Infocus to launch robo-advice solution

Non-institutionally-aligned firm Infocus Wealth Management has announced it will launch a new direct-to-consumer robo-advice solution, which will give clients the option to manage their own investments online.

The new solution, to be launched in May, will incorporate the Morningstar Wealth Forecasting Engine as well as investment management services from Morningstar's Ibbotson Associates Australia.

Speaking to ifa, Infocus managing director Rod Bristow said the robo-advice service will not compete with the firm's existing advisers.

"We've been talking to our advisers for some months about this. What we've been saying is robo-advice is something that will come into the Australian market and will make a difference in terms of helping consumers understand a little bit more about advice and what it is and how it works," he said.

"When we looked at robo-advice in the US, we've noticed that the most successful providers are the ones who have the robo-advice solution but also have the advice business if people need advice."

The Wealth Forecasting Engine is designed to help users better understand "estimated savings and retirement expenses, including the probability of achieving their goals in different market conditions", according to a statement by Infocus.

Assets invested through Infocus' direct-to-consumer advice solution will be invested in separately-managed accounts offered by Ibbotson Associates Australia.

"The way it works is that based on user inputs, the Wealth Forecasting Engine projects a client's future wealth and provides savings rate, retirement age, and asset allocation recommendations for all life stages," Mr Bristow said.

"Clients can then choose to manage their own investments, or seek advice from one of our nearly 200 highly-qualified and experienced financial advisers around the country.

"This not only gives clients flexibility about how they want to engage with financial advice, it also means Infocus advisers will benefit from direct consumers who may also need more personalised financial advice at some point in the future."

Mr Bristow added that the new solution is a part of the firm's innovative approach.

"In addition to outcomes from consumer-driven inputs that can be provided anywhere, anytime, Infocus' direct advice solution will be part of our overall offer supporting consumers seeking financial advice," he said.

"Our direct advice solution will reduce barriers to taking action, delivering the freedom of a better financial life with just a few clicks."

Infocus' announcement came as Macquarie launched its robo-advice tool, OwnersAdvisory, last month. NAB also rolled out a direct-to-consumer digital advice platform, NAB Prosper, in October 2015. 

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