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《华尔街日报》:如果你使用的智能投顾平台关闭了怎么办?

国际资讯基于互联网平台的金融业务

《华尔街日报》:如果你使用的智能投顾平台关闭了怎么办?

智能投顾平台关闭后会发生什么?

这是近期许多投资者面临的问题,未来还会有更多投资者需要面对。

智能投顾平台颇受投资者青睐,通过结合算法和人工规划,将客户与价格适宜的指数和交易所买卖基金的投资组合相匹配,然后通过计算机程序对这些投资组合进行管理和定期调整,费用极低或无需任何费用。

研究公司Backend Benchmarking数据表明,智能投顾平台负责的资产已超过2000亿美元,但这个有利可图的行业自十几年前刚开始发展时就已开始整合。面对Vanguard Group和Fidelity Investments等更大规模的竞争对手的竞争,Wealthfront Inc.或Betterment等独立的智能投顾平台还能够扩大规模,而其他平台要么关闭,要么与其他组织合并。一旦智能投顾平台关闭,他们的客户将会大伤脑筋。

部分要关闭的智能投顾平台会出售客户的投资并将资金退回给客户,这可能会降低整体绩效。而且如果用户的投资组合出售后获利,可能还会出现意外的税收影响,迫使他们为那些收益缴税。

在其他情况下,要关闭的智能投顾平台的客户可以选择转向托管公司旗下的自主账户。但智能投顾平台的一大卖点就是为客户个性化创建和管理投资组合,这点在自主账户中无法实现。

今年夏天,有几家平台的关闭颇受瞩目。8月份,UBS Group AG关闭了自己面向英国客户的智能投顾平台SmartWealth,仅两年时间,该平台受到的关注开始变得有限。客户收到通知,在30至60天的窗口期后,自己的投资将会出售并退款。7月份,另一家智能投顾平台Hedgeable表示将停止接受存款。Hedgeable的用户可以选择转到由Folio Investments Inc.托管的自主账户,或出售自己的投资。Folio也在尝试推出自己的智能投顾服务,但在此之前,Hedgeable的用户只能使用自主账户。

Hedgeable的智能投顾平台侧重于主动管理资金,与提供免费或低成本交易所买卖基金的大型被动平台竞争。因此,Hedgeable老用户还会面临一个问题,找到另一家提供主动管理的智能投顾平台。使用被动基金的智能投顾平台更为常见,这些平台如果关闭,客户很容易就能找到类似产品,因为被动投资组合的提供商之间并无太大区别。

Backend Benchmarking研究分析师David Goldstone表示,智能投顾平台关闭"肯定算不上好的用户体验",除了被迫出售或接受可能无关的更换服务外,还可能会出现提供商没有解释清楚的意外税收影响。用户如果因为出售的投资组合获益,将需要在当前的纳税年度为这些收益缴税。

他说道:"如果这是用户的第一个账户,那么这些用户很可能不会再投资,这并不是件好事。"

如果已关闭的智能投顾平台的客户了解到托管公司提供自主账户作为替代选择,他们可以将这些费用与其他平台的类似账户进行对比。与在其他平台开设不同账户相比,留在托管公司是否能降低费用和交易成本?

如果投资者打算出售投资组合并重新开始,还应该与顾问沟通,了解他们会如何抵消资本收益。

如果已关闭的智能投顾平台的客户希望尝试一些新产品,混合投资顾问平台是个不错的选择,这种平台是自动投资和财富规划的组合。通常来说,这类平台的投资策略比智能投顾平台更多,并且有员工与您共同讨论该如何规划大学储蓄或退休事宜。

What happens when a robo adviser closes?

Lots of investors have had to deal with this question lately, and still more are likely to soon.

A popular product with investors, robo advisers are a mix of algorithms and human planning that match customers with portfolios of inexpensive index and exchange-traded funds. The portfolios are then managed and periodically rebalanced, for low or no fees, by computer programs.

Assets with robos have grown to more than $200 billion, according to the research firm Backend Benchmarking. But consolidation has taken place since this niche industry’s start roughly a decade ago. While some independent robos such as Wealthfront Inc. or Betterment have been able to scale up, others have closed or merged with other organizations in the face of competition from bigger competitors such as Vanguard Group and Fidelity Investments. And when robos close, their customers usually are faced with a big headache.

Some robos that are closing will sell the clients’ investments and refund their money, which can lead to lower overall performance. There can be unexpected tax implications if users realize gains when their portfolios are sold, forcing them to pay taxes on those returns.

In other cases, clients of robos that are closing can be given the option of moving to a self-directed account with the custodian company. But one of the big selling points of a robo adviser is that portfolios are created and managed for you—and that isn’t the case in a self-directed account.

Over the summer, there were a few high-profile closures. In August, UBS Group AG UBS -1.32% closed its SmartWealth platform, a robo adviser for British clients, after just two years, citing limited interest. Customers were given notice that their investments would be sold and refunded over a 30- to 60-day window. In July, another robo, Hedgeable, said it would no longer accept deposits. Hedgeable gave its users the option of moving to a self-directed account at custodian Folio Investments Inc., or selling their investments. Folio is working on launching its own robo-advisory service, but until it is ready for prime time, users from Hedgeable are in self-directed accounts.

Hedgeable’s robo platform was focused on actively managed funds, and the company struggled to compete with powerhouse passive platforms that offer free or low-cost exchange-traded funds. Thus, former Hedgeable users are also confronted with a unique problem—finding another robo that offers active management. Robo platforms that use passive funds are more common, and customers of one that closes shouldn’t have difficulty finding a similar product because there isn’t much difference among the providers with passive portfolios.

When a robo closes, “it’s not a great user experience, that’s for sure,” says Backend Benchmarking research analyst David Goldstone. In addition to being forced to sell or accept a possibly unrelated replacement service, there can be unexpected tax implications that providers don’t always make clear, Mr. Goldstone says. Users who realize gains when their portfolios are sold will have to pay taxes on those returns in the current tax year.

“There is also the potential that these users don’t reinvest if this is their first account, which is not good for anyone,” Mr. Goldstone says.

If a displaced robo-adviser customer learns that the custodian firm is offering a self-directed account as a replacement, it is a good idea to compare the fees with those of similar accounts elsewhere. Would staying with the custodian lower your fees and trading costs compared with opening a different account elsewhere?

Investors should also speak with an accountant about how they might offset any capital gains if they do opt to sell and start over.

For displaced customers of robo advisers who want to try something new, hybrid advisers have become a popular option. Hybrid advisers are a mix of automated investing and wealth planning. Usually there are more investment strategies available than there are with robo advisers, and the staff are there to talk through how you might plan for college savings or retirement.


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