Robo-adviser sector to take off in China

By Cai Xiao | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-06 07:31

Robo-adviser sector to take off in China

A robot interacts with a customer at a Bank of Communications branch in Handan, Hebei province. [Photo/China Daily]

China will become the world's largest robo-adviser market thanks to its growing middle class and the popularity of the mobile internet, according to a report released by CreditEase Corp and Bloomberg LP.

A robo-adviser is an online wealth management service that provides automated, algorithm-based portfolio advice without the use of human financial planners.

"With fast-paced urbanization and universal higher education, China's new middle class is growing quickly, which is a key factor for China to become the largest robo-adviser market in the near future," said Wang Fuxing, managing director at CreditEase Wealth Management Co Ltd and the main author of the report.

China will have 300 million to 500 million middle-class people in the next five to 10 years, said the report.

According to the report, Chinese new middle class are those who are familiar with the internet and good at improving their capabilities through different high-tech products. They are rational and fond of personalized and high-quality lifestyle and wealth management methods.

Wang said the popularization of the mobile internet will also become an important factor because robo-adviser products will benefit from a solid internet infrastructure.

The report said the number of China's mobile internet users totaled 790 million in 2015, increasing 8.4 percent year-on-year. It is estimated that the number will be 890 million in 2018.

The report was made after surveying on 5,762 new middle-class respondents, aged between 30 and 45 with investable funds between 500,000 yuan ($72,600) and 2 million yuan each in six cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

About 76 percent of the respondents said they hoped to receive investment recommendations from robo-adviser products and other digital means. Around 62 percent of them said they would seek personalized wealth management products.

Global asset allocation, good user experience, transparent and safe assets and a professional finance and technology team are of great importance for a robo-adviser platform, said Hu Jinhui, chief technology officer of ToumiRA, a robo-adviser product of CreditEase.

In the United States, the rapid development of quantitative investing and big data technology have spurred the development of robo-adviser products.

Leading US robo-adviser companies including Wealthfront Inc and Betterment Holdings Inc, and traditional financial institutions such as Blackrock Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Charles Schwab Corp are also entering the market through mergers and acquisitions or by setting up their own robo-adviser platforms.

Separately, Citigroup Inc released a report that assets under management by robo-advisers increased to $18.7 billion at the end of 2015, while in 2012 the amount under management was close to zero.


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