Chase launches digital investment solution to compete with robo-advisers

JPMorgan Chase has rolled out a digital investment product that will help grow its relationships with the 60 million-plus U.S. households it counts as customers.

You Invest Portfolios, which launched this week, is a mix of J.P. Morgan ETFs that balance risk and returns based on customer preferences. It’s aimed at digitally active customers who can use Chase’s website and app to set up their portfolios and manage them. According to Chase, differentiators include the ability to talk to humans at Chase branches and a transparent fee of 35 basis points, with all other associated fees waived. Customers must put down a minimum of $2,500.

You Invest Portfolios builds on You Invest Trade, a digital brokerage product that Chase launched last August. “What we found with You Invest Trade is that most of the customers who have opened accounts are some of our most digitally active customers across the Chase platform,” said Jed Laskowitz, CEO of You Invest at JPMorgan Chase. While You Invest Trade customers typically have some investing experience, You Invest Portfolios aims to reach customers who have another banking relationship with Chase and who are relatively new to investing, he explained.

Jed Laskowitz, CEO of You Invest

Chase wants to tap into a customer base that would consider You Invest Portfolios in part due to the ease of setting an account up and managing it through the bank’s app. Among customers who opened accounts on You Invest Trade, the bank found that 90 percent of them had never invested with Chase before. It’s evidence of an untapped opportunity for the bank to grow You Invest customer acquisition among its existing group of customers.

“With You Invest Portfolios, we’re really focused on customers who could be starters of any age,” Laskowitz said. “We’ve created content that helps support those types of investors in our learning and insights portal.”

After answering a questionnaire about risk tolerance, clients are placed in one of four model portfolios. Despite the self-service nature of the product, customers can seek additional help from Chase staff members at bank branches.

Chase joins other large banks that are competing with digital-only robo-advisers through added services and the active involvement of humans. It’s similar to Bank of America‘s approach to its recently launched human-digital financial advisory product. “We’re using technology to scale the delivery of our expertise, but our portfolios are very much managed and constructed by people,” Laskowitz noted.

JPMorgan Chase’s foray into managed digital investment advisory services is an important event for the industry, noted Alios Pirker, research director at Aite Group. “It’s a big event in the evolution of the robo space because of the size of JPMorgan Chase – it has a massive credit card portfolio, it has mortgages as well and it can reach a broad spectrum of consumers.”