Robo-advice app for self-employed launches

Robo-advice app for self-employed launches

A new robo-advice service designed especially for the self-employed and freelancers is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2019.

Vivek Madlani, co-founder and chief executive of Multiply, had a career as a trader at banks such as RBS and Lehman Brothers.

He decided to create the service after realising the impact of financial advice on people's lives and the gap currently existing in this market for self-employed people.

The start-up, which received £1.5m after a funding round in late 2017, is currently in the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Sandbox, and hoping to receive authorisation in the next couple of months.

Mr Madlani told FTAdviser that the current app, available in the Apple store and soon in Android as well, is a guidance product which will transition to an advice service as soon as it is approved.

He said: “We want to provide holistic financial plans, we will initially be covering savings, life insurance, critical illness, income protection, investment recommendations and legal services such as drafting wills.

“Overtime, we want to expand that to include mortgages and referrals to specialist advisers.”

Multiply will only be available via the app, and it is totally based on robo-advice.

It will include an emergency fund calculator, a savings account finder and a pension contribution planner.

Mr Madlani said: “We are limiting ourselves to the more straightforward low risk areas of advice. We aren't touching pension transfers for example, we are more focused in accumulation, in the 30, 40 years old bracket.”

Despite being available to anyone in the UK aged between 18 and 50 years old who earns under £300,000 a year, Multiply has been designed with self-employed as the consumer target.

These workers miss out on some big benefits when compared to permanent employees, like a predictable income, cover for the unexpected, and a pension, he noted, and while financial advice can help, it is expensive.

For more complicated matters, Multiply will connect its customers to financial advisers who can provide face-to-face advice.

The creation of a panel of advisers is a task the start-up will be developing this year, Mr Madlani said.

When an individual downloads the Multiply app, they will be asked for information about employment status, bank account, savings products, among others.

Mr Madlani said: "In terms of the data we collect, it is not a million miles away from what an adviser fact-finding exercise - where we are able to differentiate is in areas like income expenses, where we will be offering the functionality over time of linking a bank account or through to accounting systems.

“We are phasing our questions, so asking an initial batch, providing some initial recommendations, and within those collecting more information if required - it's not all upfront in a huge fact finding questionnaire. In terms of what we provide, it will be personal recommendations.”

Multiply will begin by serving the DIY market in the areas of savings, investments, pensions and insurance.