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Italian robo-adviser gives update on UK plans

Italian robo-adviser gives update on UK plans

The founder and chairman of MoneyFarm has said his experience of setting up the platform disproved some of his assumptions about the people who use robo-advice.

Paolo Galvani admitted that when his digital wealth management venture was founded in 2012 he expected it to be a service which appealed to millennials.

But since launching the service in Italy, and expanding it to the UK earlier this year, he admits his initial thoughts on who would use robo-advice were wrong.

“In Italy we thought [it would appeal to millennials] but the facts proved us wrong. Our clients in Italy are more middle aged,” stated Mr Galvani.

“Millennials have struggled to put money aside and their first priority might be a house, rather than saving.

“In the UK our aim is to have a client which is not too different, maybe a bit younger.”

Mr Galvani also said he had anticipated clients would only be interested in interacting with the company digitally, but this also proved not to be the case.

“We certainly thought it would be something a lot purer from a digital point of view, but we have to offer what the client wants and there are people who are happy not to have any interaction, but there are people who want to talk to someone over the phone.”

The service offers six portfolios, with clients recommended an option after working through a questionnaire to establish their attitude to risk.

It also offers regulated investment advice, which its clients can access digitally or over the phone.

Mr Galvani said the service is currently running two different models in the UK and in Italy, because of the timings of receiving its regulatory permissions, although the company is aiming to have both available in Britain by the autumn.

“In the UK we have a discretionary model, so they are in a fund, which is managed. In Italy, the model is slightly different, so the client can decide to implement what has been recommended.

“From the client’s point of view it is like deciding whether to be on autopilot or not. It will be interesting when we have them together in the same country, because we will know if there is a preference.”

He added that the company is looking to expand to a third European country, but has not yet decided which one.