Betterment’s Mobile App Gets the Human Touch

Betterment users will now be able to seek advice from the world’s largest independent financial robo-advisers through the company’s mobile app.

Today, the New York-based Betterment added a new messaging feature to their mobile app. This feature allows users to get specialized financial advice from licensed experts.

Experts can offer advice on subjects like portfolio investment, helping users set goals like saving for a house or retirement, or weighing in on choosing risk level.

All responses will come from human licensed experts. None will be automatically generated. The move suggests that Betterment, which was initially built around the idea of robo-advisers, has been consistently trying to expand its offering of human advisory services. Back in January, Betterment added two new plans that offered users advice from human financial advisers. Through Betterment Plus, users receive an annual call offering advice on the their financial planning, while through Betterment Premium, the user has unlimited access to human financial advisers

“This feature is an example of our priority to continuously expand customization and personalization of our products to meet the needs of our very diverse customer base,” Joe Ziemer, vice president of communications & policy for Betterment told Bank Innovation.

This new chat feature is available to all Betterment users at no additional cost and regardless of their selected plan and account balance.

The announcement of this feature comes only days after Betterment received $70 million in series E funding and iterated its intention to channel these funds into launching new products and features over the course of this year.

The money was raised as an extension of a fund established in March 2016, and led by Swedish investment company Kinnevik AB.

When asked what’s in store for Betterment given this additional funding, Ziemer said the company’s focus would remain on growing organically by adding those new products and features to the existing model, as well as ramping up the company’s marketing efforts.

One such example, Ziemer explained, is Betterment’s new socially responsible investing (SRI) portfolio option.

“We learnt that many of our customers were interested in having an SRI option,” Ziemer said. “So we personalized our offering to include SRI within the restraints of the available options that don’t  sacrifice diversification.  So far this feature has been received well.”

What Betterment is not using the extra funding for is international expansion, at least not for the next two or three years, according to Ziemer.

Betterment, which was founded in 2008, currently serves more than 280,000 customers and manages close to $10 billion in assets.

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