Articles related to software development

Empirica presented technology for Robo-Advisors at Cloud Expo, New York

Empirica proudly presented the technology for Robo-Advisors; How to build great software behind your Fintech service at Cloud Expo 2017 in Manhattan, New York.

The event was from 6th to 8th of June 2017 at Javits Center in New York City, where panels were hosting star speakers from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. The event was focused on Fintech, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Computing and other hot technology fields and topics. There was a tremendous turn out to Cloud Expo 2017. The event was honored to host speakers and audiences from around the world. Global leaders in technology such as Amazon Web Services, IBM cloud, DEll EMC and financial industry giants like Accenture and Deloitte, together with successful companies and brands around the world , brought the latest trends of technology in one place.

Mr Michal Rozanski, Empirica CEO and board member of EARP Integration used his 35 minutes on stage, introducing new technologies in Robo-Advisory arena. Mr Rozanski, show cased Empirica’s newly built Robo-Advisory platform to express the importance of fine technology in automated wealth management solutions. The speech carried on with Mr Rozanski, explaining the maturity Empirica gained facing challenges during development of a modern Robo-Advisory platform from scratch. The session was concluded with Mr Rozanski give away on informing the essential factors of developing a software behind a Fintech service, and answering the ‘HOW’ for those intending to build such applications.

Moreover, visitors and audiences could meet Empirica representatives at their dedicated booth at Cloud Expo, where they could ask and discuss deeper and in details about the technology behind Fintech services as well as the technology behind Robo-Advisory.

 

 

 

 

Empirica presented robo advisory software at FinTech Connect Live in London

Empirica took part in the biggest FinTech Event in Europe with almost 2500 attendees from 44 countries and 145 exhibitors & partners, taking place in London this December (6th & 7th). FinTech Connect Live combined a large scale expo, with 180 experts speaking in 120 dedicated conferences focusing on different FinTech subsectors, like WealthTech, InsurTech or PayTech with strategic discussion based sessions, keynote presentations, product demos and interactive workshops.

fintech-connect-live-2016Empirica proudly presented own white label solutions like an intelligent Robo-Advisory Platform, Algorithmic Trading Engine and FinTech Software Framework as well as development services among both tech giants and brand new start ups with sophisticated niche product offerings. Anyone interested in speaking with Empirica about building the bespoke FinTech solution behind own service could meet our team at the stand. We shared experiences gained for over 6 years of developing solutions for financial institutions and FinTech companies, including robo-advisors. We ran many interesting conversations about new market trends and needs, specially in wealth management space. Our Robo-Advisory Platform received huge attention from asset managers and investment companies participating in the event.

Empirica presented also company showcase demo at the showcase theater. While presenting our experiences, CEO of Empirica illustrated the most important issues of building tailored FinTech software.

fintech-connect-live-2016-sDuring the conference there were many interesting presentations and panel discussions about future trends of robo advice and advancements in the fields of InvesTech and WealthTech and other FinTech sessions like: the future of banking, blockchain rising, opportunities and risks in the data economy in FinTech, crowdfunding & P2P lending.

Thank you to all the participants who visited us at our stand or watched our showcase demo presentation! 

Empirica Team

 

See our Robo Advisor Software:
 
See our Robo Advisor Software

Who is moving FinTech forward in continental Europe? Thoughts after FinTech Forum on Tour.

By Michal Rozanski, CEO at Empirica.

In the very centre of Canary Wharf, London’s financial district, in a brand new EY building, a very interesting FinTech conference took place – FinTech Forum on Tour. The invitation-only conference targeted the most interesting startups from the investment area (InvestTech) from mainland Europe. The event had representative stakeholders from the entire financial ecosystem. As Efi Pylarinou noted – the regulator, the incumbents, the insurgents, and investors, were all represented.

 

Empirica was invited to present its flagship product – Algorithmic Trading Platform, which is a tool professional investors use for building, testing and executing of algorithmic strategies. However, it was amazing to see what is happening in other areas of the investment industry. There were a lot of interesting presentations of companies transforming the FinTech industry in the areas of asset and wealth management, social trading and analytics.

 

The conference was opened with a keynote speech by Anna Wallace from FCA. Anna talked about the mission of FCA’s Innovation Hub; that is to promote innovation and competition in the financial technology field and to ensure that rules and regulations are respected. Whilst listening to Anna it became clear to me what the real advantage of London holds in the race to become the global FinTech capital – London has Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the Government in one place – and what’s most important, they cooperate trying to push things forward in one direction.

 

FinTech Forum on Tour

 

Robo-advisory

A short look at the companies presenting themselves at the event leads to the conclusion that the hottest sector of FinTech right now is robo-advisory. It’s so hot, that one of the panellists noted it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate for robo-advisory startups. On FinTech on Tour this sector was represented by AdviseOnly from Italy, In2experience,  Niiio, Vaamo and Fincite – all from Germany. Ralf Heim from Fincite presented an interesting toolkit ‘algo as a service’ and white label robo-advisory solutions. Marko Modsching from niiio revealed the motivation of retail customers, that “they do not want to be rich, they do not want to be poor”. Scalable Capital stressed the role of risk management in its offering of robo advisory services.

 

Social analysis/Sentiment/ Big Data

The social or sentiment analysis area, keeps growing and gains traction. Every day there’s more data and more trust in the results of backtesting as that data builds up over the years. The social media space is gaining ground. Investment funds as well as FinTech startups are finding new ways to use sentiment data for trading. And, it’s inseparably related with the analysis of huge amounts of data, so technically the systems behind it? are not trivial.

Anders Bally gave an interesting presentation about how to deal with sentiment data and showed  how his company Sentifi is identifying and ranking financial market influencers in social channels, and what they discuss.

Sentitrade showed its sentiment engine for opinion mining that is using proprietary sentiment indicator and trend reversal signals. Sentitrade is concentrated on German-speaking markets.

 

Asset management

From the area of asset management an interesting pitch was given by Cashboard, offering alternative asset classes and preparing now for a  huge TV marketing campaign . StockPluse showed how to combine information derived from social networks and base investment decisions on the overall sentiment. United Signals allows for social investing by making it possible to trade by copying transactions of chosen trading gurus with a proven track record, all in an automated way. And, finally BondIT, an Israeli company, presented tools for fixed income portfolio construction, optimization and rebalancing with use of algorithms.

 

Bitcoin and Blockchain

An interesting remark was given   by one of the panelist: ‘we have nearly scratched the surface for what blockchain technology can be applied to in financial industry’. Looking at the latest news reports that are saying that big financial institutions are heavily investing in blockchain startups and their own research in this field, there is definitely something in it.

A company from this sector of FinTech – Crypto Facilities, represented by its CEO Timo Schaefer, showed  the functionalities of its bitcoin derivatives trading platform.

 

Other fields

Hervé Bonazzi, CEO of Scaled Risk, presented its technologically advanced Big Data platform for financial institutions for risk management, compliance, analytics and fraud detection. Using Hadoop under the hood and low latency processing. Ambitious as it sounds.

Analysis of financial data for company  valuations, Valutico presented a tool that’s using big data, AI and swarm intelligence. Dorothee Fuhrmann from Prophis Technologies (UK) presented a generic tool for financial institutions to derive value and insights from data, interestingly describing indirect exposures and a hidden transmission mechanism.

Stephen Dubois showed  what Xignite (US) has to offer to financial institutions and other FinTech startups in the area of real-time and historical data that is stored in the cloud and accessible by proprietary API.

 Qumram, in an energetic presentation delivered by Mathias Wegmueller, described technology for recording online sessions on web, mobile and social channels, allowing for the analysis of user behaviour and strengthening internal security policy.

 

Conclusion

London is the place to be for FinTech startups. No city in Europe gives such possibilities. Tax deductions for investors. Direct help from the UK regulator FCA. Great choice of incubators and bootcamps for startups. No place gives such a kick. Maybe Silicon Valley is the best place for finding investor for a startup, maybe the Wall Street is the centre of the financial world, but London is the place that combines both the tech and the finance. It has a real chance of becoming the FinTech capital of the world.

 

About organizators

The people responsible for creating both a great and professional atmosphere at the event were Samarth Shekhar and Michael Mellinghoff. Michael was a great mentor of mine who transformed my pitch from a long and quite boring list of functionalities of our product to something that was bearable for the audience. Michael let me thank you once more for the time and energy you have devoted to Empirica’s pitch!

 

And because the FinTech scene in our region is not well organized yet, I sincerely advise all FinTech startups from Central and Eastern Europe to attend cyclic events of FinTech Forum in Frankfurt organized by Techfluence professionals!

 
Read about our Lessons learned from FinTech software projects.

 

 

FinTech Companies

 

 

 

FinTech. Lessons learned from over 5 years of financial technology software projects.

By Michal Rozanski, CEO at Empirica.

 

Reading news about fintech we regularly see the big money inflow to new companies with a lot of potentially breakthrough ideas. But aside from the hype from the business side, there are sophisticated technical projects going on underneath. And for new fintech ideas to be successful, these projects have to end with the delivery of great software systems that scale and last. Because we have been building these kind of systems for the fintech area for over 5 years we want to share a bit of our experience.

 

fintech empirica

 

“Software is eating the world”. I believe these words by Marc Andreessen. And now the time has come for finance, as technology is transforming every corner of the financial sector. Algorithmic trading, which is our speciality, is a great example. Other examples include lending, payments, personal finance, crowdfunding, consumer banking and retail investments. Every part of the finance industry is experiencing rapid changes triggered by companies that propose new services with heavy use of software.
The best evidence that something is happening somewhere is to see where the money goes. Investments in fintech companies globally grew to $12 billion last year, which is a three times increase comparing to 2013, and five times during the last five years, according to the research reports by CBInsights.

If fintech relies on software, and there is so much money flowing into fintech projects, what should be looked for when making a fintech software project? Our outsourcing software projects for the fintech industry as well as building our own algorithmic trading platform has taught us a lot. Now we want to share our lessons learned from these projects.

 

1. The process – be agile.

Agile methodology is the essence of how software projects should be made. Short iterations. Frequent deliveries. Fast and constant feedback from users. Having a working product from early iterations, gives you the best understanding of where you are now, and where you should go.
It doesn’t matter if you outsource the team or build everything in-house; if your team is local or remote. Agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban will help you build better software, lower the overall risk of the project and will help you show the business value sooner.

 

2. The team – hire the best.

A few words about productivity in software industry. The citation is from my favourite article by Robert Smallshire ‘Predictive Models of Development Teams and the Systems They Build’ : ‘… we know that on a small 10 000 line code base, the least productive developer will produce about 2000 lines of debugged and working code in a year, the most productive developer will produce about 29 000 lines of code in a year, and the typical (or average) developer will produce about 3200 lines of code in a year. Notice that the distribution is highly skewed toward the low productivity end, and the multiple between the typical and most productive developers corresponds to the fabled 10x programmer.’.
I don’t care what people say about lines of code as a metric of productivity. That’s only used here for illustration.
The skills of the people may not be that important when you are building relatively simple portals with some basic backend functionality. Or mobile apps. But if your business relies on sophisticated software for financial transactions processing, then the technical skills of those who build it make all the difference.

And this is the answer to the unasked question why we in Empirica are hiring only best developers.

We the tech founders tend to forget how important it is to have not only best developers but also the best specialists in the area which we want to market our product. If you are building an algo trading platform, you need quants. If you are building banking omnichannel system, you need bankers. Besides, especially in B2B world, you need someone who will speak to your customers in their language. Otherwise, your sales will suck.
And finally, unless you hire a subcontractor experienced in your industry, your developers will not understand the nuances of your area of finance.

 

3. The product – outsource or build in-house?

If you are seriously considering building a new team in-house, please read the points about performance and quality, and ask yourself the question – ‘Can I hire people who are able to build systems on required performance and stability levels?’. And these auxiliary questions – can you hire developers who really understand multithreading? Are you able to really check their abilities, hire them, and keep them with you? If yes, then you have a chance. If not, better go outsource.
And when deciding on outsourcing – do not outsource just to any IT company hoping they will take care. Find a company that makes systems similar to what you intend to build. Similar not only from a technical side but also from a business side.
Can outsourcing be made remotely without an unnecessary threat to the project? It depends on a few variables, but yes. Firstly, the skills mentioned above are crucial; not the place where people sleep. Secondly, there are many tools to help you make remote work as smooth as local work. Slack, trello, github, daily standups on Skype. Use it. Thirdly, find a team with proven experience in remote agile projects. And finally – the product owner will be the most important position for you to cover internally.

And one remark about a hidden cost of in-house development, inseparably related to the IT industry – staff turnover costs. Depending on the source of research, turnover rates for software developers are estimated at 25% to even 38%. That means that when constructing your in-house team, every fourth or even every third developer will not be with you in a year from now. Finding a good developer – takes months. Teaching a new developer and getting up to speed – another few months. When deciding on outsourcing, you are also outsourcing the cost and stress of staff turnover.

 

4. System’s performance.

For many fintech areas system’s performance is crucial. Not for all, but when it is important, it is really important. If you are building a lending portal, performance isn’t as crucial. Your customers are happy if they get a loan in a few days or weeks, so it doesn’t matter if their application is processed in 2 seconds or in 2 minutes. If you are building an algo trading operations or payments processing service, you measure time in milliseconds at best, but maybe even in nanoseconds. And then systems performance becomes a key input to the product map.
95% of developers don’t know how to program with performance in mind, because 95% of software projects don’t require these skills. Skills of thinking where bytes of memory go, when they will be cleaned up, which structure is more efficient for this kind of operation on this type of object. Or the nightmare of IT students – multithreading. I can count on my hands as to how many people I know who truly understand this topic.

 

5. Stability, quality and level of service.

Finance is all about the trust. And software in fintech usually processes financial transactions in someway.
Technology may change. Access channels may change. You may not have the word ‘bank’ in your company name, but you must have its level of service. No one in the world would allow someone to play with their money. Allowing the risk of technical failure may put you out of business. You don’t want to spare on technology. In the fintech sector there is no room for error.

You don’t achieve quality by putting 3 testers behind each developer. You achieve quality with processes of product development. And that’s what the next point is about.

 

6. The Dev Ops

The core idea behind DevOps is that the team is responsible for all the processes behind the development and continuous integration of the product. And it’s clear that agile processes and good development practices need frequent integrations. Non-functional requirements (stability and performance) need a lot of testing. All of this is an extra burden, requiring frequent builds and a lot of deployments on development and test machines. On top of that there are many functional requirements that need to be fulfilled and once built, kept tested and running.

On many larger projects the team is split into developers, testers, release managers and system administrators working in separate rooms. From a process perspective this is an unnecessary overhead. The good news is that this is more the bank’s way of doing business, rarely the fintech way. This separation of roles creates an artificial border when functionalities are complete from the developers’ point of view and when they are really done – tested, integrated, released, stable, ready for production. By putting all responsibilities in the hands of the project team you can achieve similar reliability and availability, with a faster time to the market. The team also communicates better and can focus its energy on the core business, rather than administration and firefighting.

There is a lot of savings in time and cost in automation. And there are a lot of things that can be automated. Our DevOps processes have matured with our product, and now they are our most precious assets.

 

7. The technology.

The range of technologies applied for fintech software projects can be as wide as for any other industry. What technology makes best fit for the project depends, well, on the project. Some projects are really simple such as mobile or web application without complicated backend logic behind the system. So here technology will not be a challenge. Generally speaking, fintech projects can be some of the most challenging projects in the world. Here technologies applied can be the difference between success and failure. Need to process 10K transaction per second with a mean latency under 1/10th ms. You will need a proven technology, probably need to resign from standard application servers, and write a lot of stuff from scratch, to control the latency on every level of critical path.

Mobile, web, desktop? This is more of a business decision than technical. Some say the desktop is dead. Not in trading. If you sit whole day in front of the computer and you need to refer to more than one monitor, forget the mobile or web. As for your iPhone? This can be used as an additional channel, when you go to a lunch, to briefly check if the situation is under control.

 

8. The Culture.

After all these points up till now, you have a talented team, working as a well-oiled mechanism with agile processes, who know what to do and how to do it. Now you need to keep the spirits high through the next months or years of the project.
And it takes more than a cool office, table tennis, play station or Friday parties to build the right culture. Culture is about shared values. Culture is about a common story. With our fintech products or services we are often going against big institutions. We are often trying to disrupt the way their business used to work. We are small and want to change the world, going to war with the big and the powerful. Doesn’t it look to you like another variation of David and Goliath story? Don’t smile, this is one of the most effective stories. It unifies people and makes them go in the same direction with the strong feeling of purpose, a mission. This is something many startups in other non fintech branches can’t offer. If you are building the 10th online grocery store in your city, what can you tell your people about the mission?

 

Final words

Fintech software projects are usually technologically challenging. But that is just a risk that needs to be properly addressed with the right people and processes or with the right outsourcing partner. You shouldn’t outsource the responsibility of taking care of your customers or finding the right market fit for your product. But technology is something you can usually outsource and even expect significant added value after finding the right technology partner.
At Empirica we have taken part in many challenging fintech projects, so learn our lessons, learn from others, learn your own and share it. This cycle of learning, doing and sharing will help the fintech community build great systems that change the rules of the game in the financial world!

 

 

Empirica lectures on Fund Industry Summit 2014

Empirica was invited to give a lecture on ‘Usage of Algorithmic Trading in investment funds’ at Fund Industry Summit 2014.

Conference gathered representatives from over 70 financial institutions. The event was held in Warsaw and plans are that it will be repeated in yearly cycles. Especially that both organisers and participants deemed the conference a success.

The agenda of the summit included 9 lectures on topics related to investment funds day-to-day operations like MIFID II and AIFMD European Union directeves, Internet funds distribution and organisation of self-care channels.

Empirica’s lecture, held by its CEO Michal Rozanski on ‘Usage of Algorithmic Trading in investment funds’ was a good opportunity to share with the wider audience results of our latest research regarding market impact reduction in high volume transactions.

 

FIS_Mrz_Speach2

Empirica CEO, Michal Rozanski during the lecture at Fund Industry Summit

Fund Industry Summit 2014

 Empirica CEO, Michal Rozanski during the lecture at Fund Industry Summit

Ekipa z Warszawy

 Our team on Empirica conference stand

Video summarizing Fund Industry Summit 2014

Our Algorithmic Trading Platform in large brokerage house!

Empirica has successfuly finished the implementation of its Algorithmic Trading Platform in one of the largest brokerage houses in Poland.

Brokerage house will use our software to:

  • aid its internal trading operations, like market making of derivatives on Warsaw Stock Exchange
  • offer functionalities of our platform to its institutional clients, which will be able to build, test and execute their own algorithmic trading strategies

Implementation included connecting of our software system directly to the system of Warsaw Stock Exchange (Universal Trading Platform delivered by NYSE Technologies), as well as the integration with transaction systems of brokerage house. Additionally we have fulfilled and successfuly passed tests regarding the highest security, stability and performance requirements.

This implementation is an important milestone for our system. The usage by team of market makers is a proof that our system is capable of performing high-throughput and low latency operations on level required by most sophisticated traders on the capital marketets.

 

Robo advisors – new wave in FinTech

In the space between DIY investing and personal — but pricey — financial advisors sits the robo-advisor, a crop of firms that manage client portfolios via computer algorithms, cutting prices and passing the savings on to investors. These online advisers have taken off over the last several years: There are currently a couple hundred firms in the race.

What’s a robo advisor?
A robo-advisor is an on-line financial advisory firm that leverages automation and algorithms to help manage client portfolios. That automation empowers robo-advisors to offer investment management services to consumers for a fraction of the price of a financial advisor that is human. Lower fees, joined with superior features like automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting, can yield higher returns.

How they work
Most of the companies urge portfolios of low cost exchange-traded funds according to surveys that are on-line that investors fill out. The thought is that investors will do with generally diversified portfolios and low fees.

The companies use algorithms to put investors into various portfolios according to risk tolerance.

How to use Robo-Advisor

Automated Customer Onboarding – the questionnaire

The questionnaire is the first step of using Robo Advisor. User’s profile is being created with parameters like:

  • age (defining overall risk aversion level)
  • investment goals (defining users expectations)
  • users experience with losses/gains
  • making important financial decisions

Our Robo Advisory platform covers the interpretation of user’s answers into automated advise.

 

Balance projection

Balance projection gives the user quick view how his portfolio balance would look like in the future for given investment values. In order to make the projection more eye-catching we introduced possibility of generating balance curve based on either static growth or mathematical function development. For example, on average, portfolio increases 4% every year.

 

Asset allocation

Asset allocation is the selection process of the right instruments adequate to users risk profile. Our platform allows to automate managing the allocation, using defined algorithm. For example, with higher portfolio risk we can invest more into stocks and with smaller portfolio risk we invest more into fixed income products. Real asset allocation model has to be decided.

 

User Portfolio,

It is possible to monitor user’s portfolio balance in user dashboard. Platform provides history of portfolio balance over the selected period. User is able to check his current portfolio allocation grouped by three factors:

  • Instrument type
  • Instrument sector
  • Instrument region

 

Portfolio rebalancing

Automated portfolio rebalancing is a crucial functionality for robo-advisory service. Let’s assume that user got asset allocation with 60% stocks and 40% fixed incomes. Over the time, because of the reinvesting dividends or other user-defined factor, his portfolio allocation changed to 70% stocks and 30% fixed incomes. User does not want to take such a big risk so we do portfolio rebalancing to back to original allocation.

 

 

List of successful robo advisors

Betterment
Betterment is a perfect starting point for young investors. They make investing easy for beginners by focusing on simple asset allocation, goal …

Personal Capital
A free and easy-to-use service that syncs up all your financial accounts in one location. Personal Capital creates summaries of your spending, net …

Wealthfront
An automated investing service with an emphasis on asset allocation with low fees. Wealthfront’s service really shines with taxable accounts….

Stash Invest
Stash could be the perfect investment app for a new investor. Its $5 minimum initial deposit removes the single biggest obstacle to investing, but the…

Fidelity Go
Fidelity’s entry into the robo-advisor service helps beginning investors. Its pricing is very transparent, and if you have an existing account, …

Aspiration
Aspiration may be the perfect robo-advisor service for anyone who wants to invest in socially responsible companies. They have low fees, and the fee-…

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
Overall a solid entry into the robo-advisor space. Though the service will exclude beginning investors because of the high minimum deposit. Other robo…

WiseBanyan
WiseBanyan is a free robo-advisor service with some decent features. Unfortunately, we question if the business model is sustainable….

Hedgeable
Hedgeable brings the techniques of hedge funds down to the less well-heeled masses, so everyone can have access to the investment industry “secrets.”…

TradeKing Advisors
TradeKing Advisors is a platform well worth investigating if you’re looking for professional investment management at a very low fee and $500 deposit …

Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios
Overall a decent service that deserves a looking into. Though we question its large allocation to cash and choice of some of the ETFs in order to make…

LearnVest
LearnVest is a decent free budgeting tool. Though compared to its competitors lacks investment reporting. Financial planning is available for an …

Rebalance IRA
Rebalance IRA provides insight into your portfolio and helps you make better decisions by not letting emotions get in the way and selling too often, …

AssetBuilder
AssetBuilder might be a reasonable service to use on large accounts, particularly over $20 million where the annual fee is just 0.20%. But on smaller …

Financial Guard
Financial Guard offers straightforward advice, to upgrade your current portfolio, pay lower fees, and choose better funds. Their business model is …

SigFig
SigFig itself isn’t a bad service, but their recommendations seem simple at best. There are better robo-advisors available….

Wealthsimple
Truewealth

Personalcapital 

FutureAdvisor 

 

Extending the customer base

With a customer base that the size of each of the competition combined, based on Stein, robo advisory Betterment can also be bringing folks, along with assets. It’s not difficult to chalk that up to Stein, and its $0 account minimum admits that some of Betterment’s accounts are modest. But he says all of the customers counted in that tally are saving into funded accounts, with most putting a sizeable amount that is “ away.”

That minimum — or instead, the lack of one — has set the pressure on other robo advisors as well as traditional advisors, many of which have dropped their own minimums over the past year. Private Capital, which has $1.8 billion in assets under management, recently lowered its account minimum by an ambitious 75%, falling from $100,000 to $25,000. The company might have the ability to get away with a minimum still in five digits because its customers also get a dedicated financial advisor.

TradeKing Advisors has lowered its minimum. It found its two tiers of service with initial deposit conditions of $25, and $10,000 000; those minimums now sit at $ and $5, 000. Rich Hagen, the business’s CEO, told NerdWallet that minimums were lowered to remain competitive.

And Wealthfront lowered its account condition 500, noting from $5,000 to $ in a blog post that it was reacting to a “surge in demand” from youthful robo customers . Those customers desired to take advantage of Wealthfront’s generous pricing arrangement, which manages the first $10,000 completely free (Betterment bills 0.35% on accounts under $10,000 that consent to a minimum $100 monthly auto-deposit; those without auto-deposits are charged a monthly fee of $3. That $3 a month — which amounts to more than 7% per annum on a $500 balance — is a point of contention between the two robo-advisors, including a public war of words on Medium.)

 

 

What to look for

To the reader that is causal, the differences between robo advisory companies might appear small but in reality isn’t. You’ve got a choice between:

  • Minimuml Deposit – Some robo advisories it is possible to start out with others and nothing need substantial sums to begin with
  • Yearly Fees – Know about ETF fees and hidden costs
  • Asset allocation – Asset allocation of each robo advisory may differ quite a bit based upon how old you are, and just how their risk assessment questions are answered by you
  • Account Type Support – Do combined, they offer individual, IRA, etc.
  • Automation – Some robo services are 100% automated vs human assisted advice
  • Tax Optimization – Services like Tax-Loss Harvesting
  • Custody of Funds – Handled by you in which they give advice to trading, or directly by the company
  • Management of Assets – Manage only a part or all of your assets
  • Ending-Target – Retirement simply, or other targets (i.e kids education)

 

Best Robo Advisors – Breakdown by Asset Size (2016 Ranking Comparison)

Below is the listing of this year’s top robo advisors by asset size.

# Robo Advisors Total Assets Under Management*
1 Betterment $4,200,000,000
2 Charles Schwab $4,100,000,000
3 Wealthfront $2,800,000,000
4 Personal Capital $2,100,000,000
5 FutureAdvisor $600,000,000

Next release of our algorithmic platform. Version 1.3.4 – has code name “The Firebolt”.

Next implementations of our Algorithmic Trading Platform by customers don’t stop us from developing the platform itself. Working agile requires us to keep the pace in short and frequent iterations, which in case of product means frequent releases, keeping the whole product line stable.

A few iterations that we planned in our 1.3.4 release, code named by our developers ‘The Firebolt’, will include among others:

– even faster real-time replication of all server-side components in master-slave mode (for deployment in larger institutions)

– extended client side backtesting capabilities

– sophisticated charting of backtesting results and statistics

– multiscreen mode of client side application

– additional web-based server-side module for administration & management

 

For those curious about the release name and unfamiliar with Harry Potter, Firebolt is:

“The state-of-the-art racing broom. The Firebolt has unsurpassable balance and pinpoint precision. Aerodynamic perfection.”
—Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup

“The Firebolt has an acceleration of 150 miles an hour in ten seconds and incorporates an unbreakable Braking Charm. Price upon request.”
—Harry reads about the features of the Firebolt.

Speed, precision, balance, perfection. These are the words that describe our software, therefore choosing the code name was kind of obvious :).

 

The Firebolt broom

Warsaw Stock Exchange certifies our Trading Platform

 

Empirica’s Algorithmic Trading Platform has successfully passed the XDP protocol communication certification, issued by the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

From now on Empirica is officially listed as the ISV (Independent Software Vendor) for the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

WSE uses Universal Trading Platform delivered by NYSE Technologies. The same system is used by many other European and world stock exchanges. Fulfilment of technical criteria of Warsaw Stock Exchange makes certification for those markets only a formality for our platform.

The look at best companies in robo advisory space

Some of the recent technology led disruptions in the financial industry are in the areas of giving, payments, money transfers, wealth management, data that was big and cybersecurity. Furthermore, blockchain has opened up endless possibilities for online transactions without need for an intermediary. Today Fintech companies provide financial services using different types of high tech alternatives, thereby competing with the conventional businesses.
More than 20% of financial services business is at risk to Fintech. The financial service players comprehend the threat, but, aren’t certain about the best way to react. E.g., 57% financial services players are unsure about how to respond to blockchain technology; though there is huge potential for transformation through adoption of blockchain in each area of financial market, e.g., capital markets.
FinTech in Wealth Management
The key FinTech led innovations in Wealth Management are in the areas of appraisal of risk profile of the investor, automatic asset allocation, advanced analytics for better investment support, integration of social data for enabling investment decisions, standardization of advice & products to appeal to the cost- conscious investors, scalable distribution design for tapping emerging markets, enhanced performance abilities from integration with decision support systems and shift to technology enabled investment guidance with exception based human intervention[iv].
Financial Advice
When selecting wealth managers clients value a business’s standing and trust more than a counselor’s standing. And though planning is an important factor in driving clients to wealth managers, it becomes more irrelevant when actually choosing an advisor/business. Over 50% customers speed digital channel and self- service capabilities as the top variable for client service encounter, followed closely by accurate account information and efficient procedure. Clients say sites and mobile capabilities will be their primary channels for receiving guidance (59%) compared to divisions (26%) in another two to three years. 46% customers are willing to start an account with robo advisor.
Robo Advisor technology has the potential to cause the largest disruption in Wealth Management, since it’s at the core of most of the above innovations. Robo Advisors basically transform the most significant element of the Wealth Management business, viz., financial guidance.
Products created banks, by asset managers, insurance companies and others to the investors are delivered by the Wealth Management Value Chain.
The whole Wealth Management value chain is influenced by Robo Advisors:
  • Investors – anticipate to get standardized advice through digital channels at any time of their choice, low cost, through self-service mode
  • Advisers- consequently align the merchandises and rely extensively on analytics capabilities of the Robo Advisor to examine investor’s profile and inclination
  • Dealer Groups & Product Makers- keep the standardized products off-the-shelf to satisfy investor’s demand, e.g., wraps
  • Asset Managers, Banks & Insurers – Create and distribute products especially targeted at the investors who need low cost, standardized products, e.g., index funds
With the growing competition from new Fintech players like WealthFront, Betterment, LearnVest, and FutureAdvisor, the mainstream adoption of Robo Advisors is bound to gain impetus.
Best Robo Advisors in 2016
 
The robo advisor field is getting crowded, with new platforms springing up consistently and changing frequently. These exciting algorithmic automated trading platforms comprise of many different players. Some robo advisors (or digital advisors) have higher minimums and more advanced investments platforms. Others use a low cost, low fee secure of index ETFs and mutual funds.
Picking the five finest robo advisor for 2016 is a job that is challenging, because the best robo-advisor for you might not be the best option to your neighbor. Having said that, we’ll analyze, several factors and standing robo -advisers based upon these criteria; low initial investment, low fees, and quantity of services. In general, each of the five finest robo-advisors for 2016 offer well-studied, low fee investment options.
In this evaluation we’ll assume that lower fees and lower investment minimums are preferable along with portfolio management services that are greater. This study presumes that more investment alternatives don’t automatically translate into a much better product while some investors prefer access to a greater variety of investment options. (For more, see: Are Robo Advisors and FA’s Worst Nightmare?)
1. TradeKing Advisors
TradeKing an affiliate of TradeKing Securities, Advisors , LLC is a web-based investment advisory service that offers professional portfolio management to all investors at an affordable cost. The investment process is not difficult. Several questions are answered by you from a risk tolerance questionnaire. Next, TradeKing Advisors provide you with a diversified investment portfolio, managed and designed by the industry experts at Ibbotson Associates, a Morningstar firm.
TradeKing Advisors offers two investing strategies, Center and Momentum portfolios. Additionally, TradeKing is the only advisor in this list that offers the momentum approach.
To develop a portfolio you need at least $500 for a Core Portfolio and $5,000 for the Impetus Portfolio. The five Core Portfolios include a maximum of 17 asset categories with a mix of exchange traded funds and notes. The advantage types comprise national equities, foreign equities, fixed income securities as well as real estate assets. The Momentum Portfolios attempt to harness the market movements and trends.
There is no minimum investment amount to start an account. Fees for portfolios worth more than $5,000 are competitive at TradeKing. The yearly fee for any size Momentum portfolio is 0.50% AUM.
For an additional fee, investors in Core Portfolios may subscribe to Risk Support, an application that tries to stabilize your investments by reducing equity exposure ’ values. The cost for adding Threat Help to Center Portfolios is an additional 0.50% or 0.75% (0.25% 0.50%).
In return for the advisory fee your preferred portfolio is constructed and manages by the adviser. This consists of reinvestments and rebalancing. There are no transaction fees. Unlike most of another robo advisors, TradeKing does n’t offer tax loss harvesting. (For more, view: TradeKing vs. TradeStation: Which Meets Your Needs?)
2. SigFig
Unlike the other robo advisers mentioned, you do a distinctive account is opened by n’t but keep your present investment accounts.
SigFig begins with a quick risk quiz, based upon how old you are and time horizon. The platform has a robust portfolio tracker program which reveals investment yields, your asset allocation, fee breakdowns and more. They have two kinds of services, Asset Management and Diversified Income. This post targets the Asset Management offering.
Funds are recommended by the SigFig strategy based upon a variety of standards, including risk-adjusted three-year historic performance, fees, evaluations and various other variables. That is a $2,000 minimum balance.
SigFig is free for accounts less than $10,000, and the first $10,000 is always handled for free The accounts worth more than $10,000 also have access to an on-line personal investment . that is advisor
This tool optimizes your portfolio and helps minimize fees and maximize returns. When managing a portfolio, SigFig asserts to pick lowest fee funds considering tax impacts and while optimizing returns.
3. Wealthfront
Wealthfront manages a personalized, diversified investment portfolio with a variety of low fee ETFs and builds. The portfolio asset categories are allocated based on the results of a threat survey that was short
Wealthfront’s investment strategy is grounded in modern portfolio theory passive investing strategy. This strategy strives to give the investor the best yield for the least number of danger by using low cost funds.
Wealthfront recently lowered its minimum investment amount to an affordable $500. Additionally, there are not any management fees for accounts valued at less than $10,000. Once you hit $10,000 the Wealthfront platform fees are 0.25% of AUM. Similar to SigFig, always is the first $10,000 handled free. There are no trading fees and the underlying mutual fund fees average a low 0.12%.
Wealthfront offers several portfolio management services that are added. The single-stock diversification service addresses the ‘overweight in company stock’ problem for employees with an abundance of business stock. The company claims to practice ‘tax- optimized direct investing ’ a strategy for tax-loss harvesting and minimizing investing prices. In lieu of the actual index ETF, individual stocks representing an index are bought under this particular practice in order that particular stocks may be sold for tax loss harvesting. The company also performs ‘day-to-day tax-loss harvest’. Finally, Wealthfront offers regular rebalancing.
4. Betterment
Wealthfront’s closest competition, Betterment offers a low cost, investing approach that is passive, index fund. Betterment starts out with a brief hazard questionnaire. Betterment guarantees to get each customer and the greatest yields for the least amount of risk the optimum fund mix. Their offerings include 12 asset classes that account for time horizon and your risk inclination.
Similar to Wealthfront, Betterment’s investment alternatives include low- index reciprocal, fee or exchange traded funds. The Betterment platform allows for up to 12 stock and bond funds signifying both international and U.S. investment opportunities.
Betterment’s fees range from 0.15% to 0.35%, depending upon the AUM and auto-deposit pick. Betterment does not have a minimum investment amount. For accounts valued at less than $10,000 there are 2 pricing options; with at least a $100 per month auto deposit, the management fee is 0.35%, without automobile deposit, the fee for lower balance account is $3.00 per month. There are no additional transaction fees, except the fundamental low expense ratio fees billed by the fund companies. The ETF management fees range from 0.09% to 0.17%.
Eventually, services that are additional are additionally offered by Betterment. Consumers receive personalized advice, intelligent rebalancing, tax efficiency that is extreme and tax loss harvesting. (For more, see: Wealthfront Versus Betterment)
5. Schwab Intelligent Advisor
Schwab’s recent entry into the robo advisor domain makes a splash on account of its model that is free. This platform guarantees no advisory fees, account service fees or commissions. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios calls itself an “on-line investment advisory service that rebalances your portfolio, and assembles, monitors -so you don’t have to.” Similar to Betterment, Schwab is aims- established and helps you keep on top of your savings and income targets.
Schwab requires at least $5,000 to open an Intelligent Portfolios account. That is the highest minimum prerequisite for each of the robo-advisor discussed in this article.
The first 12 question query form gives Schwab the advice to design your portfolio. Although their ETF portfolio allows for up to 20 asset categories, your individual account may not contain each of their offerings. Schwab has the broadest asset classes and investment options of any of the former advisers that are automated and includes property, fixed income, stock, and commodity ETFs. Where Schwab differs is in the allocation to cash. Each Intelligent Portfolio has a percentage invested in cash. Schwab clarifies that cash is not unimportant to some well-diversified portfolio and enhances stability, liquidity, diversification, and protects against possible inflation.
Schwab can afford to offer a no-fee service because they’ll get earnings on the consumers’ investments their ‘Schwab- money market funds’ and branded ETFs. Additionally they may be compensated by the firms which make the trades. As with all of the companies, there are annual management fees for the underlying ETFs. According to Schwab, “ETFs offered by other online advisors have operating expense ratios in ranges similar to that of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios.” The total operating expense ratio of a typical portfolio will range from 0.12% for a conservative portfolio for 0.25% AUM for the more aggressive investor.
Schwab’s services include the typical automatic rebalancing. Eligible for the automatic tax loss harvesting .
In accordance with the criteria of low fees, diverse index fund offerings, and robust services, the best robo advisor for 2016 goes to SigFig. SigFig offers the most extensive collection of services, including an online private adviser for accounts greater than $10,000. Their app is state of the art and the portfolio corrector is powerful. That said, it’s a rough contest to call the winner of the ‘best robo advisor’ because it is important to think about your own personal situation. If you will want platform which holds your assets within their custody, then certainly one of the other robos might be a better fit for you.
 
 
Why humans are not best at wealth management
 
Most financial advisers are human. And that’s an enormous difficulty.
Humans come hardwired with cognitive biases that frequently lead them to make best choices that are financial. Research implies that people see patterns in data where none exist, they believe they’re more knowledgeable or skillful than they actually are, and they overlook possibly important advice, even when it’s as clear as a gorilla on a basketball court, as a well-known experiment proved.
And, regrettably, financial professionals are equally as individual as their customers, leaving them just as vulnerable to cognitive biases. Studies have found that mutual-fund managers—professionals who are arguably very inspired to beat their inclinations that were adverse — make expensive investment mistakes, just like others.
The effect of those errors is important underperformance. One of the big appeals of advisers that are human is active management—the thought that these are investment experts who make moves that deliver returns that are larger than simply tracking an index, for instance.
Yet the evidence consistently demonstrates that managed funds have a tendency to underperform passively managed ones. So pick an unpredictable although active human advisor as opposed to a robo advisor, which will typically take a passive approach that produces yields that are more consistent?
If investors feel confident that cognitive biases can be defeat by their human adviser, there’s another issue to consider: Human advisors have financial incentives that don’t constantly work to the benefit of their clients.
An investor with deep pockets might sidestep this issue that is particular by seeking an independent advisor who charges an hourly consulting rate in the place of relying on commissions or performance fees. But many individuals may not be able to manage this alternative.
Consider an investor socking away a handful of thousand dollars every year over a lifetime. A human advisor might charge that investor an annual fee of 1% to 2% of assets versus a robo-advisor fee of 0.25% to 0.50%—a difference that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars in lost wealth. Robo advising offers a viable, low cost investment option that’s within reach even of investors that are new starting out with little nest eggs.
Needless to say, the robo-advisor name is a tiny misnomer; some of these services offer their clients the opportunity to connect to a person if they believe they want additional hand holding. That fuels the argument that robo advisers can’t supply the in depth, hands-on services that people can.
Yet, in several cases, digital advisors are fully capable of providing cogent evaluation and helping investors understand aims and their needs. Actually, in some instances, a robo advisor is even better equipped to provide service to customers than a human adviser. But a robo adviser could send all its clients electronic messages at the same time to remind them that their portfolio was selected with their characteristics in mind, and it remains appropriate in the face of market changes.
It’s additionally important to note that while investors may feel comforted by the idea of the “human touch,” the conflicts of underperformance and interest at traditional advisors help it become clear that the human touch may cultivate a false sense of security.
Needless to say, robo advising won’t fit every situation. Investors with complex company, estate or tax circumstances may benefit from the more customized guidance of a conventional financial adviser. But for the majority of investors, robo advising offers advantages that can interpret into a more buxom bottom line as opposed to typical adviser that is individual can deliver.