Top Direct-to-Consumer Wealthtech Plays


Our wealthtech industry coverage continues this week. We looked at the industry last week and reviewed the top trends earlier this month. Today we’re taking a look at industry players with B2C offerings—in other words, companies that market directly to consumers and not through businesses.

Since wealthtech is broader than just roboadvisers, we’ve divided B2C wealthtech players into seven categories and laid out our top picks for each group. Since category sizes vary, the number of our selections also vary.

Top in-house builds from traditional players
These are offerings from traditional wealth management firms that have been built in-house (or purchased and then white-labeled) and marketed under the firm’s brand.

Fully automated roboadvisers
These are online platforms that provide automated, algorithm-based portfolio management without intervention from human advisers and without personalized, one-on-one conversations with a human adviser.

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-4-06-40-pmAcorns takes a unique approach by linking a user’s debit card and investing their “spare change”

Hybrid roboadvisers
These are traditional advisory services, including personalized conversations and actively managed portfolios blended with computerized portfolio recommendations. Business Insider reports hybrid roboadvisers will manage 10% of all investable assets by 2025.

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-4-11-08-pmSigFig has partnered with multiple banks, including Wells Fargo, Pershing, and Citizens Bank

Non-U.S. roboadvisers

Alternative investing platforms
These are platforms that link participants to unconventional investment types, such as private equity, hedge funds, futures, real estate, etc.

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-4-18-08-pmWith Motif, uses invest in grouped stocks and ETFs that revolve around a common theme

Non-U.S. alternative investing platforms

News and information companies
These are online platforms that help users discover news and market trends before they go mainstream. Some include social networking aspects.

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-4-23-47-pmTickerTags helps users discover trends even before they become news

Top Trends in Wealthtech: From API-ization to Virtual Engagement


Wealth management technology provider eMoney Advisor, pictured here at FinovateFall, was acquired by Fidelity Investments in 2015 for $250 million.

With 2017 just around the corner, what trends are likely to drive innovations in wealth management technology, aka wealth tech?

The biggest potential regulatory change is the Department of Labor rule that financial planners must act as fiduciaries. The Trump election victory, accompanied by Republican control over both houses of Congress, may make this rule irrelevant. But most in the wealth management industry are nevertheless making preparations in the event the rule (announced this past spring and to be rolled out next spring) is kept. One concern with regard to the fiduciary rule specifically related to wealth tech is how fiduciary responsibility would work with robo-advisories. Can an automated investment platform determine conflicts of interest between the planner and client? What technological tools will be needed to give robo-advisory platforms this capacity? Maintaining fiduciary responsibility with a robotic investment platform suggests two potential scenarios: increasing use of human advisers in combination with automated technology, and deploying sentiment analysis technologies to better interpret nonverbal communication between planners and clients. Interestingly, both of these solutions are connected to other trends in wealth management, such as virtual meetings/conferences.

Use of virtual meetings

Virtual meetings will help wealth managers respond to a variety of issues, including better engagement and multichannel/channel-of-choice engagement. Virtual meetings could even help managers deal with greater fiduciary responsibilities. The channels can include everything from the use of Skype calls and video conferencing to more elaborate virtual meeting platforms such as those from Finovate alums like SuiteBox (F16) and SaleMove (F16). Both PwC and Deloitte have noticed the trend. “Multichannel delivery will become a strategy for delivering advice to clients in the most convenient, most efficient way possible based on each client’s particular needs at particular moments,” said PwC, in a recent look at wealth management technology trends. Deloitte noted that “new combinations of digital and human-based channels” are not just for millennials, saying that some gen-Xers and boomers “want to engage in new ways” as well.

According to a study conducted by Investment News/Cambridge, only 4% of advisers who responded currently list video conferencing as one of their communication methods, but 32% expect to rely on it more within five years. Douglas Boneparth, partner at Life and Wealth Planning, told Investment News, “I am seeing advisers, especially younger advisers, adapt to a more virtual and technologically savvy way of doing business. Advisers are focused on the level of service we provide and being accessible in more ways … virtual meetings is a great example of that.”

API-driven platform-ization

The ability to integrate financial data using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) has been a huge boon for finance in general and wealth tech in specific. API use and adoption within wealth tech is especially strong where brokerage services are involved, (e.g., order-management system APIs). At a fundamental level, APIs enable linking multiple apps (portfolio management, document management, pricing systems); eliminate manual data entry; and limit mistakes during data transfer and update.

Marion Asnes of Broadridge Financial Solutions emphasized this last point. “Platforms must aggregate performance data across various institutions, and then, integrate planning, portfolio accounting, trading, reporting, and communications functions,” Asnes wrote for Investment News. “A wealth manager would need to aggregate performance data from all the various accounts in one place and base recommendations on that complete picture.” Writing in Quovo, John Horneff presented APIs also as an opportunity for managers to differentiate themselves, “leveraging new, innovative technology to break away from the pack and provide unique offerings.”


Stephane Dubois, CEO of Xignite, during his company’s demo at FinovateAsia 2016. Xignite serves more than one one trillion market data API calls a year.

Xignite (F16) founder and CEO Stephane Dubois says the most salient factors of robo-advisory are: “ETFs, Trading APIs, and Market Data APIs.” Dubois’ firm is an acknowledged leader in the latter. With clients that are a who’s who of wealth management innovators—think Betterment (F11); Motif Investing (F14); Personal Capital (F14); and TipRanks (F13)—Xignite launched its FintechRevolution API Ecosystem in 2015 in an effort to make financial APIs more available to startups.

Growing importance of platforms

Both digital storage and ensuring ready accessibility of data are two trends in wealth management that point to the growing importance of advisor platforms to help wealth managers to their work. This is clearly one area where technology is playing a major role, especially for those focusing on the “accessibility of data” issue. Quoted in Investment News, Overplays co-founder Abby Schneiderman said, “Having data all in one place is one more way advisers can serve their clients’ needs … . I think one thing advisers are looking for is singular places to house all of their client’s information: wishes, documents, investment accounts, etc. in one place.”

Innovations in wealth management and financial advice platforms enable better engagement. Innovative platforms can give advisers more “surface area” for conversation and engagement with their clients. A good example is Polly Portfolio (F16) that uses natural language technology to ask customers about their financial goals and economic outlook to personalize and, importantly, explain portfolio construction. Combined with API-delivery and the inclusion of functionality like video, innovations in platform design will be key to help managers and advisors take advantage of industry trends.

HNW clients and robo-advisory

As robo-advisory becomes both more sophisticated and more accepted, an increasing number of high net worth (HNW) individuals are taking the automated investment route for some part of their finances. Betterment’s Jon Stein says their largest customer has $10 million invested with the company. He adds that many HNW people are already investors, but are now upping their investment from 5% two years ago to 20% (Stein defines HNW as having assets above $500,000).

Catering to high net worth clients, according to some, involves both greater technological sophistication on the part of robo-advisors as well as more extensive customer service. Writing in the CBInsights Blog, the analysts noted that one criticism of robo-advisors is that the very wealthy might have “more complex investment needs and higher customer service expectations.”

Specifically, high net worth clients may require access to more complex investment vehicles, including non-equity investments, as well as more advanced rebalancing and tax harvesting than the average investor. Other services, such as helping HNW clients manage sizable amounts of cash a la MaxMyInterest (F14), would also help encourage more wealthy investors to allocate a portion of their assets to robo-advisors.


Herbert Moore and Jennifer Chin of WiseBanyan during their FinDEVr Silicon Valley debut. WiseBanyan is an independent robo-advisor that caters to millennials.

“Small data”

One large trend wherever clients and customers are involved is the role of small data, the kind of basic client data—demographics, for example—that can be very informative for the financial planner or wealth manager. In terms of increasing engagement, providing more accurate and personalized financial guidance, a little information about a client’s personal circumstances can go a long way.

In addition to providing better service to customers, small data can be the key to making a wealth management or financial planning business more efficient. Knowing which revenues are coming from new versus existing clients, for example, can help managers get the right products and services to the right customers. This is another area where innovators have produced platforms and software to help analyze client data and provide insights, often leveraging visualization technologies.

Robo-advisories: build or buy?

For financial institutions looking to provide wealth management services via robo-advisor, the question is whether to build or buy. While each approach has advantages and disadvantages, many FIs and brokerage firms have already decided:

Examples of firms that have gone the “roll your own” route include Fidelity with its Fidelity Go; Schwab with its Schwab Intelligent Portfolios; Vanguard with its Vanguard Personal Advisors Services; and E-Trade with its E-Trade Adaptive Portfolio.

But acquisitions have been a way for FIs to get up and running with robo-advisory service in a hurry. Some of the more notable recent acquisitions include Legg Mason’s purchase of Financial Guard (F13); Invesco PowerShares acquisition of Jemstep (F13); and Blackrock’s taking on FutureAdvisor (F13).

Other FIs are splitting the difference and instead seek partnerships with robo-advisors. The recent agreement and investment between Citizens Bank and SigFig to help the former build out a robo-advisory platform is an example of this approach.

Changing nature of advice

The growing capacity of robo-advisors to help manage other aspects of personal finance supports a more expansive view of wealth management and financial planning. This includes everything from health care planning, insurance, even real estate, education and leisure. The ability of technology to aggregate financial information is a major catalyst here, giving managers the ability to provide guidance beyond traditional boundaries.

Much of what is driving the changing nature of advice has to do with those being advised. The myriad and interconnected financial concerns affecting millennials—from managing student loan debt to starting a family—mean that financial planning beyond how to invest in a 401(k) is increasingly relevant and necessary. At the other end of the spectrum, active older adults in the “longevity economy” have financial issues that differ from those of seniors a generation ago who often had pensions and other financial support later in life.

This is where companies like iQuantifi (F14)—a self-described “proud robo-advisor” and virtual financial advisor—come in, with a platform that provides planning and guidance over a wide variety of topics, including insurance. Millennials are being catered to by wealth tech firms like WiseBanyan (FD16) while near and recent retirees can look to a company like True Link (F14), which specializes in financial planning for seniors.

Finovate Alumni News


  • “Finovate Debuts: BondIT Helps Relationship Managers Focus on the Relationship”
  • “Finicity Scores $42 Million Series B in Round Led by Experian
  • “Credit Karma Launches Free Tax Filing Service”

Around the web

  • Vasco to power multifactor authentication for BankMobile.
  • Engadget interviews Bo Lu, CEO of FutureAdvisor.
  • Micronotes launches Enterprise 4.0 platform that helps convert digital banking traffic into personal conversations and sales.
  • FIS establishes partner network for early-stage fintech companies.
  • Let’s Talk Payments interviews Stuart Lacey, Trunomi CEO and founder.
  • Blackhawk Network to integrate gift cards, loyalty, and rewards into Apple Pay.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News


  • DemystData Lands New $7 Million Round
  • FinovateEurope 2017 Application Deadline Has Arrived

Around the web

  • EyeVerify Update Improves Liveness Detection
  • TSYS renews card payment deal with Rabobank.
  • Student Loan Hero reviews FutureAdvisor.
  • InComm partners with Geoswift to facilitate cross-border payments for international students.
  • Misys to forsake initial public offering in 2016.
  • FICO introduces FICO Enterprise Security Score to indicate an organization’s vulnerability to cyberattack.
  • NuData Security announces partnership with Early Warning.
  • Zopa presents its 24-hour “Zopathon 16” for developers, designers, and “product people.”

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

FutureAdvisor Brings RoboAdvisory to U.S. Bank Wealth Management


Since its acquisition by BlackRock a year ago, online investment adviser FutureAdvisor has inked partnerships with BBVA Compass and RBC Wealth Management. Recently, we learned that the San Francisco-based robo-adviser founded by CEO Bo Lu has added another major client to its roster: U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

“Digital advice … will play a larger role as the combination of digital and human advice, packaged appropriately together, continues to improve outcomes for both financial advisers and their clients,” Lu said.

FutureAdvisor is an online investment adviser that automatically reviews and manages investment holdings to optimize asset allocation, limit hidden fees, and improve tax efficiency. The platform provides regular portfolio rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting, and immediate and automatic investment of newly added cash. FutureAdvisor also gives clients access to professional licensed advisers and service specialists to ensure that investors get quick answers to their questions about investing and the FutureAdvisor platform. Clients can use the technology to plan for a variety of financial goals, and is free for those using the platform for retirement and college savings. For investment management, FutureAdvisor charges an annual fee of 0.5% of assets directly managed, with advice on managing 401(k) accounts available for free.

Mark Jordahl, president of wealth management at U.S. Bank, said FutureAdvisor’s technology would complement the work of its investment advisers and give investors greater confidence. “We are thrilled to be launching a new strategic partnership with FutureAdvisor to create an automated investing option that we believe will be highly valued by those who are in the process of growing as investors,” Jordahl said. U.S. Bank will use FutureAdvisor to build a variety of investment portfolios consisting of “cost-effective funds specifically designed to help clients work toward their goals.”

Founded in 2010 and based in San Francisco, California, FutureAdvisor demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2013. This summer, the company was featured in a report on automated digital wealth management from Finovate sponsor Financial Technology Partners (FTPartners), and profiled by Business Insider. FutureAdvisor picked up LPL Financial as a client in April, bringing its robo-adviser platform to the company’s 14,000 financial advisers. Prior to the company’s acquisition by BlackRock, FutureAdvisor had raised more than $21 million in funding.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Blackhawk Network Acquires Grass Roots for $118 Million
  • FutureAdvisor Brings RoboAdvisory to U.S. Bank Wealth Management

Around the web

  • Avoka reports record levels of orders for fiscal 2016. Join Avoka in New York for FinovateFall 2016 next week.
  • Financeit earns spot on the TechVibes’ Fintech Five.
  • Chain CEO Adam Ludwin warns against “blockchain hype” on
  • Narrative Science teams up with Franklin Templeton Investments to bring Quill technology to their fund commentary process.
  • SmartyPig switches to Sallie Mae Bank to enable partial withdrawals, direct deposit, and to offer a higher interest rate.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Slice Launches Smart Shopping Assistant Extension for Chrome
  • SelfScore Raises $7 Million to Bring Credit to International Students

Around the web

  • Temenos to provide core banking solutions for international microfinance specialist, Microcred.
  • US Bank Wealth Management to launch automated investing courtesy of new partnership with FutureAdvisor.
  • Entersekt brings its Transakt technology to the Middle East in collaboration with IST Networks.
  • Fortune follows CBW Bank’s journey.
  • Lighter Capital launches $25 million AppExchange Fund for Salesforce partners building AppExchange apps.
  • Crowdfund Insider interviews Rob Frohwein, Kabbage CEO and co-founder.
  • Xero named most-loved accounting software for second year in a row.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News


  • “Shoeboxed Partners with ScanSnap Cloud for Receipt Scanning”
  • “Finovate Debuts: Race Data Helps Community Banks Turn Customer Data into Market Intelligence”
  • “Opentech Teams Up with MasterCard, Swiss Bankers to Launch Card Management App”
  • “HelloWallet Launches Savings and Debt Guidance Tool”
  • “Kasasa Reaches One Millionth Account”
  • Check out this week’s FinDEVr APIntelligence

Around the web

  • Fiserv announces its new biometric authentication solution, Verifast: Palm Authentication.
  • Markit to provide fixed income pricing data and liquidity metrics for the European Commission.
  • INETCO to power real-time transaction monitoring for Turkey’s Central Processor for Bank Payment Cards, Bankalararasi Kart Merkezi (BKM).
  • ThinkAdvisor looks at how Blackrock is taking on Schwab and Vanguard with FutureAdvisor.
  • ebankIT expands its headquarters facilities in Porto to grow R&D team.
  • Corezoid moves platform-as-a-service core banking engine to AWS.
  • Blackhawk Network Appoints Sachin Dhawan as CTO and SVP.
  • PCWorld votes Xero as its top-choice accounting software in 2016.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.


FT Partners New Research Report on Digital Wealth Management Features a Dozen Finovate Alums

The new research report on digital wealth management from Financial Technology Partners is a timely reminder of just how deep the firm’s dedication to, and insight into, the fintech world goes (that the report features a dozen Finovate and FinDEVr alums is pretty neat, too).

FT Partners’ report “Are the Robots Taking Over? The Emergence of Automated Digital Wealth Management Solutions” looks at the different platforms and business models used by digital wealth management companies, as well as the response by industry incumbents. The 140+ page report also features interviews with CEOs from leading major digital wealth-management companies such as Betterment, Nutmeg, and SigFig.

Writing about this FT Partners’ report on digital wealth management for Bloomberg View, columnist and money manager Barry Ritholtz noted:

“For those of you who may not have thought much about how technology might affect Wall Street, the work you do each day, and how you do it—not to mention what it means for your careers—this report is invaluable.”

Ritholtz outlined how his own experience as a money manager had been shaped by the rapidly changing technology landscape (“My office is small, but thanks to technology, and fintech in particular, we are able to be very productive with just 14 people,” he wrote). He also admits this productivity comes at a cost for some. “Those people who don’t adapt will find themselves with limited career options,” Ritholtz writes.

So who are the disruptors in the digital wealth management space of whom both FT Partners and Ritholtz speak?



















  • Founded in 2008
  • Headquartered in Los Altos, California
  • Kevin Cimring and Michael Blumenthal are joint CEOs
  • Acquired by Invesco, January 2016
  • FinovateSpring 2013




  • Founded in 2009
  • Headquartered in New York, New York
  • Alexa von Tobel is CEO and founder
  • Acquired by Northwestern Mutual, March 2015
  • FinovateFall 2013
















  • Founded in 2005
  • Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida
  • Donato Montanaro is CEO
  • Acquired by Ally Financial, April 2016
  • FinovateSpring 2008


Finovate Alumni News


  • “Tagit Locks in More than $8 Million in New Funding”


  • “Symbiont to Help Delaware Embrace the Blockchain”

Around the web

  • “OutsideIQ Launches Real-Time Risk Monitoring Tool”
  • Check Point launches free Security Checkups for Australian and New Zealand enterprises.
  • Business Insider covers the birth of BlackRock’s FutureAdvisor.
  • NuData Security more than doubles behavioral transaction volume in the past year, following rapid adoption of its NuDetect solution.
  • Ayondo doubles Revenues in 2015 to £7.3 million.
  • Jack Henry extends Banno platform to Windows 10.
  • Avalara discusses plans to use blockchain technology to track asset ownership.
  • Matchi to host the Liberty Fintech Challenge 2016.
  • quotes Bazaarvoice CMO Sara Spivey on marketing to millennials with user-generated content.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.