Citi wealth management launches digital financial planning

Product lets clients select their financial goals and create a plan for achieving them

Mar 28, 2019 @ 2:30 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Citi is the latest bank turning to technology to boost its financial advice business.

It's rolling out Citi Wealth Advisor, a digital financial planning product, to members of Citigold, the bank's wealth management program for people with at least $200,000 in assets. Clients select their financial goals and create a road map for how to achieve them.

(More: SigFig launches platform to help retail banks sell financial products)

Similar to other financial planning products on the market, Citi Wealth Advisors lets investors model "what if" scenarios to visualize how controllable elements, such as a change in savings or retirement age, and uncontrollable elements, like a market downturn or a change in Social Security, affect the plan.

"Understanding and preparing for these risks to retirement can be very reassuring," Chuck Cavanaugh, head of wealth planning at Citi Personal Wealth Management, said in a statement.

Citi Wealth Advisor includes a "confidence score" that estimates the probability of achieving the goal and recommends investing solutions to help. The client's dedicated financial adviser or Citigold team can also recalibrate the plans as needed.

In conjunction with the launch, Citi announced that Citigold clients will now get commission-free trading on ETFs and new-issue U.S. Treasury purchases.

Banks like Citi see financial planning as a way to increase client engagement, keep more assets with the bank rather than a third-party brokerage, and boost cross-selling across business verticals. The bank has about 200 million customer accounts.

"And for clients who are already on pace to achieve their retirement goals, we can advance into meeting other goals like funding health care, college, travel and charitable giving," Mr. Cavanaugh said. "Our advisers are supported by a number of specialist teams that can provide investment analysis, risk management and advanced planning strategies."

It's not clear whether Citi built the financial planning product in-house or partnered with an outside provider. The bank did not respond to a request for additional comment.

To Gavin Spitzner, president of Wealth Consulting Partners, Citi Wealth Advisor looks like a customized version of MoneyGuidePro, which was recently acquired by Envestnet for $500 million.

"That is to be applauded, but their messaging is confusing because in the same announcement they talk about offering commission-free ETFs," Mr. Spitzner said in an email. "It would have made more sense to me to do [that announcement] in conjunction with a managed, automated digital advice program that ties into goals-based investing."

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