Robo-advice  

Robo pledges to replicate IFA work at fraction of cost

Robo pledges to replicate IFA work at fraction of cost

A robo-adviser has said it will be able to replicate most of what a financial adviser does once it has rolled out its full set of products and services.

Moneybox launched in 2015 and allows people to start saving by rounding up their purchases to the nearest pound and investing this spare change.

Ben Stanway, the company's co-founder, said Moneybox had added 70,000 new clients in 2017 - its first full year - which he said was ahead of its robo-advice rivals. Moneybox does not give advice, it holds guidance permissions only.

The company now plans to launch a pension in the first quarter of next year, which will incorporate additional planning tools.

He said: "The next major project is to launch a pension in quarter one next year and a focus will be adding in additional financial planning tools.

"We think we can replicate a good chunk of what an IFA does at a cost of about 95 per cent lower.

"Part of what an IFA does we won't be replicating any time soon but the core work of investment and product selection and putting together a plan to get our clients from where they are to where they want to be is very possible to do."

Mr Stanway said Moneybox would provide goal-based planning with its existing guidance permissions, rather than seek to become regulated to provide financial advice.

Moneybox initially acquires customers by encouraging them to save their spare change before suggesting they start saving bigger and bigger amounts to meet their goals.

Mr Stanway said this made the process of acquiring customers easier than for other robo-advisers and he said Moneybox currently had 132,000 customers.

He said: "The most important project for our roadmap is pension consolidation. Auto-enrolment has been a success but an unintended consequence of that success has been an exponential rise in the number of orphaned pension pots."

Sebastian van Mook, a financial adviser with Abacus Associates, said: "Whether a robo-adviser will be able to replicate what an IFA does depends on what the client is looking for.

"My experience is that the majority of individuals have individual needs and how can a software programme filter down someone's bespoke financial planning needs. A lot of people do have fairly generic needs but from my experience most people don't."

damian.fantato@ft.com