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Build it and they will come? Not happening.

3. Build it and they will come? Not happening.

7 mins read

I remember a friend telling me this story:

He wanted to be a rock star. He wrote a song with his band and sent it to his best friend. He called a few days later and asked what he thought of it. His best friend said, ‘Oh, I haven’t had time yet’ – Even his best friend didn’t listen.

That always stuck with me. Build it, and they will come. Not happening.

Build it. Brand it. Market. Ship it. Refine it. Change it. Do all of those every day and success is a possibility.

Robo-advisory is not immune to this immutable truth. I often hear that banks have built Robo-advisors that didn’t work. Much money was spent, and years taken. End result? Limited take-up and AUM. Mainly due to the “build and they will come” mentality. This is a huge shame as customers need digital wealth just as much as they need digital banking and instant payments.

If you are tasked with building a Robo-advisor for your financial institution, how do you give it the best chance of success?

Building is just one small part of the equation. As I ranted about in the last issue of WealthTech Wednesday, the building should be a clone of the most successful Robo-advisors out there. That’s your starting block. Build what works.

So let’s assume you can build that. What is the next step, or even the previous step, to make it successful? Storytelling.

Robo-advisory has enormous power in storytelling.

Digital wealth is here to make your financial goals and dreams come true. Does it get any better than that?

Two tag lines for your Robo-advisor, choose one:

‘Our app sells you funds that beat the market and help you to diversify’


‘Our app helps you achieve your financial goals and a better life for you and your family’.

Robo-advisory is the future of wealth, just like digital banking and seamless payments.

So build with that story in mind. Your story isn’t that you are best in the market, active versus passive, robo algos. It’s wealth being accessible, digital, data-driven, empathic, customer-centric, and achievable.

So, you have built a product and you have a storyline, but you have to bring that together before you spend on marketing. There is a way to make this happen – Goals. Make goals a reality and not just pay lip service to them.

How many banks actually know your goals and your thoughts? Facebook does. Instagram does. But banks don’t. Why? They should. Wealth is the path to your goals. How about this as a radical idea?

Rebalance to goal, not to market. A Robo-advisor should help you achieve your goal, not beat the market. Build an app that, in real life, helps customers achieve their goals. When was the last time a bank called you to say sorry about not achieving your goal? That’s what Robo-advisory is. Imagine that. You built something that did what it said at the time. The killer idea, right? No. That is what it should have always been.

Do you think your customer, a first-time investor, is bothered about the Sharpe ratio on an ETF? If they’re rich, yes. If they’re not, they aren’t.

Combine technology with data and beautiful designs. With seamless integration. With passion. With storytelling. With positive outcomes. Customer-first.

Build, brand, market, listen, and do what the customer wants. Why? Not just because it is right, not just because it will be way more satisfying to build, but because it will actually do what your financial institution wants. It will sell a huge amount of funds because you are actually helping your customers in the way they want.

Build and they will come?

It can be true.
Build it.
Build it with customers in mind.
Build it and tell the story about what it does and not what it is.
Build it.
And be humble enough to know where you probably got it wrong.
Then change it.


Digital wealth is brand new. We’re still figuring it out, but at its essence, it is obvious.

Help your customer achieve their financial goals.

If you build that, they will come.

Go get it.

Ned Phillips
Founder & CEO










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