Wealthfront Now Offers Securities-Based Lending
As its first move into lending, robo-advice provider Wealthfront has revealed it will let clients borrow money against their investments, Reuters reports.
Along with robo rival Betterment, the robo-advisor has increased competition in the wealth management space against the likes of wirehouses Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, brokerages like Charles Schwab and even fund houses with direct-to-consumer offerings like Vanguard.
Investors with at least $100,000 with Wealthfront can now borrow up to 30% of their balance for loans for anything except purchasing more investments on the firm’s platform, the company announced Wednesday.
Big brokers already make good use of securities lending because it is a reasonably low-risk method for improving margins.
Reuters reports loans will cost between 3.25% and 4.5%, and any money a client deposits into their account after taking out a loan will pay off the balance rather than investments.
The loan application and approval process is all online, much like the firm’s all-digital investment offering.
Until now, robo-advisors haven’t waded too far into financial services beyond investments, Reuters writes. However, Wealthfront has also already begun offering college savings tools.
Around 115,000 clients — most under the age of 49 — invest about $6 billion with Wealthfront, Reuters reports.