Business

Rise of the robo-advisers


They were largely unheard of a few years ago, but robo-advisers are on the rise in the financial services industry, with OCBC Bank entering the fray.

The lender has started a trial of an online platform that will use computers to offer portfolio management advice.

The pilot is aimed at accredited investors - those with net personal assets of more than $2 million. It will eventually be open to all investors.

Mr Aditya Gupta, OCBC's head of e-business for Singapore, said a fixed timeline for the pilot has yet to be determined.

Selected participants can invest in two categories of portfolios, with their investment starting from $3,000.

One category has five portfolios made up of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and equities listed on Nasdaq and the Dow Jones.

The platform automatically monitors the chosen portfolio and will notify the consumer with possible rebalancing options.

The other category lets users invest in thematic baskets of stocks listed on the Dow Jones and Nasdaq - including technology companies, fast-moving consumer goods firms and blue chips.

"The portfolios can be extended to include Singapore stocks and ETFs in the future," said Mr Gupta.

For the trial, OCBC is working with fintech partner WeInvest - a Singapore-based robo-adviser platform for accredited investors that executed its first trades last November - by using its system.

Banks such as DBS and Citibank Singapore have introduced digital tools for wealth management over the past 12 months, mainly for higher-end consumer segments, but not automated advice.

United Overseas Bank also does not offer robo-advisory services.

Other financial firms that have started offering digital advice include Phillip Securities, which released its digital fund management service yesterday, and Fundsupermart, through its FSMOne platform.

Mr Ho Song Hui, Fundsupermart's assistant director for research and portfolio management, said: "The local market is still in the process of experimenting with such new services.

"The adoption of such services tends to take a while before it becomes mainstream, as local investors tend to adopt a wait-and-see approach with applying new services to personal matters such as investments."

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