New York-based BlackRock Inc. entered the robo-advisor business on Wednesday with the announcement that it has entered into an agreement to purchase San Francisco-based FutureAdvisor.
FutureAdvisor will operate as a business within BlackRock Solutions, an investment and risk-management platform, after the deal’s expected close in the fourth quarter of 2015. Financial services institutions — including banks, insurers and brokers dealers — will be able to access FutureAdvisor’s digital platform as a means of building client loyalty and growing assets, BlackRock says in a news release.
“As demand for digital wealth management grows, we believe that our combined offering will accelerate our partner firms’ ability to serve the mass affluent in a convenient, scalable way,” said Tom Fortin, head of retail technology for BlackRock, in a statement.
FutureAdvisor is a digital wealth-management firm capable of managing and monitoring clients’ brokerage, individual retirement accounts and 401(K) accounts while also providing tax-efficient portfolio management, mobile and web applications, online account enrollment and multi-custodian support. Both companies see these capabilities as complementing BlackRock’s investment and risk management platform.
“BlackRock has dedicated enormous effort over the years to improving financial outcomes through its leading active and passive investment offerings as well as innovative retirement planning tools,” says Bo Lu, CEO and co-founder of FutureAdvisor, in a statement. “We look forward to integrating and delivering this expertise to investors in partnership with financial institutions in the months to come.”
At the moment, BlackRock’s plans for the automated-advisory platform are focused solely on the U.S. market, according to a spokesman, but the investment-management firm will look to see how the platform can be used in its operations throughout the Americas and internationally over time.
In addition to BlackRock iShares products, FutureAdvisor will continue to offer a variety of exchange-traded funds as part of its portfolio construction.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
BlackRock offers risk management, advisory, and investment management services to institutional and retail clients. As of June 30, 2015, BlackRock had US$4.721 trillion in assets under management and roughly 12,400 employees in more than 30 countries.