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Wealthfront Now Offers Securities-Based Lending

April 20, 2017

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.

By FA-IQ Staff
  • To read the Reuters article cited in this story, click here.