Robo-Advisors Pivoting Towards More Human Advisors, And More Affluent Clients

Robo-Advisors Pivoting Towards More Human Advisors, And More Affluent Clients

Earlier this year, the original robo-advisor Betterment made the stunning pivot away from a “pure” robo solution, launching Betterment Plus and Premium tiers that would offer access to human CFP professionals, in addition to the Betterment technology itself. Now, as Betterment reaches its 7-year anniversary, the company is introducing a “new look” intended to make it look and feel less like an “upstart” and more like an established player… one that can attract more affluent investors (after the company raised its fees on its most affluent clientele by 66% earlier this year, from 15bps to 25bps). And as Betterment continues to pivot upmarket, it has also indicated it may start offering a wider range of investments, including access to more alternative investments. Notably, though, these pivots aren’t unique to Betterment. Sallie Krawcheck’s “robo-advisor-for-women” platform Ellevest has also quietly rolled out “Ellevest Prime”, hiring human financial advisors who will provide personal financial planning advice to affluent Ellevest clients, who will pay an advisory fee that starts at 0.90% with a $500,000 minimum. And student loan refinancing platform SoFi also announced a launch into wealth management, again by adding human financial planners to offer advice to the above-average-income upwardly mobile customers already using the SoFi platform. In other words, both leading and newcomer robo-advisors are no longer focusing on being a technology-based investment solution for Millennials… they’re becoming tech-augmented human “cyborg” advice platforms that are raising their prices, expanding their product line and service offerings, and trying to serve an increasingly affluent clientele regardless of generation. Just like every other financial services firm in the crowded marketplace.


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