Demystifying Robo Advisory and AI Representation in Digital Wealth Management

Investing can be a complicated and daunting task – especially if customers are doing it on their own. Not everyone can afford an advisor or a wealth manager so it’s understandable that most people are hesitant to start investing independently. Financial institutions tend to focus on high net worth individuals when it comes to wealth management because cost per client is high.

Is there a way to take the guesswork out of investing and have someone (or something) manage portfolios for customers? Yes. That’s where robo-advisors come in.

What Is a Robo-Advisor?

Robo-advisors are digital platforms that provide automated, algorithm-driven wealth management services with little to no human supervision. A typical robo-advisor starts by asking questions about your financial situation and future goals through an online survey; it then uses the data to offer investment recommendations, advice, and then automatically invests for you. (Source)

The global robo-advisory market is expected to grow from $18.71 billion in 2021 to $28.10 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50.20%. The market is expected to reach $135.11 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 48.08%. (Source). This growth indicates the surging popularity of such wealth services and financial institutes ought to take note.

Initial robo-advisors were made simply and functioned straightforwardly. They only had a few services to offer, and most robo-advisors stopped short at providing advice. Customers would then need to contact an advisor and begin the KYC process again before finally jumpstarting their investment journey.

However, the cutting-edge technological innovation great robo-advisors have introduced is the capability to execute a trade and automatically rebalance investor assets as the market moves. We believe it’s these trading and rebalancing capabilities that truly set them apart from the others.

Is there AI in Robo Advisory?

Contrary to its name and common industry misunderstandings, robo-advisors are not physical robots who give investment advice. They are digital applications that provide customers with financial advice based on algorithms. Sometimes these algorithms are assumed to be artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) based, and most people use it interchangeably when they should not.

So is there AI in robo advisory? The answer is nuanced. While AI/ML will without doubt continue to evolve and be incorporated into robo advisory algorithms, the majority of robo advisory platforms are based around mathematical models. These are expressed as a set of instructions— a coded recipe—that gets evaluated and executed when triggered. This is important as it provides transparency to the end customer and financial regulators. While algorithms can be highly complex, executing instructions as if it is rational, it essentially creates automation, not intelligence.

In digital wealth management, investment constraints and limitations are written into automated decisions but these parameters still come from a human. At Quantifeed, we have a stellar team of quantitative analysts and developers who brilliantly design and orchestrate the trade order and management process, automated rebalancing, aggregation and allocation, and so much more. The process is extremely complex with little to no room for error, but Quantifeed’s strengths lie in simplifying the complex so that our partners can deliver the best wealth management experience to their customers.

Benefits of Investing with a Robo-Advisor

There are many reasons a customer would consider investing with a robo-advisor. Robo-advisors can provide guidance and assistance when it comes to investments, and they can help customers make better investment decisions overall. Here are just a few of the benefits of investing on a robo-advisor platform:

Access to Notable Investment Models

Many robo-advisors’ algorithms are based on Nobel Prize-winning investment theory to drive their models. In general, robo-advisors strive to create an investment portfolio with the greatest return for the smallest risk. Offering these types of portfolios to customers would fill a big market gap!

Saves Time

Investing can be time-consuming, especially when investors do it themselves. Robo-advisor platforms like Quantifeed’s QEngine have high quality recommendation engines that take the guesswork out of research and investment planning for the customer, simplifying a complex process.

Saves Money

Before robo-advisor platforms, professionally managed investment assistance wouldn’t be available for less than 1% of assets under management. Robo-advisors charge lower fees than traditional financial advisors, offering customers more opportunities to access high-value investment services. This helps financial institutions to reach more customers and scale their business.

Why Robo Advisors are the Way Forward

The rise of the digital age has given rise to a new breed of investor – the independent investor. These investors are comfortable making their own decisions about their wealth and don’t necessarily need or want the help of a human advisor. This is an opportunity to offer them a digital wealth management solution that can capture their interests.

Next generation investors value their time and autonomy. That’s why robo-advisory adoption is on the rise. They’re convenient. Investors can access their accounts and buy or make changes to their portfolios anytime, anywhere. The ongoing monitoring and automatic rebalancing of their portfolios also mean they can enjoy reaping the benefits of a well-balanced portfolio without constantly spending time managing it. This means there is no need to assign a human advisor, freeing up your advisor workforce’s time to build their business.

Robo-advisors are also attractive because they’re unbiased. They aren’t influenced by personal biases or emotions – they simply follow the numbers, giving investors the assurance they want and need. The last global financial crisis hit the world in 2008 and the effects of it are still felt today. It’s clear that investors would like to take their own financial future into their own hands with the help of technology.

More importantly, robo-advisory platforms are democratising wealth management. New technology in this space is giving the mass affluent segment the opportunity and access to wealth management services and advice. This also gives financial institutions an opportunity to onboard customers at an earlier stage of their wealth cycle, transition with them through the different phases of their life, and ultimately create loyalty.

The Opportunity Quantifeed Offers

So, are financial institutions and wealth managers ready to adopt the right technology that will enable them to meet the surging demand of digital wealth management? Selecting the right technology partner is crucial to ensuring a successful product.

QEngine provides end-to-end architecture and rich capability for straight-through order and trade processing, portfolio monitoring, fee management, and reporting. Its API-first development framework provides flexibility to create tailored solutions for financial institutions and can seamlessly connect with existing backend systems. Whether cloud, on-premise, or hybrid infrastructures, QEngine can be deployed anywhere and has the flexibility to adapt to evolving modernisation plans in the organisation.

Quantifeed is the leading provider of digital wealth management solutions in Asia. We have deep expertise in the region and have helped several major financial institutions to service the wealth needs of their customers. QEngine addresses the market’s desire for a simpler, personalised, and more engaging wealth management experience. Our robust trading capability and portfolio management capabilities have transformed the digital wealth management landscape in Asia.

We visited three wealth trends currently happening in the region, one of them highlighting a significant generational wealth transfer. With money bequeathed to the next generation, financial institutions must be ready to service these customers in a way that meets their expectations and preference. Robo-advisory has shown itself to be one of the next generation’s preferred methods of investing, so naturally, supply must meet the demand.

Are you interested in building a life-long relationship with your customers? Speak to us to learn more.

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    Ross Milward

    Chief Technology Officer &
    Co-Founder

    Ross Milward leads Quantifeed’s technology and engineering efforts to deliver innovative digital wealth management solutions. Before co-founding Quantifeed, he spent more than 15 years in investment banking, holding senior positions in equity and equity derivatives technology.

    His expertise is in developing and managing large-scale enterprise-level global trading and risk systems. A former managing director, Ross has worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. He has held multiple global and regional leadership roles, most recently as head of equities technology in Asia. He has worked in Hong Kong, Sydney and London.

    Ross holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with Honours and is a Fellow of the Securities Institute of Australia. He likes pushing his limits through long distance triathlon races.

    Michael McDonald

    Head of Web Engineering

    Michael McDonald builds Quantifeed’s online wealth management web application in order to deliver a user-friendly and integrated experience. Michael has over 11 years of experience in web application development.

    As Developer for Crossroads Hong Kong, he and his team set up the infrastructure for its donation and stock management application. As Developer at e-commerce company Synapse Connect in New Zealand, he and his team helped clients build mobile applications like prospersoftware.nz, providing him with a full-stack web development and DevOps skillset, servicing clients and back-office operations.

    Michael holds a Bachelor degree in Electrical and Computing Engineering from University of Canterbury New Zealand. He moved to Hong Kong in 2014 and enjoys the outdoors sports such as hiking and cycling.

    Joy Sun

    Head of Quantitative Engineering

    Joy steers Quantifeed’s research and development in systematic investment strategies, portfolio construction and trade execution. Prior to joining Quantifeed, she worked as a quantitative analyst in asset management and proprietary trading firms.

    She led development of trading strategies, including design,simulation and risk control, and research in market trend recognition and prediction. Joy earned her PhD in Operations Research from the University of Hong Kong, her MS in Statistics from Nan Kai University and her BS in Computational Mathematics from Dalian University of Technology.

    John Threlfall

    Head of Site Reliability Engineering

    John leads the SRE team in Singapore and is responsible for the overall infrastructure and SDLC of Quantifeed’s technology platform, QEngine. He ensures the design, availability, and reliability meets the requirements of both our internal and external users. He has over 20 years’ experience in the banking industry, with a demonstrated history in transforming back-office technology and developing reliable engineering systems for large financial institutions.

    Prior to joining Quantifeed, John held technical and leadership roles at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Standard Chartered Bank. He holds a BSc degree in Artificial Intelligence from The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. John moved to Singapore in 2008 and enjoys travelling with his family, football and scuba diving.

    Lars Bischoff

    Head of Core Engineering 

    Lars Bischoff is a lead senior software engineer on Quantifeed’s back-end services, with a focus on trading and external interfaces.

    Before joining Quantifeed, Lars had a number of leadership roles across major investment banks including Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, UBS, and Citi. These roles included designing and implementing systems for Equities and Equity Derivatives Trading. Lars also held roles as country lead for Equities and Equity Derivatives Technology, as well as global lead for Equity Derivatives Trading.

    As a former Executive Director in Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan, Lars has extensive experience in building local and global development teams. In this capacity, he also defined and realised the technology direction and innovative platforms in the Equity and Equity Derivatives space for these two organisations. Lars holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, from Macquarie University, Sydney.

    Chetan Shetty

    Head of Product Management

    Chetan leads Quantifeed’s product management capability and drives the implementation of features in our product that continuously solve digital wealth management problems for our clients.

    Chetan started his career as a software engineer in the aerospace industry working across the entire software development lifecycle. Subsequently he worked in various roles helping large enterprises in Hong Kong solve business problems with process and technology solutions. His experience ranges across aviation, insurance, public sector services and consulting. He has lived and worked across multiple countries and enjoys travelling to new places, tasting new cuisines and occasionally writing his blogs.

    Parul Srivastava

    Head of Delivery & Singapore Country Head

    Parul Srivastava leads Quantifeed’s Delivery function. She enables Quantifeed customers to successfully adopt and launch innovative digital wealth management solutions. Parul brings 18 years of strong experience in the financial services industry, her knowledge edges across the delivery lifecycle and wealth domain areas including AML, KYC, client onboarding and Payments. She is experienced in managing complex , high value enterprise level programs with leading Banks like SCB , BNPP, OCBC and Technology Service providers like Cognizant, BAE Systems , Fenergo. She has worked vastly for APAC and EMEA region deliveries primarily based out of Singapore.

    Parul Holds a Master’s in Business Administration in Finance and Accounting and is Certified PMI- Project Management Professional, Scaled Agilist, Scrum Master(CSM) and Product owner (CSPO). Beyond work she is interested in Art and Travel.

    Conor Doyle

    Head of Pre-Sales

    Conor has over 20 years of experience of leading sales and service teams in high-growth financial software vendor organisations. His previous work experience focuses on leading multinational, cross-functional teams in the provision of leading-edge, highly complex and high-value fintech business solutions.

    Conor is an expert presenter, negotiator, and business operations manager; able to forge solid relationships with both clients and partners and build consensus across multiple organisational levels. He has demonstrated capacity for leadership and project management, with proven track record of meeting targets, overcoming challenges in real time, and delivering tangible results.

    Conor is bilingual (English and Japanese) with strong technical and integration experience and a Mechanical Engineering degree.

    Robert Rice

    Chief Sales Officer

    Robert Rice leads Quantifeed’s sales strategy and works with clients to define and deliver digital wealth management solutions. Based in Hong Kong for over 15 years, Robert has held sales leadership roles in APAC and EMEA at London Stock Exchange Group (formerly Refinitiv), Fitch Solutions, OFX and SNL Financial, leading teams servicing wealth managers, asset managers and financial institutions.

    His career is focused on brining innovative platforms, products and solutions to market helping clients meet their objectives. Robert is an appointed Mentor for the Hong Kong Fintech Week advising start-ups and market entrants on various topics and go to market initiatives.

    Audrey Wong

    Chief Operating Officer &
    Chief Financial Officer

    Audrey Wong manages operations and financial affairs to deliver on Quantifeed’s business strategy. Audrey joined Quantifeed from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she was COO for the equities division in Asia Pacific. Audrey’s tenure at Merrill Lynch included senior assignments in Toronto and New York, before relocating to Hong Kong in 2006 to take a new role as the Finance Head of Equities Derivatives for APR.

    Her responsibilities expanded to CFO of APAC Equities in 2011 and CFO for APAC Global Markets in 2013. Audrey holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Brock University of Ontario. She is also a Chartered Professional Accountant of Ontario and Chartered Financial Analyst. Audrey enjoys biking and swimming with her two children.

    John Robson

    Chief Commercial Officer

    John Robson drives Quantifeed’s client partnerships. He works with financial institutions to assist them in developing their digital wealth management future. Based in Hong Kong for over 30 years, he has held regional leadership roles at JP Morgan, Nomura and Merrill Lynch managing teams which serviced the region’s consumer and private banks.

    His career has been focused on the development of investment platforms and products. He has been instrumental in introducing significant product innovation to wealth management platforms in Hong Kong, London and Tokyo.

    Alex Ypsilanti

    Chief Executive Officer &
    Co-Founder

    Alex Ypsilanti spearheads Quantifeed’s mission to solve the challenges of digital wealth management.

    Before co-founding Quantifeed, he spent fifteen years as an investment banking research analyst. His work enabled investors to improve their risk-adjusted returns and to gain access to a wider range of market strategies and risk premia. Alex, a top ranked analyst by Institutional Investor, had a leading role in the growth of the European ETF market, hedge fund replication and the use of volatility products in portfolios.

    A former managing director for Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Alex has built and led teams of derivatives and quantitative strategists in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

    Alex holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Information Systems Engineering and a PhD in Mathematical Finance from Imperial College, University of London.