Robo-Advice – Thematic Research

The market for direct-to-consumer robo-advice is crowded and ripe for acquisition, with many players pivoting to B2B. But the idea that robo-advice has failed is a misnomer. The tech and consumer mega-trends driving digitization are much bigger than any one robo-advisor – and they are irreversible. The question is how that’ll play out in the wealth space.

At the HNW end, wealth is a very human business. Change has been slow, but digital modules (or pieces of robo) are automating menial tasks and empowering advisors to have more high-value, high-impact interactions across a much larger book of clients. Incumbents are even white-labeling proven digital tools to independent advisors.

At the mass affluent end, the economics of that business make digital the only viable distribution model. This segment – soon to inherit vast wealth and already managing most of their lives through digital – represent the next generation of HNW individuals, and incumbents that are under-invested in digital today risk becoming less relevant to key decision-makers.


For HNW individuals, digital change has been slower, more contested, and patchier than elsewhere in financial services.

Social media has improved the research process both for individual financial advisors and for assessing robo performance.

As digital tools become more important across various parts of the value chain, providers are transitioning slowly towards cloud-native, API micro-services.

Investment advice is a heavily regulated part of financial services, with specific processes and procedures governing transparency, suitability of advice, and eligibility.

Reasons to buy

Understand the evolving robo-advice market and increasing digitalization in the wealth space.

Identify the key trends driving robo-advice.

Receive detailed insights related to changes in different aspects of the value chain.

Understand the changing market by learning about different providers entering the robo-advice space.

Companies mentioned

Betterment, Ellevest, Pearson Capital, Moneyfarm, Nutmeg, Scalable Capital, Wealthfront, SigFig, WealthBar, Stockspot, Wacai, TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, Charles Schwab, Deutsche Bank, ABN Amro, Ally Financial, Capital One, Danske Bank, DBS, Lloyds, HSBC, Merrill Edge, NatWest, Santander’s DIA, OCBC, Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Caifu Hao, Ant Fortune, Rakuten, Overstock, Aviva, Ping An Insurance, Robinhood, Wealthsimple

Table of Contents



Technology trends

Strategic trends

Regulatory trends

Customer trends

Industry analysis

Startup robos offer a better user experience than incumbents

Robo-advice will disrupt incumbent wealth services

Robo-advice is a prerequisite to attracting millennials

Incumbents source robo capabilities through partnerships

Cybersecurity is a bigger threat than robo-advice

Wealth managers are investing in various technologies

Market size and growth forecast

Deals, mergers, and acquisitions


Value chain

Impact of robo capabilities

Customer acquisition


Needs analysis

Strategy and planning

Implementation and monitoring

Disrupting the existing value chain

Companies section


Asset management firms

Retail banks and credit unions

Private banks/investment banks

Tech companies

Adjacent verticals

Appendix: Our thematic research methodology


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