Evidently, many other companies smell an opportunity to serve retail investors online. Corporate Insight, a New York City-based consultancy, now tracks more than 50 investment-related online start-ups. “They’re spreading like wildfire,” says Grant Easterbrook, a senior research associate at Corporate Insight.
Easterbrook groups them into eight different categories that include algorithm-based investment advice, packaged portfolios, and online financial advisors and financial planning.
“I haven’t seen many examples of someone offering a full suite of advisory services online,” he says. Easterbrook notes that most of the start-ups he tracks offer low-cost solutions aimed at the mass market, or premium services where you talk to a rep over the phone.
“If this is the start of a trend of large, reputable RIAs creating online platforms with services for the mass affluent, then that would be a big deal,” Easterbrook says, adding he hadn’t yet seen a demo of how eSavant works.