This story previously ran in Financial Advisor IQ's sister publication, Ignites.
American Century Investments has partnered with a robo-advisory technology firm to launch a digital advice platform, the firm announced Wednesday.
The “hybrid financial advisor platform,” built in conjunction with Marstone, will debut in the fourth quarter, said Wayne Park, American Century’s head of personal investments.
“It doesn’t look like your standard robo-advisor,” he added.
The platform will be an end-to-end interface for individual accounts, white-labeled by Marstone, he said. Users will also have access to advice from human advisors.
Through the platform, users will be able to access advice about which investment options they should select, including American Century’s mutual funds and ETFs, Park said.
American Century had $129 billion in mutual fund assets and $1.8 billion in ETF assets as of May 31, according to Morningstar Direct data.
Mutual funds shed $6.7 billion during the year ended May, Morningstar’s database shows, and its ETFs gained $306 million.
Initially, the platform will only be available to existing American Century clients, Park said.
It will be a cheaper, digital version of American Century’s Private Client Group Services, he said. That service is branded as the firm’s “premium advice service,” as well as holistic financial planning, the company’s website shows. That service requires a $50,000 account minimum and charges 90 basis points in fees. Clients with $50,000 and $250,000 in assets are covered by a team of financial consultants, and those with $250,000 or more have dedicated financial consultants, the website notes.
Park declined to comment on the forthcoming platform’s account minimums or fees.
The offering will eventually expand to other individual investors, who aren’t already American Century clients, Park said.
The digital offering will “allo[w] access to more of the population that prefers to do it themselves and stay in a digital channel,” he said. “Day one, this is for our existing clients and what they want.”
Eventually, clients will be able to use the platform to open accounts and answer questions about their risk tolerance and access American Century’s mutual funds, Park said. The firm also plans to add an educational series to the platform.
Investors will be able to select what goals they’re saving for, he noted. The options have not yet been finalized, he added.
Seamlessly integrating a client’s American Century investments or even loans would help the firm determine their need, “based on client, not accounts,” Park said.
“We’re thinking of it as a capability,” he said. “It’s being intentional with what clients want, number one, and number two, [a way] to get to market in an accelerated manner.”
The platform will be built by Marstone integrating Plaid software, Park said. Day-to-day account management and custodial tools can be built out later as the platform expands.
Many fund firms tap outside providers to help develop their digital-advice platforms in order to save time and money, said Scott Smith, director of advice relationships at Cerulli.
“Recreating the wheel is a low-return expenditure,” he said.
Many major fund companies already have robo-advisors. American Century could be building out this platform in order to retain existing clients who may be looking for a digital-advice option, said Tyler Cloherty, a managing director at Casey Quirk.
“It’s way easier to keep a client you have than getting a new one,” he said.