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European robo-adviser eyes Australia, taps Westpac exec

The former head of Westpac's private banking business has brought a Belgium-based robo-adviser down under, and says industry super funds, major banks, broker businesses and dealer groups are already knocking at the door.

With its Asia Pacific operations led by Tim Smith and former KPMG partner Adrian Fisk, wealthtech provider InvestSuite launched into the Australian market on July 1.

"As a wealth tech firm in its first two years we have focused our suite of solutions solely on the B2B space, targeting established wealth managers, platforms and industry funds," Smith told Financial Standard.

"Our goal here is quite simple; provide the latest open architecture available in the world to accelerate these businesses transformational journey and customer connectivity and experience."

InvestSuite will launch four white-label products into the Australian market, including its Portfolio Optimizer (quantitative downside protection for investors), Self Investor (an online investment platform), StoryTeller (an automated reporting solution) and Robo Advisor offerings.

With major structural shifts underway in the Australian wealth management industry, Smith believes the industry is ripe for (digital) disruption.

"Clearly automated advice in Australia has been a challenging space since the early 2010s; I don't think anyone has nailed it and definitely no one has nailed it from a larger institution perspective," he said.

"I think as we see the major banks move away from wealth - and we are seeing that accelerating now -  the ability to capture clients in those businesses and provide them with a lower cost solution is something that everyone is focused on."

Software that enables better connectivity and client experience, as well as helping more Australians access financial advice, will continue to gain momentum as advisers depart the industry, Smith said.

"These products make it easier for traditional providers of wealth management solutions to move into the 21st Century," he said.

"And that's really the DNA of the business."

Its StoryTeller module in particular, which inspired by Disney and Pixar, automates the reporting and analysis of portfolios in a visual and understandable way for consumers, has got people talking, Smith said.

"People from large industry super funds, through to the major banks, broking businesses and dealer groups; it's really the whole wealth market that could benefit from our suite of products," he said.

Industry super funds were particularly well placed to take advantage of automated advice technologies, he said.

"Keeping people interested in the funds that they're accumulating is really important and the ability for us to come in and assist some of the industry funds with our StoryTeller product is one of the biggest opportunities for us, because that engagement, that customer experience, is what's missing," Smith said.

"Having run large teams for a long time in this market, and especially with the Royal Commission, the disconnect between Australians and anything to do with advice and financial services means that we need to have a different way of looking at the market; we need to respond using all the latest technologies."

While the wealthtech plans to keep a low profile in Australia in 2020, it will focus on utilising Smith and Fisk's connections to leverage opportunities within the domestic market.

Based in Sydney, InvestSuite will build out its team and look to expand into the Asia Pacific market during 2021.

Read more: InvestSuiteWestpacAdrian FiskFinancial StandardKPMGRobo AdviceRoyal CommissionTim Smith
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