RBS Launches First Investment Robo-Advisor in the U.K. through NatWest Invests

EXCLUSIVE- Royal Bank of Scotland becomes the first bank in the U.K. to go live with an investment robo-advisor under its NatWest Bank brand, RBS said in a release today.

Starting today, the digital service is available to NatWest Bank’s five million customers through NatWest Invests‘ platform online.

Since the tool is geared towards “customers who want fast, low cost advice on investing their spare income and savings,” according to the announcement, the minimum amount is a reasonable amount of £500 ($663) at once or £50 ($66.31) per month in a range of five diversified funds varying in risk levels from low risk to high risks.

There is no minimum investment term. However, it is recommended that users maintain their investments for at least five years.

While there is no fee to receive advice, should the customer decide to take the advice and make the investment, then they will be charged £10 ($13.2). There are no other fees associated, the bank said. In the case that there are no investing opportunities suitable for a customer, then the robo-advisor will recommend investing alternatives with no charge.

Once an investment is made, users can track the performance of these funds by linking it to the financial goals section on their digital banking page.

The NatWest advisor provides each user with a tailored recommendation online by asking the user a series of questions related to their financial situation, goals, and attitude towards risks. After this assessment, the robo-advisor gives the user suggestions on how much they should invest, what funds are most suitable to their situation, and how they should use their Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance.

The service is fully regulated advice, which means that an investor can file a complaint with Financial Ombudsman Service, if the advice rings wrong.

Phil Northey, managing director of premier banking, said in a statement emailed to Bank Innovation by the RBS Media Relations department:

At NatWest we are very focused on meeting our customers’ needs and it is clear that too many of our customers are not able to get the investment advice they need. Their expectations are also changing. They are increasingly choosing to bank with us digitally. We have responded by launching an online investment advice service. This will help our customers to get on in their lives and to achieve their financial goals. We’re proud to be the only UK bank offering such a service to our customers.

The bank first unveiled plans of this service earlier this year in February.

This indeed falls in line with the Royal Bank of Scotland’s plan to embrace digital banking. The bank currently has an innovation forum, through which it reviews an average of 1,000 fintech companies a year with the goal to apply their technologies to RBS’ banking service. Since its establishment in 2016, the forum has pushed over 50 projects through its pipeline, Kevin Hanley, director of innovation at the bank had previously told Bank Innovation. (More on this here).

And on a somber note, in the name of digital banking (and cutting costs), RBS also said earlier this year that it plans to lay off 800 employees jobs by 2020, limiting its focus on the U.K. and Ireland.

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