As a small example of financial institutions using technology to deal with problems caused by regulation, Barclays Bank is about to launch its 'Plan & Invest' robo-advice service to bridge the so-called 'advice gap' left by the Retail Distribution Review, which took hold in the UK in 2012.
It is aimed primarily at the poor but might suit some elderly or otherwise vulnerable HNWs who lack the confidence to invest on their own as an additional asset management tool.
The bank asks the customer about his investment goals, his finances, his appetite for risk and his annual ISA allowance. At least once a year it plans to ask him about these things again. If his circumstances change, he can also answer questions online at any time. The bank draws up a personal investment plan for him and manages his investments. It wants him to invest for a minimum of five years but will allow him to withdraw the value of his investment at any time. The service will appear on the Barclays app later this summer. All-in annual costs range between 1.39% and 1.59% according to the value of the client's investments. There is a minimum investment of £5,000. Costs are as follows.
Account value Service costs per month
£5,000...............£4.75 per month
£20,000.............£19 per month
£100,000...........£95 per month
The bank's website states: "The launch coincides with new research revealing that over half of Brits (56%) feel that they don’t currently have access to the expert support they would need to start investing, with 71% believing that they don’t have the skills or expertise to invest on their own. Barclays has partnered with Scalable Capital to launch the new service, which will give customers access to the bank’s pick of both active and passive funds through a managed portfolio. Their investments will be chosen and managed by the bank’s dedicated team of investment experts, previously only accessible to clients with considerable sums to invest. Unlike many robo-advice providers, Barclays will adapt the investment plan to any changes in the market. Our customers...said they wanted an investment service that gave them the convenience and affordability of robo-advice, but with more of the personalisation of wealth management."