The battle of the Singapore digital financial advisory platforms is gathering pace as each day goes by. There are actually various robo-advisors in existence in Singapore, but the majority of them cater to high net worth individuals and aren’t exactly targeted at retail investors. I kept a list of them somewhere but it eludes me somehow.
To the best of my knowledge, there are currently three real contenders battling it out for the retail investors market. I collected some information on them for my personal consumption – you might find them useful for a quick comparison. Huge disclaimer to take this blog post with a pinch of salt 🙂
How do StashAway, Smartly and AutoWealth compare with each other?
Player #1 : AutoWealth
I learnt of AutoWealth quite some time ago but didn’t explore it further due to its initial high requirements of $30,000 minimum investment sum. Placed it on the back-burner last year, and it wasn’t until in the middle of 2017 when MAS officially supported growth of robo advisory firms that the amount was lowered to $3,000. As the most mature robo-advisor of the three, it is currently ‘live’ and accepts appointments for opening of accounts based on their website.
Player #2 : Smartly
I met with Keir, founder and CEO of Smartly in the middle of last year for a drink and have since tried out the platform in its Beta form last year.
I’m sure quite a fair bit of change must have happened since then, and that Smartly is currently selectively on-boarding people on its waiting list. I do not currently have a ‘live’ account with Smartly and will be happy to do a review if I successfully get in. Important thing to note is that they have linked up with VCG Partners.
Player #3 : StashAway
StashAway is the last to muscle its way into the Robo Advisory scene in Singapore according to my shoddy records, but they have moved at lightning speed. Had lunch with Michele last month, shamelessly accepted an invite for Beta testing and put in $500 + $100 of my own money to evaluate the platform. Yup, it is a ‘live’ account.
I didn’t write on my experience because of the understanding that the platform is still in Beta, and it wouldn’t be fair to them. Like Smartly, I believe they have also started on-boarding some users on their waiting list. If so, then you’re going to see more of them really soon.
Some Last Words
The reason I needed a one-glance comparison is so that I can quickly determine what are the important factors on whether I will invest with them and how long I would continue to do so. One area where information is not so readily is how strong the tech team is. At the end of the day, a FinTech company is still a tech company.
As an ex-software engineer who has written code and worked with users, I respect the necessity of Beta testing for weeding out of bugs and issues.
I don’t envy the position of Smartly or StashAway. There is a delicate balance to be had.
On one hand, you want to launch as soon as possible to gain first-mover advantage and grab as much market share as you can.
On the other hand, you risk exposing the flaws and problems associated with a platform that is not fully tested – which can devastate user confidence because they can and will associate bugs, however cosmetic or trivial they might be on the UI side, to the backend where the real work is done. Doubts will then begin to form, even when the back-end is 100% fine, because the user can’t see that.
As the asset under management grows, a strong tech team will be able to shine in terms of maximizing efficiency and lowering costs.
A word of advice – as a digital advisory platform, your website is your shopfront. Make sure it is a ridiculously, freaking good one. No matter how good your team and system is, it doesn’t matter if no one clicks the sign up button.
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