Betterment launches Co-Pilot tool for advisers

The latest launch by Betterment kicks off the fintech’s mission to rapidly grow its adviser-focused business line throughout the year.

Betterment announced Thursday it is launching a new command center designed for the 2,000 advisers on its platform to intelligently identify tasks that engage advisers better with their investor clients’ needs. 

The tool is called Co-Pilot, which the fintech announced Thursday, and it aggregates a to-do list of client needs an adviser should address. This first version of Co-Pilot includes an option for nudging clients about accepting invites to access Betterment, resurfacing expired invites, sending client’s email reminders about approving account openings, adding missing beneficiary information and monitoring pending and failed automated customer account transfers, known as ACATs.

“We want [Co-Pilot] to be the place that an adviser goes to when they start their day to say: ‘What do I need to be paying attention to?’ Rather than advisers having to go hunting for that information,” said Jon Mauney, general manager of Betterment for Advisors. 

The next wave of features that are expected to roll out throughout the summer will focus on higher-order tasks like reminding clients to max out their IRAs and surfacing required minimum distribution for clients, Mauney said.

Co-Pilot is a part of Betterment’s strategy of offering advisers “machine assistance,” Mauney said. By that he means having technology like artificial intelligence collaborate with advisers so they are presented with their “next best action,” he said. 

Just as Amazon.com Inc. suggests purchases to customers based on their search history, next best action enables advisers to identify and prioritize actions based on clients’ needs and behaviors.   

“I call this machine assistance because we have access to this data and can curate it and surface it at the right moments,” he said. “But we still lean towards allowing the adviser to manage the relationship. So we want to surface these potential touch points to them, and then let them decide what to do with it.” 

The goal is to make it easier for advisers to select how they wish to engage with their clients, versus using technology to manage the client relationship for the adviser, Mauney said.

The latest tech launch by Betterment for Advisers kicks off the fintech’s new mission to rapidly grow its adviser-focused business line throughout the year, Mauney said. “This is the early waves of our expanded investment in adviser products, where the sort of frequency with which we’re launching things within the space is accelerating because we’re resourcing the business more.”

Betterment’s business has been growing quickly amid the pandemic. The robo-adviser grew its assets under management from $18 billion in 2020 to $29 billion during the first quarter under the leadership of new CEO Sarah Levy. Betterment also added 56,000 new clients to the platform, bolstering account openings 116% year over year, according to a release. 

The robo-adviser’s growth could also be attributed to its multiple business lines and recent acquisition activity. Under its founder and former CEO Jon Stein, who stepped down as CEO in December, Betterment entered the business-to-business space with the launch of both its 401(k) arm, Betterment for Business, and adviser services platform, Betterment for Advisors, in addition to the company’s retail offering. 

Betterment 401(k) signed partnership deals with Zenefits and Bennie, making its 401(k) offering available to a larger customer base. The robo-adviser is also offering joint checking accounts that allows them to become the primary banking institution for more households.

The largest push to expand offerings for Betterment for Advisors is the launch of custom model portfolios in February, where advisers have the ability to build their own custom model portfolios of exchange-traded funds, at no additional cost, while leveraging Betterment’s portfolio management tools, including automated rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting, asset location and tax-optimized sales for withdrawals. 

Betterment also announced the purchase of Wealthsimple’s U.S. book of business in March, which will add more than 17,000 clients and $190 million in AUM at the end of June.

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