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IoT User Interface Authors: Elizabeth White, Gary Kaiser, Pat Romanski, Jnan Dash, Liz McMillan

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New Online Financial Advisor Startups Redefining the Traditional Relationship-Driven Advice Industry

Corporate Insight today released a new study – Transcending the Human Touch: Onboarding and Product Strategy for Automated Investment Advice – that offers a first-hand review of the account opening experience at several leading online advice startups and analyzes the key tactical and strategic questions that “robo-advisors” must answer if they hope to succeed in the increasingly competitive financial advice business.

Transcending the Human Touch offers Corporate Insight’s analysis of the challenges that companies face when delivering advice online without a human intermediary and provides recommendations for addressing these issues. This analysis is based on Corporate Insight’s hands-on experience using these new automated advice services, as well as nearly three years of research on the investing startup space, including interviews with dozens of industry leaders and entrepreneurs. Subjects covered include:

      Active versus passive investment products
Designing the optimal investor questionnaire
Effective electronic client communication
Establishing trust without human interaction
Pricing strategy

This comprehensive report also includes a detailed review of the account opening experience at a dozen innovative startups, including screen captures of the account opening experience and insights into the advantages and disadvantages of each firm’s approach. The companies included in the account opening section of the study are:









Motif Investing




Financial Guard






“Onboarding new clients is one of the major challenges facing online investment advice providers, since they don’t have a human financial advisor to guide prospects through the enrollment process,” says Grant Easterbrook, Analyst at Corporate Insight. “Our study highlights the best practices employed by the firms, to ensure investors of all backgrounds and knowledge levels can serve themselves online without human intervention.”

Corporate Insight’s research shows that the business case for providing online investment advice to mass market investors continues to strengthen. In July 2014, the firm collected management numbers for 11 leading startups and found that they had $15.7 billion under management/advice. This represents a 36.5% growth rate since April 2014, when these startups reported $11.5 billion under management/advice.

Leading retail brokerage firms are beginning to take action in response to the challenge posed by these innovators. Charles Schwab, Scottrade and TradeKing are all in the process of rolling out new, lower-cost investment advice solutions and Vanguard is reportedly planning on lowering the minimum investment required to work with its financial advisors.

“The growth of the newcomers and the response of several industry leaders show that there is a significant market for low-cost, low-minimum investment advice solutions” says Michael Ellison, President of Corporate Insight. “Firms in the retail investment industry must have a strategy for contending with these lower-cost providers. Our study will give industry executives a clearer understanding of the competitive landscape in this space, as well as insights into the strengths and weaknesses of key emerging players.”

To download an in-depth preview of the study, click here:

About Corporate Insight

Corporate Insight provides competitive intelligence, consulting and user experience research to the nation’s leading financial institutions. For over two decades, the firm has tracked technological developments in the financial services industry, identifying best practices in online banking and investing, online insurance, mobile finance, active trading platforms, social media and other emerging areas. The firm helps its clients to remain at the forefront of industry trends and improve their competitive position.

Further information on Corporate Insight is available at

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