Wealthfront to launch automated financial planning tool for free

U.S. users can link various non-Wealthfront accounts, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts and information on the value of their homes, to the platform.

Wealthfront, one of the largest digital wealth management startups, is set to offer its automated financial planning tool, known as “robo-advisers,” for free by the end of 2018, as part of its strategic decision to increase its customer base.

Those located in the United States who do not have money managed by Wealthfront will be able to connect their various financial accounts to the company’s Path tool, which will calculate their saving and spending rates and help them create a plan for retirement.

In early 2017, Wealthfront had launched Path for clients as part of a strategic shift to create new services that included access to human advisers. Its competitors launched similar automated financial planning tools but offered them only to clients with larger accounts.

With around $11 billion in assets under management, Wealthfront disclosed following the launch of the tool, its customer base has seen a rise. It now hopes that offering the tool for free will fuel further growth as users decide to have Wealthfront manage their money for a fee, said Dan Carroll, co-founder and chief strategy officer.

“We don’t believe that financial advice should be for the ultra wealthy and it shouldn’t be behind the pay wall,” said Carroll. “We were gratified when we looked at the data, that clients that engage with the engine do save more.”

Further, users can also link various non-Wealthfront accounts, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts and information on the value of their homes, to the platform. They can also play around with the numbers and charts on the mobile app and get real time projections on how much money they will need to save to retire at a certain age.

Robo-advisers automatically create and manage portfolios made up of exchange-traded-funds for customers with as little as a few hundred dollars to invest. This model has driven established players to launch similar services, but some large and smaller firms believe that combining human advice and digital tools could be more successful.

Incidentally, independent robo-advisers have also been facing concerns about their ability to grow enough to become profitable. This has prompted them to diversify their offerings with new kinds of tools.

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