Employers and employees 'open to robo-investing'

Both employers and employees are open to using robo-investing to support savings and investments, according to new research from Smarterly.

The online savings platform surveyed 1,248 employees and 508 HR professionals in UK businesses.

More than two-thirds (71.2 per cent) of employees would use robo-investing if their employer introduced it, while even more (80.9 per cent) of 18-35 year-olds would use it. Interest from the over-55s was more muted at 52 per cent, but this group is generally well-catered for with pensions provision.

On the other hand, nearly half (43.5 per cent) of employers said it would be easier for employees to invest if they had robo-investing, while 35.4 per cent agreed their organisation would benefit from offering employees robo-investing.

Automated alternatives to help close the so-called 'advice gap' cited by the regulator in recent years - where many feel they cannot afford face-to-face advice on investments and pensions - have taken off, with the likes of Wealthfront and Betterment in the US making mass-market plays.

In the UK, startups like Nutmeg and evestor have gained ground, prompting banking like HSBC and Santander to launch similar services. However, other early plays have already shut up shop, citing a lack of demand.

Steve Watson, head of proposition at Smarterly, said: “Employers have understandable concerns about regulation, so being able to support employees with savings and investments without getting personally involved helps them with employee engagement.”

He explained that robo-investing uses computer algorithms to build investment portfolios, with platforms providing choice and clearly outlined options, “enabling employees to make informed decisions, so the employer is enabling support, but from a distance”.

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