Alternative Finance Landscape: Roboadvising

Monday, December 6, 2021, by Dr. Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka, PhD

At various stages in their personal lives, many entrepreneurs choose to seek the advice of a finance professional to assess risks and recommend financial solutions that could help in the financial decision-making process. Historically, professional advisers or financial planners could be found among lawyers, tax and insurance agents, credit providers, stockbrokers and other financial service providers. As such, it is necessary always to check if all the licenses and registrations are in place before you pay for the services and rely on the advice provided by a chosen financial adviser. A complete financial advice from a selected financial planner typically encompasses information and advice that makes it easier for you to manage investment options, tax implications, insurance policies, education needs, retirement plans and various loans and provides an interconnected financial plan.


As the widespread adoption of digital banking continues to increase it is evident that customers will continue to expect more personalised banking services. The myriad banking options shared with customers through their banking applications are making it more challenging to make well-informed financial decisions. Access to professional financial advice has always been associated with a fee payment which gave you access to personalised advice on a diverse range of financial matters. Clearly, for a significant number of people, the fees were considered to be quite high and as a result, not many people could access professional financial advice services. 


In today’s digitalised world roboadvising has gained popularity due to lower costs, at scale personalisation, greater accessibility, efficiency and overall, financially inclusive approach. In general lower fees charged by roboadvisors made their service more accessible in comparison to their traditional financial advisors. The process is relatively straightforward, which involves completing an online questionnaire that contains a large set of questions connected with your financial plans, age, risk tolerance level, investment horizons, the amount you are planning to invest, among other granular questions. Upon successful completion of the questionnaire, a roboadvisor will ask you to link your bank account with the roboadvisor’s platform for a more seamless investment experience.


There are many online platforms that rely on mathematical computer algorithms to provide recommendations and financial advice to customers with varied financial profiles. Even in the presence of so many benefits, it is essential to be aware of the limitations associated with roboadvising. For many clients, having no face-to-face meetings or conversations could be considered a major hurdle. Roboadvising is still a new landscape, so it is necessary to compare fees and services offered by various roboadvisors.  For instance, check how accessible is the customer support team (e.g., chatbots, emails, phone contact with human advisors), level of management and investment fees charged, types of investment options in order to gauge the level of portfolio diversification, educational material they have on offer, minimum investment amounts, level of customers’ ratings, opportunities to minimise tax exposures, trading costs associated with buying and selling various investments and potential conflicts of interest when it comes to the types of investment products recommended by roboadvisors. Remember, every single outcome in your financial success story is defined by the financial decisions you make.


Dr Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka is Global Certificates Manager at ICSB, a Higher Degree by Research Supervisor at Excelsia College and Adjunct Academic at the University of Technology  Sydney, Australia. Dr Yesseleva-Pionka held teaching and senior academic management positions in Central Asia (Kazakhstan) and Australia. She specialised in general investments, personal and corporate superannuation investments while working for Westpac Banking Corporation and BT Financial Group in Australia. She was invited to join The Housing Connection, a not-for-profit organisation in Sydney, Australia as Treasurer and Board Member from November 2019. Her research interests include entrepreneurial finance, traditional and alternative ways to finance small and medium enterprises (SMEs), corporate finance, policies for the small business sector, innovation and SMEs, FinTechs and Blockchain. Dr Yesseleva-Pionka is the Associate Editor for the Journal of the International Council for Small Business (JICSB). 

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