Sunday, November 20, 2016

Smartly Review (Beta)

With Singapore done holding the world's largest Fintech event ever, I thought it was a good time to re-visit Smartly.

I first heard about Smartly back in May this year and I was pretty excited about them.

Fast forward a month later, I managed to meet the guys behind Smartly and I wrote my take why Robo-advisors are something that we should want to use.

I've finally registered to their beta, so I'll be showing some screenshots and talking about it:


These first 3 screenshots show the registration process. Honestly, the registration process was very fast and simple and I never felt that they were asking any more information that what was necessary. The near-instant OTP to verify phone number was a nice touch.


This is actually the "Home" page after you log-in. It's a very, very, very minimal design with the most important information - capital, returns and portfolio value.


To start, you need to create "Goals" so that you can start funding them and of course working towards your goals. There are several goals that you can pick, but they are just suggestions and your choice and name doesn't determine the sort of recommended portfolio you will get. That will be based on your risk questionnaire.


Of course as GMGH, how can my risk profile be anything less than the maximum risk? Haha! After a very, very short and simple questionnaire, you will get a recommended portfolio. There are 10 portfolios in total which of course has increasing risks but returns. The good news is that if you feel that the recommended portfolio is too conservative or risky, you can adjust it to suit your preferences.


The last thing is that you have an area that you can transfer funds from one goal to another goal, which I think is a pretty useful feature!

Thoughts

Personally, I love the simplicity of the user interface. Everything is clean and basic. All the most important information is displayed. Pretty much everything else has been stripped away, which is a good thing, not a bad thing! I think too many people get information overload and that might lead to decision paralysis.

Robo-advisors are SUPPOSED to be boring, and that's because all the hard stuff have been outsourced to robots to do. All you have to do is to control how much to invest and the type of portfolio to invest in. That's it. It's looks super sleek and auto-pilot.

If anything, I think people might be slightly disappointed by how simple the user experience feels. But I can assure you that this is the way that it should be - simple, easy to understand, boring.

Just a big point to note is that this is just the beta version, so the public version might be different. I doubt there would be any big changes to the layout or to their UI philosophy though.

Suggestions

I know that the target of Smartly is for individuals who are less savvy and are looking for a simple, all-in-one product. However, for more advanced investors, having the option to "customize" their own portfolio with the current available ETFs would be a very nice option.

This will allow people to use Smartly that will not follow the all-on-one risk portfolios. Perhaps this "feature" could be unlocked and more ETFs can be introduced. I think this would greatly increase their AUM.

I'm looking forward to see more of their non-core features, like the educational platform and also if they will introduce some sort of rewards or referral programme. The core of robo-advisors are essentially the same and what would set them apart from new players would be how well they can handle the non-core features.

Conclusion

I think that Smartly will be a pretty great success (when it finally launches). POSB Invest-Saver have done the hard of conditioning a lot of people to be much more comfortable with the idea of regularly contributing to an ETF and to hold a long-term view of their investments. Anyone who uses POSB Invest-Saver would definitely consider hopping onto the Smartly train for the larger geographical diversification and also the more flexible way to manage funds.

The user interface is clean and simple and I love that. I have used the word "simple" way too many times in this post, but that's really the best word to describe it. I would definitely use Smartly once they come out, however it would be used as a completely separate method to invest for retirement by going for the "international" strategy as opposed to a one-stop comprehensive solution for me.

From what I understand, Smartly is in the final stages and it is waiting for MAS approval to start their public launch. Hopefully when that day comes, I can be the one proudly telling you about it!

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