Bhaskar Prabhakara is the Founder of WeInvest – Asia’s first B2B2C Robo-advisory platform. He shares his passion to revolutionalise wealth management by providing an end-to-end service to Banks, Investment Advisors & Wealth Managers, at a fraction of their cost of business.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
An executive with a proven track record, I have over the last 12 years consulted with various banks, brokerages and asset management firms across India, Middle East, US and London. Prior to founding WeInvest, I spent over seven years at Headstrong Capital Markets, where I was responsible for growing the Europe business and heading up the Asian business.
I started my career at India’s largest private bank, ICICI bank before consulting with Charles Schwab, Thomson Reuters & clients like Goldman Sachs, CMC Markets, Macquarie Securities, Bursa Malaysia etc.
I hold an Engineering degree from IIT Madras and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad.
What is your business venture about?
WeInvest is Asia’s first digital-wealth-as-a-service provider, to Banks, Investment Advisors & Wealth manager. We provide an end-to-end business service that encompasses Technology, Operations Support, Investment strategies & Execution & Custody facilities.
So how does our service impact the end clients of these banks & wealth managers?
Let’s take a client of one of our client Banks. An end user can aggregate all their bank, brokerage & wealth accounts, and track his/her consolidated portfolio using our App. They clearly have goals and they can plan & invest towards those goals in a core-portfolio using our Robo-Advisory platform. And if they are looking comfortable on their goals, the user could invest towards their satellite portfolio, through theme-based investing which he/she can relate with.
For Affluent or High-ne-worth clients, we have a Tech-enabled Smarter RM advisory application to service their needs & to cover the journey from portfolio analysis to Goal-based or thematic investing.
In order to enable this end-to-end proposition, we provide a COMPREHENSIVE set of Capabilities ranging from Robo-Advisory, Relationship Manager enabled Advisory, Thematic Investing, Portfolio Analytics, Account Aggregation and an Extensive Back Office, including Operations Support. We are expanding across several geographies in Asia and have developed this comprehensive offering with partners like Pershing (BNYMellon), Saxo, Amazon & InvestCloud.
We provide our end-to-end service to Banks, Investment Advisors & Wealth Managers, at a fraction of their cost of business.
What is your mission at the outset?
We founded WeInvest & TrackWealth with the vision to help everyone take control of their finances, make better investment decisions and gain access to simpler, smarter and transparent investing. Today, the ability to offer low cost, simpler investing experiences is possible due to better technology, investment products, User Experience improvements & increased regulatory cognizance of next generation investment solutions.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Today’s investors, be it millenials, emerging or mass affluent and high networth individuals, have a severe lack of access to trusted advise and advisors as well as tools. Their busy lives doesn’t allow for them to engage in continuous research and stay on top of market trends. The current model that serves them while investing does not take into account their goals and needs and where they are in the investment life-cycle. Regularly exposed to mediocre/poor service and little or no access to cost effective investment options, more than 70% of this target audience is looking for a smarter, cost-effective, intuitive digital investment option.
WeInvest launched an Investment comparison portal in 2015 for investors to be able to make better investment decisions through an open-market comparison tool. We soon realised that a very large proportion of mass affluent population are typically affected by a number of common problems: Not having a good view of their finances, No views on portfolio-diversification, Lack of disciplined time & effort to manage financial investments, Analysis-paralyisis when provided with multiple investment options. While we were able to give investors a better more transparent view into their options, we were still solving the problems for a small segment of savvy sophisticated investors.
While the promise of Robo-advisory in the developed markets is growing, we realised that in Asia, we need to have a solution which would work across multiple jurisdictions, with multiple regulatory constraints, capital constraints, market structures & investor behaviour across Asia. Hence, the need to come up with a multi-stage solution which addresses segments ranging from aggregation, goal-based advisory, thematic investing including enabling relationship managers.
What is unique about your business?
Most business in our space are pure technology product companies, while WeInvest is a business-service combining technology, operations and strategies.
WeInvest is available on web & mobile applications, and is backed by a robust Middle-to-back office platform which support multiple asset classes, currencies, brokers, business models & custodians. Investment strategies from leading investment houses, quantitative research teams have been collated in the Open-architecture Strategy store similar to an app store, and then executed at institutional rates with Pershing(BNY Mellon) one of the world’s largest custodians.
End-to-end operational support covers customer onboarding, trade administration & customer support. This end-to-end platform is now available as a for Banks, Wealth managers, Asset Management companies for them to launch either a DIY Robo-Advisory service or Hybrid RM assisted service.
For institutions, we offer multiple solution & pricing models. Our end to end service fee or SAAS fees is pegged at a percentage of the Assets under Management, while we also have license fee models for clients who just need an enterprise software.
Who do you sell to and how do you get customers?
We sell our Digital Wealth as a service proposition to Banks , Wealth manager & IFAs. We have been the first in the South-east Asian market to launch digital wealth services, with a competent team, and end-to-end service and pricing/commercial models which are flexible. Most of our prospects are reached by good-old business development efforts, with many of them discovering us at conferences, and with consultants who have been studying our progress and milestones over time.
Why will customers stay or do repeat business with you?
Our customers are banks, IFAs & wealth Managers, and they stay with us because
1) We provide a low-cost solution @ 0.1-0.25% per annum, which is far lower than what the banks can achieve on their own.
2) We can implement & integrate the entire business service in a 3-6 months.
3) We provide a COMPREHENSIVE set of Capabilities ranging from Robo-Advisory, Relationship Manager enabled Advisory, Thematic Investing, Portfolio Analytics, Account Aggregation and an Extensive Back Office.
4) This helps our client protect Assets under management & increase their wallet share.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
The Wealth & FinTech market have been getting a lot of attention. However, it is important to understand regulatory constraints, apart from business model details such as cost-of-acquisition of clients, before you come up with a final value proposition & busness model.
What’s next for you and for WeInvest?
We are looking forward to multiple roll-outs of our Digital Wealth platform across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and South East Asia. Our primary milestone is to reach S$1bn of Assets under management within the first 2-3 years. We have a number of key product roadmap roll-outs coming up in 2017 which would help maintain our leadership position in terms of our services.
Hock Lai has 18 years of experience in the financial industry, having performed roles in both business and technology. He graduated from the National University of Singapore (Real Estate), Nanyang Technological University (Infocomm Technology) and Nanyang Polytechnic (Fund Management & Administration).
He is also a Fellow of the Singapore University of Social Science, advisor to FinTech Startups and mentor to student FinTech projects.
Latest posts by Chia Hock Lai (see all)
- Networking Your Way in FinTech – Heng Wui Liang - July 10, 2017
- Removing Pain from Last Mile Payments – Jeffrey Lam - July 3, 2017
- Making FX Trading Faster and Cheaper – Wong Joo Seng - June 26, 2017