Move with the Markets: Introducing Portfolio View

Today we’re excited to announce a signature product that brings seamless retail investing to any app or website. Introducing Portfolio View: the first real time investing aggregation service.

With real time stock quotes, you’ll never miss a beat on the markets. Portfolio View features multi-broker integration and TouchID-enabled trading, so you can make fast, confident trades from anywhere, and never miss an opportunity.
portfolio 1Real Time Stock Quotes

Time is money, and overnight updates hold you back. With stock quotes that update in real time, Portfolio View makes sure you’re never a moment behind the market.

Any Account, Any Broker

With multibroker portfolio integration, see all your holdings & buying power, no matter which broker you use.



portfolio 2.pngSave Time, Make Money

Login with TouchID so you never miss a trade.

Still Safe & Secure

We use 256-bit encryption to place your order, and we never store your information.

Portfolio View is coming soon to our network of app partners. Now, when the market moves, you can move with it.

Developer? See the documentation here.

The Empire Strikes Back: Incumbents Take On Unicorn Robo-Advisors

In the past few years, startup robo-advisors have reached new customer demographics with low-cost, automated investment portfolios. However, incumbents have caught up fast with similar products, surpassing the managed assets of their unicorn competitors in less than a year. 

For young, inexperienced investors, the robo-advisor has emerged as a foolproof approach to wealth management. By using a short questionnaire to determine risk tolerance, robo-advisory firms like Betterment, Personal Capital and Wealthfront set up automatically managed portfolios for their clients.

$2.2 Trillion at Stake

Most robo-advisors follow a passive investing strategy, where asset allocation is more important for long-term returns than choosing individual stocks. They build simple portfolios of diversified, low-cost ETFs from Vanguard and Charles Schwab. With lower labor costs, robo-advisors are able to charge low fees: around .25% of assets, compared to 1-2% of assets for traditional advisors.


Source: AT Kearny Research

It is hard to ignore the robo-advisor’s growing popularity; analysts at Deloitte, CitiGroup and AT Kearny predict digitally managed assets to grow from $300 Billion to $2.2 Trillion dollars between now and 2020. Not surprisingly, all of this hype has led to an overcrowded robo-fest, and it appears the existing players are positioned to take the biggest pieces of this $2.2 Trillion dollar pie.

Incumbents Fight Back

Robo-advisor startups have focused on two things: customer acquisition and simpler, more intuitive UX design. The most well funded of these startups, Betterment, Wealthfront and Personal Capital, are all considered tech “unicorns.” While these unicorns pioneered the robo-concept first, analysts have noted since their inception that their UI and customer acquisition wouldn’t take long to replicate.


Unfortunately for the unicorns, big boy incumbents caught on fast, launching their own robo-advisors or acquiring smaller ones. Charles Schwab launched Schwab Advisor Services in 2015, which grew to $5.9 billion in nine months, surpassing the two largest unicorn robo-advisors combined. Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services now controls $17 billion, and Fidelity is launching its own robo-advisor, Fidelity Go, this year. BlackRock has taken a different approach, acquiring robo-advisor startup Future Advisor in 2015.

Trouble Ahead for Unicorns

As the incumbents have caught up, they have driven up the cost of customer acquisition, forcing unicorns to spend an unsustainable $2000 per acquisition. To add to their troubles, unicorns rely on incumbents for investment vehicles, custody & cleaning services. Even Wealthfront & Betterment clients pay management fees to giants like Schwab and Vanguard, who issue the ETFs in their portfolios. As their existing customers mature and build wealth, their investment needs will become more complicated. When this happens, customer retention will be the unicorn’s greatest challenge.

On the other hand, the big incumbent players in the robosphere rest comfortably on more profitable wealth management offerings. As such, their robo-advisors act as an onboarding program for their more sophisticated product offerings, even if they do not generate outrageous profits on their own. Schwab has not seen their existing business decline since launching their robo-advisor; instead, they’re eyeing a massive cross-sell opportunity down the line.

Looks like the big boys aren’t going down without a fight.

FinTech News: January 22nd, 2016

This week in FinTech: how tech giants like Amazon and Google are positioned to enter Finance. Mobile banking is lucrative, but banks are struggling to keep up, fundings, and more. Continue reading

The True Cost of Free Trades

Free trade brokers are great training wheels for new investors, but more experienced traders might want to stick with traditional brokers.

That’s our conclusion after reviewing the increasingly crowded and competitive trading marketplace.

Average Order Size

Orders from incumbent discount and traditional brokers are 1400% and 750% larger than orders from free trade brokers.

We categorize brokers as “traditional,” “discount,” or “free trade.” Traditional online brokers, such as Charles Schwab, focus on the personal touch of retail investing by offering their clients access to a human stockbroker. While they have made recent advances with robo-advisory services, they continue to provide a more old-fashioned (and often more expensive) investing experience for their clients.

Discount brokers have cut costs by stripping away the infrastructure of traditional brokerages. OptionsHouse, for example, offers trades at a $4.95 commission, compared to Schwab’s $8.95. Discount brokers target a younger, more tech-savvy customer who is willing to do more independent research to save on advisory fees.

Jennifer Van GroveIn the last few years, new brokers have begun to offer commission-free trading, breaking the traditional broker’s profit model. In response, well-established brokers fought back by promoting their premium educational and research tools, which free-trade brokers rarely provide. For example, Fidelity ran this ad in Fortune and Wired in 2015, after free-trade brokers started gaining popularity among millennial investors.

Whether or not free-trade brokers can build a profitable business model is still up for debate. More importantly, however, it remains to be seen if free trades are truly beneficial to investors in the long run.

greed buy fear sellAs inconvenient as they are, trade commissions help some anxious investors make better decisions to build long-term wealth. Since individual stocks and ETFs are highly volatile in the short-term, many investors suffer from market anxieties and make rash trade decisions. For these types of investors, trade commissions act as a financial disincentive to participate in the “Greed/Buy” and “Fear/Sell” cycle that causes so many investors to lose money.

Other investors see it differently: stubborn investors who don’t want to pay trade commissions often adopt a “hold & hope” policy when their investments start to decline in value. For stubborn investors, free trades allow them to use their proper judgment and sell poorly chosen investments before they decline in value.

That being said, traditional and discount broker clients trade in much larger quantities, which diminishes the impact of trade commissions. Orders placed through traditional and discount brokers are 1,400% and 750% larger, on average, than orders placed through free trade brokers. For investors who trade in small quantities, a few dollars in trade commissions will eat up a larger percentage of returns, making free-trade brokers more attractive.

Which type of broker is best for you? That depends on your goals. For amateur investors with small portfolios looking to learn the art of trading, a free trade broker could be a smart pick. But for investors who suffer market anxiety or seek to build wealth over the long-term, guidance and education is crucial, and the cost of free trades could be higher than the cost of trade commissions.

APIs Drive Collaboration in Retail Investing

In retail investing, an essential player is working behind the scenes.

Application programming interfaces (commonly abbreviated APIs) have grown 1000% in the past five years, witnessing a period of explosive growth. By enabling different companies’ networks to “talk” to one another, APIs have become a driving force behind retail investing innovation, empowering incumbents to stay relevant and allowing startups to gain fast traction through partnerships.

APIs in finance


Now, what exactly is an API? Commonly compared to translators, or the waiters in a restaurant, APIs are the messengers that act as essential bridges between different companies’ networks. Companies use APIs to expand their brand’s reach and drive engagement from their users. For example, Twitter and Facebook use APIs to enable their users to “like” or “share” posts from third party websites. E-retailers like Amazon use APIs to sell products within complementary apps, penetrating untapped communities of potential customers and driving sales growth.

For any company, an API is a tool to connect a product with new communities. As more companies learn to leverage APIs to cash in on new and existing customers, the API economy has exploded. The number of publicly available APIs doubled in just 18 months, from 2013 to 2015, and shows no signs of slowing down. Rather, spending on API management is expected to increase by 300% by 2020, according to Forrester Research.
APIs - new.002

Despite its initial hesitancy, the financial world has embraced the API; as more banks have made their APIs publicly available, it is becoming a distinct disadvantage not to have one. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of financial APIs increased by 470%, and it continues to grow today. In retail investing, brokers use APIs to integrate trading, account opening, and other financial services across a variety of third party mobile apps and websites, ensuring that their product weaves seamlessly into their customers’ daily lives.
Today, innovation in retail investing has just breached the tip of the iceberg, making it one of the most exciting areas of FinTech. As an API technology provider, we reject the popular “disruption” narrative in favor of a more nuanced reality: API technologies offer an evolution rather than a revolution, bringing incumbent brokers up to speed with the increasingly mobile and app driven investing market.

FinTech News: January 8th, 2016

Enough talk about the tumbling markets! Here’s what you need to know in FinTech this week: APIs changing the narrative, tech taking over finance in China, the biology of good investing, and more. Continue reading