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Digital Wealth Platform Agora Comes To Quebec – Wealth Tech Digest #22

Key takeaways

✅ Digital Wealth Platform Agora Comes To Quebec

Our first article today reports that the digital wealth platform Agora will be expanding to Quebec. Agora is a B2B carrying dealer built exclusively to work in partnership with mutual fund dealers and financial advisors. The firm provides advanced digital tools and high net worth account and portfolio capabilities that are expensive to build as a dealer. According to writer Leo Almazora, the firm will be taking its bilingual, compliant, and dynamic tech-based capabilities to independent dealers in Quebec. Almazora says that Agora offers solutions to address the needs of advisors working with small and mid-market investors. Independent dealers are facing challenges in the form of regulatory requirements, margin pressures, and competition from robo-advisors. And Agora’s wealth management platform includes low-cost nominee and fee-for-service account options.

The firm also collaborates with dealers and their advisors to create customized solutions that free up time for advisors and allow them to focus more on clients. These can involve integrated workflow ecosystems and streamlined administration options. Zak Mouline is the VP of Business Development at Agora. And he says that Agora will help advisors and their dealers focus on clients while the platform does the heavy lifting in the background.

✅ Insight From 2 Of Asia’s Most Exciting Founders Of B2C Robo-advisors

Next today we are going to cover interviews with two pioneers in the world of Asian B2C wealthtech. Direct-to-consumer digital investment services may represent a truly disruptive challenge to established fund management companies. But as of today, retail-facing robo advisors currently only make up about 1 percent of the industry’s assets. And while there is no Asian champion like Wealthfront in the U.S., wealthtech founders in Asia are optimistic. Michael Ferrario from StashAway says that when they began fundraising 4 years ago, 99 percent of investors thought B2C wouldn’t work in Asia because it didn’t work in the US. But StashAway went on to prove them wrong, reaching $1 billion dollars in assets under management in late 2020. This touches upon the common conception that B2C customer acquisition costs for retail would run too high to make the unit economics worth it.

But Ferrario says that StashAway’s customer acquisition costs are a fraction of what robo-advisors face in America. And according to Syfe founder Dhruv Arora, wealthtech platforms are becoming alternatives to savings accounts. Syfe has been experiencing success with its real-estate investment trusts in partnership with Singapore Exchange. Arora says that this is all part of a shift in how people think about money. According to him, people are at home due to COVID, bank interest rates are declining, and people are hunting for yield. And in Asia, the culture of savings means that 40 percent of household wealth sits in banks, compared with only 10 or 15 percent in the West. As these accounts lose money, people become more interested in accessing stocks and other assets. And if these Asian wealthtech founders are correct, that means a strong future for robo-advisors in the region.

✅ Is Fintech Here To Stay? JPMorgan Chief Jamie Dimon’s Letter To Shareholders

And we close today with an article from that zeroes in on JPMorgan’s Chase chief Jamie Dimon. Dimon recently sent out his annual letter to shareholders in which he shares many of his thoughts on banks and the threat of Big Tech competitors. He laments the regulatory constraints placed on banks and reminds readers that the quantum of risks may not have changed. Dimon argues that as payments, deposits, and loans move out of the banking system and into neobanks and nonbanks, the risks are just being moved to less-regulated environments. And in order to compete, banks need to accelerate their shift to cloud-based banking, as well as increasing investments in AI and machine learning tools. Dimon also urges banks to be faster and bolder when it comes to new markets. And while he remains confident that JPMorgan Chase will grow and earn a good return for shareholders, he admits that the competition will be intense. He says that acquisitions are in the company’s future and that fintech is an area they will be investing in.

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