DBS launches robo-investor to encourage investing

DBS Bank's robo-investor platform uses simple language that first-time investors can understand, such as giving risk levels snappy labels. A risk level 4, for example, is "fast and furious".
DBS Bank's robo-investor platform uses simple language that first-time investors can understand, such as giving risk levels snappy labels. A risk level 4, for example, is "fast and furious".PHOTO: DBS BANK

Customers can choose their risk level and investment amount

DBS has become the latest bank to employ technology to make it easier for customers to invest and manage their portfolios.

Its DBS digiPortfolio, a "robo-investor" service announced yesterday, went live to its Wealth customers on Monday, after a pilot programme that started in September.

It allows customers to select an investment portfolio, choose their risk level and pick an investment amount as low as $1,000, all with a few clicks instead of having to spend time doing their own research or hiring managers.

The "robot" manages portfolios by automating processes such as rebalancing, executing trades and monitoring investment performance while being guided by the DBS investment team.

The platform uses simple language that first-time investors can understand, such as giving risk levels snappy labels. A risk level 4, for example, is "fast and furious".

There will also be a graph that projects the amount of investment return that a customer can expect.

Mr Lim Soon Chong, regional head of investment products and advisory at DBS Consumer Banking Group and Wealth Management, said only one in 10 Singaporeans made investment transactions in the past 12 months.

This is because of issues such as lack of time, high upfront fees and inertia due to the tedious process of filling in forms, meeting advisers and having to make many choices.

The new platform aims to simplify this process, especially for first-time investors.

Mr Christophe Marciano, head of discretionary portfolio management, said the platform brings together the combined skills of investment teams across the bank: "The humans know the best investment strategies, choices and funds.

"The question is how to deliver this expertise to all the clients and scale it up. That is where technology comes in to make this robo-investor what it is."

Mr Lim said the cost of managing a portfolio is also reduced because of the high degree of automation. The platform has no sales charge.

A customer investing $1,000 simply has to pay a flat management fee of 0.75 per cent a year.

The service will be rolled out to all DBS customers by the end of the year. DBS has around 5.2 million retail customers, including three million who bank online.

Other banks are also using technology to help investors.

UOB Asset Management upgraded its digital advisory service last October to allow corporate clients to invest in a customised portfolio based on their goals, investment horizon and risk profiles.

OCBC started a service last August allowing customers to indicate their risk appetite.

Its robo-invest service will recommend portfolios. The algorithm monitors each portfolio automatically and periodically re-balances assets if needed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2019, with the headline 'DBS launches robo-investor to encourage investing'. Print Edition | Subscribe