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US robo pivots to adviser-facing model

New York-based automated investment tool Betterment has re-branded its B2B business in a bid to assure financial advisers that the robo market is complementary to the advice profession.

The Betterment Institutional brand has been changed to “Betterment for Advisors” to more explicitly target registered investment advisors (RIAs) as a new revenue stream.

“Today we are excited to announce that Betterment Institutional is now called Betterment for Advisors (B4A). This change is not just about a new name, but also involves key developments to the B4A platform that will be available in October 2016,” said Tom Kimberly, general manager at Betterment for Advisors.

“We don’t believe robo-advice is about humans versus technology – where one will win and one will lose. We believe it’s about how humans employ technology to make their lives better, easier, and more efficient.”

The platform allows advisers in the US to white-label the Betterment robo-advice offering for a 25-basis point fee and provides investment options to end-clients via partnership deals announced with Vanguard and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

The firm was founded in 2008 and has now acquired US$5 billion in assets under management, with a mixture of advised and non-advised investor accounts.

In 2014, Betterment was included in CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list, being seen to likely become a significantly disruptive force in the US financial advice industry. It subsequently launched its B2B institutional offer in that same year.