Many years ago, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Edmond Walters (founder of eMoney).  We were discussing a very complex business challenge that I was trying to solve. Without hesitation, Edmond offered to help:

“Entrepreneurs need to help one another,” was Edmond’s rationale.

With that, a complex problem that I had was immediately resolved, and the business took off.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship, and paying it forward, much as Edmond had done with me, I would like to begin sharing with the global advisor community the “robo-hack” that we have seen work.

When I say work, I mean closed accounts.

Joining me in this collaboration will be Bert-Jan Van Essen, CEO of Dragon Wealth.

In addition to being a phenomenal athlete (I pretend to ski/snowboard…he can compete), Bert was the CTO of Credit Suisse for APAC. Bert is now the CEO of Dragon Wealth, one of South East Asia’s leading FinTech companies. In other words, a significant grey haired FinTech war horse who has seen it all and who has a Dutch accent to boot.

Together, Bert and I have been collaborating on a number of robo-advisor FinTech initiatives worldwide.

The projects range from small advisory firms, family offices, insurance companies, and very large banks.  

The characteristics range from plain vanilla robo-advisor implementations to, literally, Uber-Advisor direct fee paradigms (get ready USA, fees tied to assets are GONE.  You can thank the Aussies for that one).

The technical applications are really quite cool.

Why?

Because SEAsian infrastructure makes the USA look like Stonehenge.

Mobile is ubiquitous in SEAsia, especially Singapore…it works EVERYWHERE.  Literally, Skype video calls on speeding underground trains.  

We will be discussing the use of the blockchain for KYC processes (a-la Bitcoin). Digital wallets. Inbound marketing. Machine learning and artificial intelligence in client service (TRUE robo-advisors!), and much much more.

Our blogs will be based on real implementations. Actual robo-advisor transitions and installs...old books of business transitioning to a new P&L that massively scales.

We will not pull punches.  We'll have tough discussions with regards to things like actual client acquisition costs, do the hybrid robo-advisor platforms actually convert customers, active versus passive product offerings, and smart Beta.

We’ll ask questions such as: Why can’t the robo-advisor be FREE? Why should anyone pay for wealth management OR trading?

We will encourage our followers to share and interact with one another. There is no need to compete as the pie is HUGE.

What makes our message different from anyone else worldwide with regards to  robo-advisors?

The variables for success for us are much more complex.

KYC/AML constraints, different regulatory regimes, vastly different investor behavior, currency risk, and two MASSIVE 800-lb gorillas: China and India.

As I have had more and more robo-advisor discussions, I realized that we owed it to our colleagues and peers to show them exactly how we did it.

In other words, we want to provide you a “robo-hack”

We will be blunt. We will be honest. More importantly, we won’t be selling anything.

 Why?

At the end of the day, you can buy the “calculator” (costs you money). You can read the instructions to implement the "calculator" (takes time) You can hire resources to staff the “calculator” (more money and time).

Our value add? 

We’ll save you a lot of time and money. If it helps, we can provide you the resources to get to market a LOT faster.

Again, why would we do this?

Good question.  

If a robo-advisor works, it really is an arbitrage isn’t it?

"I can acquire clients cheaper than you and close the business faster," say the robo-arbitrageurs!

Right now, there are only four robo-advisors in the USA (not the VC backed ones) who are profitable and have figured this out (email me at ftroise@sohocap.com and I can share with you who they are).

Why don’t you hear about them? They don’t want you to know the arbitrage. They don’t want to see you with a competitive marketing campaign.

These “phono-advisors” are winning the battle as everyone else burns through cash.

But, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, and being a true FinTech partner, we think it’s time to level the playing field.

So keep posted on this blog. Subscribe to follow us. And, in the interim, drop Edmond a line (click here) and tell him I said hello!

Finally, what's a free elephant?  In the dot-com bubble, many companies gave away their technology for free.  Problem was, nobody wanted it to begin with.  So, like an "elephant," while free, no one wanted it.  Hence the phrase: "free elephants."


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