

Creating a robo advisory platform using the Bambu wealth management API is simple. The API is powered by financial data in multiple countries to enable wealth management providers and an easy way to build goal helpers for their clients.

For example, let’s say you are creating a robo advisory platform for your financial firm. The robo advisory platform can guide clients on a day-to-day basis in planning for:

  • Child’s education
  • Retirement
  • Healthcare

Let’s go through an example of how Bambu wealth management API works in real scenarios. We will use a child’s education goal as an example. Then, we will show some screenshots from a real wealth management platform that uses Bambu API to build a child’s education goal helper.

To analyze and provide an accurate estimate of how much the client should save for their client’s education, the wealth management API will interact with Bambu’s financial data mentioned above. The data will then be combined with an algorithm to project the future amount of the goal. 

In the child’s education goal helper platform below, the client will be asked for the child’s age of education, the university’s location, whether or not the university is public, and whether or not the major is medical.

After the client fills in all the required info, the platform will send a request to Bambu API and the API will then send a response containing the estimation of the child’s education amount, which is $129, 874.

How Can You Start Using Bambu Wealth Management API?

Go to developer.bambu.co to get started. You can create a free account and try the API from there. The website contains tutorials to get started using the API to build multiple-goal helpers such as a child’s education, retirement, and house. The free tier gives you a 5000 API calls quota per month. 

What’s Next?

If you are looking to accelerate creating your wealth management platform that can guide your clients in planning their investment goals, then Bambu wealth management API offers all the help you would need. Try the API today and see how it can help you create your wealth management platform faster and better.

Our engineering team is a group of passionate and talented individuals who work hard and play hard.

What technologies do they use? 

The main tech stack the team uses is JavaScript-driven, leveraging ReactJS in the front-end and NodeJS in the back-end. This allows for cross-functional capabilities and interoperability throughout the stack. Javascript is also well represented in terms of the talent pool and more than capable of serving most web application needs today. For more computationally heavy tasks, the ream relies on technology like python for its wide availability of libraries or C# for better performance.

The application is entirely containerized through docker use, allowing the team to deploy quickly in different systems or provide a local testing/development environment that any developer/tester/product manager can quickly bring up. This helps speed up the software development life cycle, which enables them to create working prototypes much faster.

The team has decided on AWS as the infrastructure of choice due to its broad global market penetration for availability and in-house expertise. Being on a matured and established cloud platform allows them to focus more on the product rather than spending time optimizing the infrastructure. Due to the containerized nature of our application, ECS (Elastic Container Service) and EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service) are primarily used and managed because they allow for easy scalability, high availability, and disaster recovery. The infrastructure deployment also follows the principle of infrastructure as code by using AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK). This allows the team to migrate and create new environments easily in a different region whenever needed. 

How do they accomplish their daily activities?

As a part of a cross-functional development team, the engineers will participate in a sprint. A sprint is a time-boxed period during which the team needs to complete a set amount of objectives. 

In every sprint, a lead engineer will understand the big picture and break down stories into tasks that other engineers can pick up. A task will have a story point, usually representing the number of days an engineer may require to complete the task. Once an engineer is done with their task, they will be required to make a pull request (code review request) to their fellow engineers. Pull requests will serve as a feature for engineers to discuss and provide feedback on the implemented task. It can also be leveraged to modify the task if necessary. Once a pull request is approved, the task will be marked as ready to be shipped for quality assurance testing. 

The sprint will end with a review, serving as an opportunity for engineers to showcase their completed tasks to the entire team.

What’s our software development process?

The methodology followed within Bambu is the Hybrid Agile model, which combines Agile methods and other non-Agile techniques, such as the Waterfall model. It is often considered an intelligent approach adopting Agile-Waterfall methodologies as this method is able to retain the clarity and maintainability of the Waterfall method while embracing the adaptability and flexibility of Agile.

The first step: Requirements Analysis Phase. 

User expectations for a new/ modified product are determined. This involves recording the needs of the clients and conducting analysis to ensure clarity and completeness of the discussed requirements.

 

The second step: Design Phase. 

A high-level design schematic is crafted and signed off by the client’s business stakeholders to ensure the designs are aligned with the given requirements.

 

The third step: Implementation Phase (coding). 

Developers are provided with the approved design schematics. The software design is translated into efficient source code.

 

The fourth step: Testing and Documentation Phase. 

The test plan execution is done in each sprint to minimize the risk of failures. Performance of tests will ensure that the product performs as expected.

The fifth step: Maintained Separation Phase

Separate logical environments for system development, testing, and production are maintained so that no single individual can move object codes. 

 

The sixth step: Deployment Phase

After the project team completes product testing, the product is ready to go live. Change management and incident response plans are crafted.

 

The seventh step: Maintenance and Support Phase

The application system is monitored to ensure data integrity and efficient performance, faults are identified and rectified. 

 

The eighth step: Maintenance Phase

This stage consists of completing change requests, technical support and resolution, and tracking open issues on the systems deployed to production.

Devs hard at work – Photo taken Pre-Covid

 

Being able to achieve success of such high caliber requires skills, patience, and resilience. We applaud our software engineering team for their triumphs! For more insights into Bambu, you can also read “Uncovered Success – The Story of Bambu”, where we interview our CEO, Ned Philips. 

Singapore, June 1, 2021 – Vestwell, a digital recordkeeping platform, and Bambu, a global robo-advisory technology provider, are teaming up to provide customers with an even more robust retirement plan experience. By leveraging Bambu’s wealth management API, Vestwell and its partners will be able to offer personalized investment strategies to help their clients better prepare for retirement based on actionable retirement goals.

The new relationship played a role in Vestwell’s recently released advisor managed account offering with Franklin Templeton. Together, they are rolling out an innovative, goals-based offering using Franklin Templeton’s Goals Optimization Engine.

“As workplace investor expectations evolve, it’s vital to deliver participants the types of personalized solutions they’ve become accustomed to in all other aspects of their lives,” said Ben Thomason, EVP of Revenue at Vestwell. “Working with Bambu and Franklin Templeton has made it possible to create a seamlessly data-integrated, low-friction, bespoke managed account experience at a reasonable price.”

Bambu has developed a Wealthtech API proven to provide the information investors need to maximize success for achieving their retirement savings goals. The retirement API has features to cater to US retirees’ needs, which considers Social Security Benefits (SSB), tax, and retirement goals. The investing platform starts with the user’s current status in terms of savings amount and lifestyle needs. Then, the proprietary engine presents investors with an overview of various options, including investment strategies that may be appropriate based on their answers to a targeted risk tolerance questionnaire.

“With the rapidly changing landscape of retirement planning in America, it is important for financial institutions to provide a seamless experience that helps individuals save and plan their future,” said Ned Phillips, Bambu Founder & CEO. “Being able to offer API as an option along with the enterprise and white label solutions has been beneficial. It allows clients, who already have technical resources at their disposal, to build a wealth management platform more quickly by using our APIs for endpoints like retirement goal calculators and portfolio projections.”

Bambu has a library of over 70 Wealthtech APIs designed to make wealth management easy for companies looking to create their robo-advisory platform. These can be categorized by financial planning, country and fund data, machine learning, transactions allocations, and performance monitoring. Bambu provides readily available goal-based wealth management API; no set-up required.

 

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Varun Sridhar, CEO of Paytm Money, India’s largest online investment and wealth management platform. Varun is an expert in leading financial institutions to digital transformation through intrapreneurship. Prior to Paytm Money, he served as CEO of FinShell India, where he helped launch PaySa, a mobile fintech platform. He was also with BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank prior to that. 

The interview below has been summarized from an interview we had with Varun in our podcast, WealthTech Unwrapped

Ned (N): How are you doing, Varun? Thank you for joining us. 

Varun (V): Very good, thank you. Super excited to be here. And, you know, I’ve heard of you guys before so I’m very excited that I can add something. It’s a good day today, however, we’re going through some tough times in India. It’s been a challenging few weeks for everyone. But yeah, but I’m happy and safe personally.

N: Happy to hear you’re doing well. There’s a lot we want to cover, so let’s get started. I wonder, how does a corporate guy end up in one of the coolest jobs in FinTech? You’ve been at Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, big corporates. Was fintech something you always wanted to do or was it more happenstance that you ended up at Paytm Money?

V: So I think I’ll take a step back and maybe wind my life. I never imagined that I would be in a FinTech. If I go all the way back, I just wanted to be in a bank. I actually bought my first stock at 16. 

You know the reason I wanted to be a banker because my uncle invited me to a five-star hotel in Delhi, and said, “spend as much as you want today, and I’ll take care of the bill.” When a 16-year-old gets an opportunity like that, you think “hey, I want to make a lot of money too”. After graduating in commerce, I was chartered in accountancy and then somehow went into politics. 

So everybody is talking about robo-advisors…

As with any new cool technology, there seems to be many questions or misconceptions around it. Robo-advisors are the future, and therefore it is essential to understand what’s real and what’s just a myth before you decide to build one or use a robo-advisor for your investment needs. 

Here are the top seven myths of robo-advisors you need to know.

Myth #1: Robo-advisors are the same

False! 

They may have similar characteristics such as lower fees, automated transactions, no or low minimum balances and easy account set-up, but robo-advisors differ greatly in many other ways:

  • Types of available investments – such as ETFs, indexes, stocks, gold 
  • Fees or costs charged on your investments 
  • Access or non-access to investment advisors
  • Minimum required initial investment amount ($1 or in the thousands) 
  • Add-on services such as rebalancing or tax loss harvesting
  • Investment strategy
  • User interface

With regard to investment strategy, each robo-advisor tends to have proprietary algorithms that utilize different portfolio optimization techniques. Most use variants of Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), bootstrapping, Monte Carlo with some perturbations, Meucci’s or Bayesian techniques, Black-Litterman model and plenty more. 

Figure 1 also shows the distribution of portfolio construction methodologies used by robo-advisors. 

To read more about the algorithms behind various robo-advisors, you can refer here and here

RoboAdvisors and portfolio construction

Figure 1: Robo-advisors and portfolio construction
(Source: Which algorithms do robo-advisors use?

Overall, how a robo-advisor is constructed and its functions boils down to the company’s preferred investment strategy. As such, not all robo-advisors are equal. Taking some effort to find out the nuances behind a robo-advisor’s capabilities will help you understand these apps’ different outcomes. This is important when finding the best fit.    

Myth #2: Robo-advisors only offer one-size-fits-all portfolios 

Definitely wrong!

Robo-advisors tailor portfolios according to the user’s goal or risk assessment. The assessment asks questions on a few factors: the time horizon, risk tolerance and amount invested, which quickly but sufficiently frames the user’s needs and financial goals. A mix of investment instruments from the robo-advisor’s investment universe will be selected as part of the constructed portfolio. A moderate risk investor looking to save for a house in the next five years will likely have a very different asset allocation (i.e, investments mix) compared to a low-risk investor looking to save for retirement in 25 years. 

The level of personalization also would vary according to the number of risk bands that a robo-advisor provides. Similar risk levels and goals may result in similar portfolios. Still, such circumstances are arguably inevitable as too many permutations may hinder automation or make it too complex for a robo-advisor. This is also one advantage that human wealth management advisors have over robo-advisors – the level of understanding and personalization of  a portfolio. 

Other than personalizing  portfolios according to goals and risks, certain robo-advisors also provide themed, sector, or idea portfolios for their customers. This is a different kind of personalization that may appeal to customers who prefer investing in things they are more familiar with, or enjoy spotting global trends or growth opportunities. Examples of themes in themed portfolios include shale gas, global recycling, online gaming, environmental social and corporate governance (ESG) and even, a “fight fat” portfolio (investing in multiple weight loss companies).  

See how financial giants have built their robo-advisors and the kind of portfolios here: 8 Big Players in the World of Digital Wealth

Myth #3: Robo-advisors are only for young people

Not at all!

Robo-advisors are a convenient tool for anyone who wants help growing their money. Whether you’re a Millennial, a baby boomer, or part of Generation X, Y or Z, robo-advisors can help you kickstart your investment journey – at any age.

However, we do not deny that Millennials and the generations after them could be a financial jackpot, especially for Registered Investment Advisors who seek to relate to and engage a new generation of clients. 

Find out why this is so: Millennials: The Financial Jackpot for Financial Advisors

Myth #4: I have to choose between a robo-advisor or a human 

Never!

Since both advisors provide different services, they are not mutually exclusive or even exist as competitors. Having one may not and does not need to stop you from engaging another. Consumers should think of both human and robo advisors as tools to achieve the same end goal of discovering their financial needs and to achieve their financial goals. They could also be targeting different segments: robo-advisors appeal to those with a passive investment strategy or with a lower amount of money invested, while human wealth management advisors are preferred by those who invest more aggressively or have a higher amount of money that they want to put in. 

The means to the end may differ – robo-advisors take on more of a passive investment strategy and commonly have lower returns, compared to human advisors. They also cost less than human advisors (human advisors receive 2-3% commissions, compared to less than 1% for robo-advisors). Humans could also be more active in understanding your needs, tailoring your products and monitoring the returns. The higher level of involvement and personalization  is also what drives up cost and requires financial institutions to be more selective with whose portfolios they manage. 

As such, a person may switch between robo-advisors and human advisors or even have both as part of a holistic investment strategy depending on their financial needs. 

Many investment professionals use robo-advising technology as part of their practice — and it works very well for their clients. Research indicates that many investors prefer a hybrid approach and that most clients expect their advisors to use technology to enhance their offerings. 

Myth #5: Robo-advisors are expensive

Nope. 

Robo-advisors usually charge a platform fee that covers transaction and custody fees. On top of that, the underlying financial products include some management fees that are typically collected by the fund manager, not by the robo-advisor. You would pay these same management fees if you were to invest yourself anyway. However, fees can go lower if assets under management are high. Some robo-advisors even remove any platform fee for some of their portfolios, typically those that are low risk and power-saving to attract assets and work on converting them into fee-bearing investment portfolios.

Typically, robo-advisors charge a platform fee of 0.5 to 1% per annum, which is inexpensive given that it covers all trading and custody costs. If you were to use the services of a traditional advisor, you would be likely to pay at least 1% per annum, unless you belong to the high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth segments. 

Myth #6: Robo-advisors are not smart and agile enough to weather market volatility

Outrightly false!

You may read that robo-advisors are not smart or agile enough to handle volatility like a Covid-19 crisis. In reality, it is often the contrary. A well-built robo-advisor buys without emotion when markets go down and trim when it goes up. On the other hand, you and your human advisor may base their trading decisions on emotions and do the opposite. Unless you are a financial genius, research shows that it is best to invest as passively as possible.

Myth 7: Robo-advisors are for those who can invest big

Not really.

As we have noted before, you don’t need a high investment amount to invest in a robo-advisor. Robo-advisors are primarily for those who don’t have enough money or the time to do financial planning and investments. If you have a lot of money, you can get your own human advisor, which will often cost you more but may not provide you with the results you want. If you have more important things to do than to create and manage portfolios, you are better off with a robo-advisor that comes with a portfolio builder that does the job for you. It will work on investing and rebalancing your portfolios against fluctuations of the financial markets. 

Robo-advisors can often do fractional units of mutual funds or fractional shares of ETFs, which allows them to invest very small amounts. Apps like Betterment in the US do not have any account minimum, for instance.

The wealth-as-a-service partners  

If you want to harness the power of robo-advisors for your financial institution and are ready to build your own, we could be the WealthTech partner you need.

At Bambu, we understand the power of technology and how to build it in a way that works for all types of financial institutions. 

Having built white-label robo-advisor solutions for 18 clients (including leading financial institutions like Franklin Templeton, HSBC and Standard Chartered), we are confident of building a robo-advisor solution tailored to your needs. 

Bambu’s founders bring decades of experience in finance and technology. Bambu also has teams in various functions that contribute to building a great robo-advisor: think, UI/UX, AI, R&D and investment, who bring domain knowledge, technical expertise and user-friendly design to all our robo-advisory solutions. As such, Bambu has delivered engaging experiences, and been able to predict financial behaviour and formulate portfolios. 

Speak to us at sales@bambu.co to find out how we can find the right robo-advisory solution fitted for your business and customer’s needs.

Behind every robo-advisor is a team or a set of investment professionals who will provide and guide the investment methodology. After all, 

“Robots capable of manufacturing robots do not exist. That would be the philosopher’s stone, the squaring of the circle.”

―Ernst Junger, “The Glass Bees”

Sources: 

Investing has long been a human-led experience where people trust financial institutions and their portfolio managers to advise them on potential opportunities. However, this slow-moving approach is quickly becoming a thing of the past with the rise of robo-advisors.

But what is a robo-advisor? Simply put, they are an emerging digital technology that provides people from differing investment backgrounds with an automated advisory service. From investment management and strategic advice to retirement planning, these digital-first tools work towards achieving a client’s specific financial goals. Backed by powerful data-driven technologies like machine learning, robo-advisors streamline the investing process and deliver long-term returns at a low-cost. 

Naturally, if your business is looking to launch a robo-advisor in the near future, it’s best to understand their precise purpose. Here, we outline some of the basics behind how the latest robo-advisors operate.

Explaining the AI in your robo-advisor

When a customer invests using a robo-advisor, the software works to achieve their objectives based on machine learning and optimised indexing strategies. But before the software can determine a suitable approach, the customer must complete a detailed questionnaire that assesses their ultimate financial goals, risk tolerance, timeframe, budget and tax liabilities.  

Once this information is established, the robo-advisor proposes and executes investment strategies that reflect the client’s unique goals. Meanwhile, the AI constantly monitors the probability of achieving the desired outcome and adjusts its approach accordingly. Throughout this process, there’s typically no direct human contact between the financial institution and the client. 

However, it’s important to realise that every financial institution’s robo-advisor will have subtle differences. With these AIs created using different investment and financial market data, an individual will have to research which robo-advisor is best suited to their needs. 

Are robo-advisors performing well in the market?

Although robo-advisors have only been publicly available since 2008, today you’ll find that most of the world’s largest financial institutions are heavily involved in the development of these investment tools. In fact, the U.S. robo-advisor market topped $1 trillion in 2020 – a figure that is growing approximately 40% year-on-year. Meanwhile, other financial hubs are starting to take notice, with a 2020 study finding that 38% of adult internet users in China are currently using robo-advisers.

As digitalization becomes a top priority for global financial institutions, the development of robo-advisors will be central to this ongoing shift. Currently, 70% of banks consider digital financial advisory services of major strategic importance, while 95% view the future of financial advice as a combination of face-to-face and digital services. Therefore, developing a winning robo-advisor is likely going to be hugely beneficial. 

Considering that 147 million investors around the globe are expected to utilize robo-advisors by 2023 – representing an 11-fold increase since 2017 – entering this digital marketplace now will position your company for a bright future.

Why launch a robo-advisor?

With access to robo-advisors rapidly increasing the world over, there are numerous reasons why your financial institution should also get on-board. One advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated is how your wealth managers can spend more time building relationships with clients to boost the uptake of value-added services. 

With data analysis and reporting aspects of an investment portfolio handled automatically by a robo-advisor, account managers will still have a critical, yet more customer-orientated role when offering financial advice. This means they can spend more time focused on complex or nuanced investment strategies requiring extensive experience, rather than bogged down in rudimentary facts and figures.

With these hybrid investment models combining the strengths of both humans and algorithms, a robo-advisor makes perfect sense for modern customers. Fortunately, this approach also serves evolving consumer expectations, as more people now prefer predominately automated solutions that only involve human contact when necessary.

Quick tips to consider before choosing a robo-advisor

If your financial organization is looking to enter the robo-advisor market, there are dozens of questions to answer before you’re ready to launch. But to give you a quick head start, here are a few simple tips to consider when planning your automated investment advisor. 

1. Understand your customer base

It doesn’t matter whether your business is looking to purchase a white-label robo-advisor or develop its own, having a truly in-depth understanding of your customer base is critical to success. By considering a wide range of demographics, including age, gender, salary, investment preferences and pain points, you can create a solution that makes sense for your customers.

2. Design a digital-first solution

In response to your customer’s demographics, the design of your robo-advisor could change dramatically. With many robo-advisors aimed at inexperienced investors looking to enter the market for the first time, implementing a range of tools that guide them through the basics is essential. Alternatively, experienced clientele will likely prefer comprehensive statistics and analytics at their fingertips.

3. Create an easy-to-use app

Knowing your customer demographics and psychographics is not enough until you create an app that they are willing to use, especially when they may be new to investing. This boils down to ease of use manifested in simplistic design of user interfaces and navigation, onboarding processes, and even readability of dashboards, portfolios and fee models. Providing the user comfort during the investment experience is instrumental to the success of any robo-advisor app.

Partner with Singapore’s Best

Now that you have a basic understanding about what is a robo-advisor, consider how Bambu’s world-class solutions will help your financial institution engage its customers. Having developed robust automated investment advisors for 18 high-end clients, including Franklin Templeton, HSBC and Standard Chartered, we have the expertise to build a powerful solution for your company too.

Backed by years of experience in the finance and technology sectors, Bambu’s specialist team can guide every stage of your robo-advisors’ development, ranging from customer research and UX design to tailored AI-driven algorithms. Contact us at sales@bambu.co to learn how our elegantly designed robo-advisory solutions can service your customer base and achieve your business goals.

What makes each generation unique? From the slang we use to the choices we make, the nature and significance of intergenerational differences has been subject to tireless debate. But as Millennials emerge as the world’s biggest spenders, one crucial difference – their relationship with money – is having a global impact.

For wealth managers, understanding this relationship is key to unlocking a new crop of budding investors. Millennials don’t just want to have more money: they want to find out what this money can help them achieve.

The largest consumer population aren’t investing

Investing can help those who may not have a strong financial security work towards building one for themselves. 

That’s why you’ll be hard pressed to find that Millenials, who are currently the biggest spenders globally, aren’t investing enough for their future.

Insight into Millennial financial behaviour

To better provide financial aid to the world’s largest consumer demographic, service providers would do well to understand their needs and goals.

1. Millennials rely on word-of-mouth

Millennials grew up as social media boomed, and connecting with peers has become a driving force in their buying decisions. A global market research study found 82% of Millennials rely on word-of-mouth, social media and mobile influences to make purchases, compared to 52% of Boomers. In contrast, just 19% of Millennials claim to be influenced by what they see in print media.

If attracting Millennials to invest is your goal, reaching them where they are most found is a first pivotal step.

2. Environmentally conscious

Beyond good products, Millennials prefer brands that commit to the society they serve. In other words, they are more socially aware and conscious of the companies they choose to support. With 81% preferring brands to make public their commitment to good corporate citizenship, investment firms need to do more than just delivering their core services. 

Millennials express their beliefs for causes through their purchasing power. These potential investors are more willing to invest in a company if their money is being channelled to providing more jobs in communities or reducing their carbon footprint.

3. Millennials demand digital automation

Millenials are the most digitally savvy investor group with a preference for technology-based interactions over human interaction.

They are actually open to learning more about investing, but expect financial services to incorporate the most cutting edge technology to make investing as simple and seamless as possible. Being able to check trends and data on the go and seek advice in just a few taps appeals to them, which traditional modes of investing are unable to provide for.

4. Common concerns with investing

Many Millennials understand the urgency and pragmatism into putting your money into places that will grow your wealth; however, the term “investing” has long been an elusive buzzword to many outside the financial sphere.

To the financially uninitiated, investing can seem intimidating and complex. The unwillingness to take risks is underpinned by the lack of and inefficient access to knowledge and advice.

Making investment the norm after saving

Merely saving for the future and having a retirement fund may not be enough of a financial safety net. Factoring inflation rates and possible economic downturns, Millennials who are not actively growing their money may be at high risk of financial insolvency much sooner than later.

This is why it is imperative that financial services do more to make investing an essential practice as saving.

How financial providers can achieve this

1. Reframe the perception of investing

Firstly, service providers need to quell common misconceptions that investments are complex and inaccessible.

Many Millennials believe that a certain degree of wealth or expert knowledge is required before they can start their investment journey and this is simply not true.

It’s a tough journey ahead, but service providers have to prioritize educating and advocating financial literacy to the public. By incorporating digital tutorials and targeted educational content in their customer service models, service providers can make the idea of investing digestible to this customer segment.

The aim is to transition their belief to seeing investment as not only important and essential, but also available to the everyday person. Providing Millennials with an intuitive, affordable digital platform gives providers the chance to shift perceptions and begin associating investing with their customers’ lifestyle, making it as accessible as a streaming subscription or gym membership.

2. Offer tailored hybrid solutions

Millennials may have a penchant for technology-based interactions but they also have a deep need for self-governance. They are more willing to explore new investment strategies and digital advisory platforms as long as they are personalized and offer a sense of “self-investing”.

This makes them the ideal demographic for personalized robo-advisory solutions, which are digital investment portfolios driven by algorithms to assist investors in making the right decisions with little to no human intervention. This is why two of three investors who opt for robo-advisory are Millennials.

However, despite their preference for a digital-based platform, Millennials still require the human touch and advice a human advisor can offer. As Millennials age, life events become increasingly complex: whether it’s marriage, a new business, or more financial commitments, the investing scenario becomes more nuanced.

This is where a hybrid solution comes to play: combining the speed, low cost and mobility of robo-advisory together with the experience of a seasoned wealth advisor should provide them with the best of both worlds.

Advisors ignore the new generation at their peril

Advisors who understand the needs and goals of Millennials and are able to adapt early to tailor to their personal preferences will be positioned to onboard a large share of this market segment. As emerging investors, this new generation offers exponential value to service providers and represents a new crop of potential lifelong customers. A proactive response to their needs could help advisors establish their client base for years to come, while those who fail to adapt their service offering may find themselves left behind.

As the world has evolved, so has our understanding of how financial strategies can help people achieve their goals. Budgeting, investment and responsible borrowing are just some of the strategies we use to grow wealth, and it seems more accessible than ever as digital innovation surges. 

Why, then, are we seeing a widening in the financial advice gap across the globe?

What is the financial advice gap?

Financial advice is any kind of help with the planning of individual life circumstances; preparing for retirement, saving for a rainy day, tax planning, and perhaps the most important of all – how to invest in order to grow wealth.

The ‘advice gap’ then refers to the disparity between people who have access to this financial aid and to those who either can’t afford or access financial advice. 

A survey by OpenMoney UK shows a sharp increase in this gap every year. More people are finding financial advice unaffordable and even more are unaware of available financial advice:

  • The “free advice” gap refers to those who could benefit from advice but are unaware it exists – is estimated to have risen to 20.8 million.
  • The “affordable advice” gap which refers to those who could benefit from advice but can’t afford it – is estimated at 5.3 million.

Financial illiteracy is a huge issue

It’s clear that too many adults aren’t making financially-sound plans or investing for their future.

OpenMoney (2020) reveals that about 44% of adults had run out of money before their next pay at least once in the past year and only 24% of adults save every time they get paid. Whether exacerbated by the COVID-19 disaster or not, it’s abundantly clear that many lack the financial knowledge and capacity to weather another economic crisis.

And it’s not as if financial services are unavailable to the public – numerous financial advisors exist, which can generally be categorised into the following:

  1. Fee-based and commercial-based advisors: individuals or groups typically referred to as “financial planners” who take a fee for financial guidance and management.
  2. Robo Advisors: digital wealth management platforms that automate the process of investing and managing money on your behalf – powered by algorithms, with little to no human supervision.

So why does the financial gap still exist?

When asked about seeking financial advice, many adults revealed that they: 

  • Were simply unaware
  • Many didn’t know of existing financial advisors or where to look.

  • Think it is unaffordable 
  • A recurring consensus was that many financial services were exclusive to the wealthy or simply too expensive.

  • Believe it’s unnecessary
  • They trust their ability to manage their own money and believe they “shouldn’t have to pay for something they can google”. 

  • Distrust conventional advisors
  • Possibly the biggest reason – many believe financial advisors are untrustworthy and only wish to “sell you something” out of self-interest. 

    Digital wealth managers may be the answer

    Robo-advisors are digital, algorithm-driven financial advisors that can help provide adequate, affordable and unbiased financial planning to solve many of issues driving the advice gap:

    • Inexpensive

    The selling point of most robo-advisors is that they require low starting capital (some from as low as $100) and minimums which makes financial advice more accessible and affordable to the general public.

    • Advice is automated

    Based on your risk-appetite, robo-advisors assess your information through a survey to offer advice and tailor a suitable portfolio which automatically invests your money digitally. This means little to no human intervention, removing the element of distrust people may have in conventional advisors.

    • Can be recommended by conventional financial advisors 

    By incorporating both a hands-on approach with robo advisory, financial advisors can offer an even more comprehensive, accessible and personalised financial plan for clients; this could help onboard clients who may previously not have the means for financial services. 

    The potential for Robo-advisors to start closing the financial advice gap isn’t just promising for budding investors. Financial advisors can use this strategy to bring affordable, diversified investing and essential financial advice to an untapped market, creating new opportunities that were previously too expensive and time-consuming to pursue. These opportunities aren’t necessarily short-term, either: financial advisors can reach first-time investors and potentially turn them into long-term clients, capitalising on the scalability of robo-advisors.