After receiving relevant licences from Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission in February, Singapore-headquartered Stashaway has launched its digital advisory platform in Hong Kong earlier this month.
Like most digital offerings, Stashaway’s mobile app enables users to invest in portfolios that are either based on their risk profiles or goals.
“You can either invest based on your risk level and we make sure the risks of your portfolio stays constant at any situation, or you can choose the goal-based investing option, which is our take on personalisation,” Stephanie Leung, Stashaway’s director and country manager for Hong Kong, told our sister publication Fund Selector Asia.
Leung joined Stashaway in the middle of last year to start building the team in Hong Kong. Currently, the team has grown to seven, mostly focusing on marketing and business development.
Stashaway makes use of US-listed ETFs, which the firm believes offers the best total expense ratio (TER) and liquidity for its customers.
“It also provides us with different choices of asset classes,” Leung said, adding that the platform has at least 30 ETFs to choose from.
Most digital or robo-advisers mostly target retail investors, as asset allocation or advisory services previously were only made available to institutions or high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).
Stashaway also aims to liberalise advisory services in the region. While its focus is on the retail market, it also has plans for targeting HNWIs, according to Leung.
“We have coverage for high-net-worth clients, and we already have wealth advisers dedicated to the Hong Kong market,” Leung said, but did not elaborate on how many wealth advisers the firm has hired.
“For the HNW segment, we offer things that are beyond the standard offering, because our wealth advisers can have more in-depth discussions about the markets and asset allocation recommendations,” she said.
Another digital advisory platform, Kristal AI, has also targeted “emerging HNWIs” through its “private wealth” account.
Kristal AI, which operates in Hong Kong and Singapore, believes that not all wealthy individuals have access to wealth management services by private banks. An investor may have $1m in liquid assets, but not $5-$10m (£7.2m, €8.4m) to meet the minimum threshold for a wealth management account.
Stashaway’s Leung noted that while the firm’s platform has dedicated advisers for HNWIs, retail clients also have access to human interaction.
“For all our clients, they have access to our customer support team seven days a week. It is our pledge to make sure that clients, even though they are not HNW, get human interaction when needed,” she said.
“That is why we try to stay away from the word ‘robo’ because we are not entirely robo. What we are offering is an interface to manage your wealth and at the same time having human support when needed.
“Of course, we try to make our app as easy to use as possible, so people don’t have to call customer service all the time. Ultimately, the goal is to make everything efficient.”
Stashaway has grown in size, especially since the firm has expanded into several markets.
It first launched in Singapore in 2017 and expanded into Malaysia in 2018 and the Dubai International Financial Centre in 2019.
“When I joined Stashaway last year, we only had 40-50 people, now we are 160,” Leung said.
AUM has also grown to at least $1bn in assets, she noted.
The firm has been preparing for its launch in Thailand, where Stashaway is “growing aggressively”, she added.