如今，财富管理市场可谓竞争激烈，不仅有新兴金融服务公司的挑战，同为老牌行业参与者的Vanguard Group和Charles Schwab Corp.也先后推出了类似的在线服务。
Morningstar Inc.分析师Michael Wong估计，Wealthfront和Betterment两家公司的资产管理规模应该分别达到400亿美元，这样才能产生覆盖其运营和市场营销成本。
Robo advisory firm Wealthfront Corp. is making its automated financial planning free to anyone who downloads the company’s app.
The Redwood City, Calif.,-based company had provided its financial planning service to clients who opened an account and paid the firm 0.25% annually to select their investments and manage their assets.
Tuesday’s announcement means that anyone who downloads Wealthfront’s app can connect their accounts at other companies and receive free recommendations. By opening its financial planning tool to people who are not Wealthfront customers, the firm hopes to lure new clients.
“We believe that if we provide you with a great experience, you will eventually open an investment account with us,” which entails paying the 0.25% management fee, said Dan Carroll, co-founder of the firm.
Wealthfront and other automated-investing startups face heightened competition from more established financial services companies, including the Vanguard Group and Charles Schwab Corp. , which have rolled out similar services of their own.
Vanguard manages about $120 billion in its Personal Advisor Services. By contrast, Wealthfront manages just under $11.5 billion, up from $10.5 billion in April, and has about 250,000 customers, and its rival Betterment LLC manages $15 billion and has 400,000 customers.
Michael Wong, an analyst at Morningstar Inc., has estimated that Wealthfront and Betterment need as much as $40 billion in assets each to generate enough revenue to cover operating and advertising expenses.
While most other robo advisers have adopted a hybrid model that pairs automated services with telephone or online advice from human advisers, Wealthfront has stuck with a fully-automated approach.
Among other things, Wealthfront’s financial planning service can tell clients how much they should save, how much they can afford to spend on a home, and how much to save for a child to attend college, using projections of future costs for specific U.S. schools along with estimates of the family’s financial aid. The service also assesses the impact of each financial decision on a client’s retirement plans.
Mr. Carroll notes that Wealthfront is able to make its financial planning free without incurring the costs that companies employing human advisers would.
Wealthfront’s ultimate goal is to automatically pay the bills of clients who deposit their paychecks into a Wealthfront account and allocate the client’s savings to emergency, retirement, college and taxable accounts, while selecting and managing the client’s investments, said Mr. Carroll.