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Robo Advice In The USA – Revolution or Evolution?

Robo Advice In The USA – Revolution or Evolution?

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Including: Robo advice, automated financial planning, financial advice, brokerage, fund platforms
Covering: USA.

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The USA is the world’s largest market for robo advice, standing far ahead of the other marekts. Robo-advice is financial advice or portfolio management online with minimal human intervention. The Robo Advice in The USA: Revolution or Evolution? report provides strategists, marketers and senior managers with the critical information they need to assess the rapidly developing for automated investment and financial advice. Robo advice is one of the most important trends in the market, and this report gives a comprehensive assessment of the based on discussions with all the leading players globally.

Reasons to Purchase The Report

• Develop strategies based on what robo advice is and what it means in today’s market.
• Choose your approach to the market based on the industry’s emerging business models.
• Plan innovative strategies based on the ‘What Will The Winners Look Like’ section.
• Facilitate decision making on the basis of forecast market data.
• Benchmark performance against key competitors by understanding their market positioning, offerings, portfolios and workflows.
• Identify investment opportunities.
• Target your key markets with detailed market, competitive, regulatory and trend information for the USA.
• The report supports your internal and external presentations with reliable high quality data, analysis and 50 attractive and informative graphics.


The USA Automated Financial Advice report covers all the vital information and analysis required to help you enter into or expand in the robo advice market. It is broken into the following sections:
The Executive Summary gives the key take-aways from the report
The ‘What is Robo Advice’ section looks at what defines a robo advice offering, the difference between automated financial advice and automated investment management, and why robo advice is gaining so much media and investment interest.
The ‘Emerging Business Models’ section looks at different approaches being taken by players, the challenges and opportunities they face and suggests some of the short, medium and long term scenario for this growing market.
The ‘What Will the Winners Look Like?’ chapter gives advice on the key success factors in the market, including segmentation, differentiation, customer centricity, gamification and stimulus, virtualisation, and big data.
The ‘Size and Growth of the Global Market’ section looks at the size of the market, its explosive potential and the drivers behind this.
The USA market chapters look at how at the leading robo advice markets, how they developed, and the unique competitive and regulatory landscape in each geography.
The Appendix includes profiles of a large number of robo advice companies, including an overview of each company and its offering, its market positioning, developments and the customer journey it offers.


Additional information
Markets Covered:

robo advice, automated financial planning, financial advice, brokerage, fund platforms

Companies profiled:

Betterment, Financial Guard, FutureAdvisor (a BlackRock Company), Intelligent Portfolios from Charles Schwab, Inc, LearnVest Inc, Personal Capital, SigFig Wealth Management LLC, Vanguard PAS, Wealthfront, Inc, WiseBanyan, Inc



Time series:

Current and five years forecast assets under management.


thirty plus high-quality conceptual and data driven illustrations.


Definitions and segmentations, business models, success factor analysis, market drivers, market background, competitive and regulatory characteristics. Company positioning, developments and workflow analysis.


The report is based on 25+ interviews with many of the leading players in the global robo advice market. It draws on exhaustive secondary research.


The report’s authors draw on over 60 years of collective senior research experience in the financial and technology sectors.

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Table of Contents
Robo Advice: Revolution or Evolution? 2
Table of Contents 6
List of Figures 10
1. Executive Summary 13
1.1 Robo advice is not a new concept, but is gaining a lot of global attention 13
1.2 There are far fewer pure robos than the media would have us believe 13
1.3 Focus is on automated investment management; there are very few automated advice propositions 14
1.4 Early movers built from scratch, but start-ups are now seeking to build partnerships with established players 16
1.5 Low cost automated investments will become the core building block of financial planning 17
1.6 Many of the ‘me too’ automated investment propositions will fall by the wayside unless they continue to develop 17
1.7 The market for automated investment management services will grow significantly, but hybrids will be the dominant model 18
1.8 The addressable market for virtual advice is huge, but very few propositions have come forward to meet this demand 19
2. What is robo advice? 19
2.1 Robo advice: a catch all term for remotely delivered wealth management 19
2.2 Defining ‘robo advice’ 21
2.3 Automated investment management solutions are the dominant model; but how automated are they? 23
2.4 There are only a handful of automated financial planning propositions in the market today 26
2.5 Why is ‘robo advice’ under the spotlight? 29
2.6 Propositions are only as good as the algorithms 33
3. Emerging Business Models 37
3.1 Pure play start-ups have led the charge to date 37
3.2 The cost of acquisition is the elephant in the room for start-ups 38
3.3 Re-focus on the B2B market to drive profitability 39
3.4 Industry stalwarts are now seeing the potential of automation; and have important strategic advantages over the start-ups 41
3.5 Which play will the current incumbents make – build, partner, or buy? 44
3.6 In the B2B space, robo for advisers is nothing new, but some are now embracing the opportunity to expand the reach of their business 47
3.7 Robo advice will place widespread pressure on margins and fees 50
3.8 The impact on the advice market will take longer to play out, and will result in advisers ultimately moving up the advice value chain 52
4. What will the winners look like? 53
4.1 Many of the ‘me too’ automated investment propositions will fall by the wayside unless they continue to develop 53
4.2 Automated investment propositions will need get much better at targeting clearly defined, profitable consumer segments 55
4.3 Differentiation needs to be on a feature that the mass market consumer can understand 56
4.4 A truly customer-centric approach will be required to shift customers from a transactional to an ongoing relationship 58
4.5 Winning propositions will make better use of behavioural economics to enhance the user experience and increase conversion and retention rates 60
4.6 Winning propositions will need to engage consumers in new ways, using visual stimulus to create emotional responses 61
4.7 Gamification can ‘reward’ consumers for building knowledge; virtual reality can allow them to test drive future outcomes in a safe environment 63
4.8 Winning solutions will blend the human touch with automation 65
4.9 Next generation ‘cyborgs’ will shift the boundary between human and robot within five years – think ‘virtual advice’ 69
4.10 New revenue models to reflect what consumers are actually paying for? 71
4.11 Big data, data giants and analytics: The final frontier 72
4.12 Robo 3.0 has the potential to do so much more than personal finance 75
5 Size and Growth of the Global market 77
5.1 Robo advice growth is about to take off 77
5.2 Drivers for global growth 78
5.2.1. Internet penetration now makes online propositions feasible worldwide 78
5.2.2. North America is the wealthiest region, but AsiaPac is growing fast 79
5.2.3. Estimates of global assets under management top $70 billion in 2014 80
5.2.4. Large and growing DC pension markets places more responsibility on consumers 81
5.2.5. VC firm are buying into the robo story – for now 81
5.3 Robo advisors are everywhere, but the US still dominates the global landscape 81
5.4 The US still presents the best market opportunity and will continue to drive global growth 82
5.5 Global forecasts for robo advice 84
5.5.1. We believe automated investment will have captured global AUM of $1.4 trillion by 2020, with the hybrid model taking the lion’s share 85
5.5.2. Global estimates for automated financial advice are less tangible, but the market could be significant 86
6 Country Profile: USA 87
6.1 Introduction 87
6.2 Market Background and Development History 87
6.3 Market Size and Growth 92
6.3.1. Size of the addressable market by AUM 93
6.3.2. Size of the addressable market by client numbers 94
6.4 Competitive Landscape 97
6.5 Regulatory Environment 103
6.6 Future Prospects 105
7 Appendix: US Company Profiles 108
Betterment 109
Financial Guard 123
FutureAdvisor (a BlackRock Company) 133
Intelligent Portfolios from Charles Schwab, Inc. 145
LearnVest Inc. 157
Personal Capital 166
SigFig Wealth Management LLC 176
Vanguard PAS 187
Wealthfront, Inc. 194
WiseBanyan, Inc. 211
Appendix 220
Research Methodology 220
About the Publishers 220
Currencies 221
Research Inquiries 221
The Business Research Company 221
Executive Summary
The robo advisor model originated in the US and it remains the largest robo advice market, with more than 200 robo advisors currently managing over $60bn in AUM in 2016. It is therefore natural to look at how the US has developed to see if any lessons can be learned for other countries. The US market for personalised financial advice is served by investment advisory firms (“RIAs”), financial planners (“CFPs”), and brokerage agents. Compared to other markets, minimum asset levels required for accessing personal financial advice are high, with most RIAs reluctant to service clients with less than $250,000 of assets, and brokerages paying little personalised attention to clients with less than $500,000 of assets. Since the founding of Wealthfront and Betterment in 2008, the number of robo advisors in the US market has consistently climbed, and today there are over 20 robo advisors managing a minimum of $10m of assets each. This represents the tip of the iceberg, with some suggesting there are more than 200 loosely defined robos.
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