RobustWealth, a Lambertville-based digital wealth platform that’s already helping manage about $700 million, last week announced that it is teaming up with Apex Clearing to offer low-cost trading.
Founded by Council Rock grad Mike Kerins, RobustWealth is solidly in growth mode, and now employs more than 25 — largely from New Hope and Lambertville, and mostly engineers and coders. Employees are proud that their open-concept office is located in the basement below a yoga studio, costs $8 per square foot to rent, and is within walking distance of most of their homes.
RobustWealth is a private-label wealth management platform for advisors that provides fairly sophisticated portfolio construction tools, automated trading, billing capability, and asset allocation, along with a client portal. Advisors can private-label the robo-advisor to their clients or just streamline their existing business.
RobustWealth says their product offers “robo advice” with a stack of technology that eliminates the need for advisors to hire a hodge-podge of vendors.
In fact, said a spokesperson, “The platform eliminates/solves for the Frankenstack of technology, and offers it in one package.”
Digital “robo-advisor” platforms allow automated, algorithm-driven financial planning services, often gathering financial information and goals through an online survey, then offering advice and automatic investment.
Robo-advisors have been around for nearly a decade, with the introduction of Betterment in 2008. While portfolio allocation software was not new, it had been only available to professionals, so consumers had to hire a financial advisor to use it.
Today’s robo-advisors deliver the service straight to clients, offering a low-cost alternative to the traditional financial advisor. Robo-advisors typically charge an annual fee of 0.2% to 0.5% of one’s total account balance, compared to 1% or 2% charged by human financial planners.
Many even predicted that robo-advisors would render flesh-and-blood financial planners obsolete, but that never played out.
“Once consumers hit their first tax or estate issue, they place a call to their advisor,” said a longtime wealth management advisor with Northwestern Mutual.
Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services jumped on the robo-advisor market by partnering with Betterment Institutional to provide its platform to advisors who custody client assets with Fidelity. And Schwab markets a robo-advisor for individuals, and recently rolled out a service for advisors who custody client accounts at Schwab.
RobustWealth believes it’s built a better mousetrap.
“We’re a low-cost provider, we’re investment-agnostic, and our dashboard offers 18 key features,” observed a spokesperson.
The firm’s founder and CEO Mike Kerins has impressive investment credentials. Before RobustWealth, he spent eight years at Franklin Templeton, where he managed an investment team overseeing a global portfolio of $40 billion.
“I founded the company in Lambertville because I live in Lambertville and grew up around the area,” Kerins explained. “I love the people, love the town, and traded my two-hour commute to New York City for a walk down the block. Many of our employees also live in or around the area. We bring lunch into the office daily, always from local New Hope or Lambertville restaurants (especially More Than Q BBQ), and joke that we run on Rojo’s coffee.”
“The community offers a lot to us, including a beautiful backdrop for paddle boarding down the canal,” continued Kerins. “So, we actively try to give back where we can. As a team, we often donate our time and resources to local charities and events. The Delaware River Valley is an awesome place to run a business, and we are so happy the community has welcomed us with open arms.”
Fortunately for this Lambertville tech company, the financial community seems to be welcoming their investment platform with open arms, too.
My technology company can take this one down. Also located in Lambertville we own the streets and the night. T-birds rule.