Robo-Advisors are artificially intelligent (A.I.), virtual financial advisors. By using software operated by algorithms, they are able to automate financial planning. Therefore, much less human interaction is needed. Robo-Advisory services that conform to shariah laws and principles are termed ‘Shariah-compliant R.A.”, ‘Halal R.A.’ or ‘Islamic R.A.’.
Shariah law regards community wellbeing as very important and is thus firmly focused on this concept. One of the objectives of shariah law is to assist those who are placed at a disadvantage. Creating benefit and alleviation of hardship are thus honorable intentions that can be encouraged through robo-advisory.
In her article titled, “Robo-advice in Islamic finance”, Maria Todorof explains that fintech, within the boundaries of shariah law, can be especially applicable for young Muslim millennials residing in the West. This particular market has difficulties gaining access to shariah-compliant financial services. Therefore, one of the leading fintech areas, and the most appropriate to their needs, is that of robo advice.
The robo advisory (R.A.) market
As long as there is a gap in the market for robo-advisors, they will have a great potential to serve investors with financial advice.
In a survey by KPMG, it was estimated that 75% of the respondents across various generations, income, and gender, were fascinated by R.A. services. The United States may be leading the way. According to Deloitte and Avaloq, some forecasts show that by 2025, assets managed by robo-advisors will be between 1% and 1.5% with a much stronger interest of 40% amongst the U.S millennial population.
As stated similarly by Todorof, robo advice is mainly appealing to millennials who usually match their target description of being less financially knowledgeable, having a lower net worth, and preferring to use time-saving technologies to handle their finances. Therefore, as also stated by KPMG, robo-investing often draws less-wealthy investors because of the low-minimum and low-cost portfolios available.
Much of the initial interest in robo-advisors comes from the “mass-affluent” market segment, which has usually been underserved. Sarah Clarricoats from Ernst and Young comments in a video interview, “Comparatively, face-to-face advice is expensive. And it’s actually at a price point that the mass market and mass affluent are unwilling to pay for. So, that means robo-advisors are incredibly viable because there’s a market out there that isn’t being serviced at the moment. And this provides them with an opportunity to gain access to financial advice.”
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From the perspective of the consumer, there are many trends driving the growth of digital advice:
1. Better transparency into investment options
2. Increased ease of access through low or no minimums and fees
3. Improved customer experience via web and mobile apps
4. The use of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to create diversified portfolios.
Human financial advisors will have more opportunities to enhance the efficiency, cost, and effectiveness of their wealth management offerings, as new technologies progress. Ernst and Young propose that by 2025, there is possibly an enormous opportunity, particularly for human advisors that are personally ready with strong automation skills such as analytics and digital tools.
The market for shariah-compliant R.A.
Aghaz Investments, a Seattle-based online investment adviser (robo-advisor), allows individuals to easily invest and save for their goals while adhering to their religious beliefs.
Shariah-compliant R.A has the potential of becoming the way that future generations invest their money. With more than 2 billion Muslims across the globe and approximate market size of US$1.8 trillion in total assets under Islamic finance, R.A is a section of the market that cannot be overlooked.
In the United States, Muslims are a geographically diverse but prosperous population which means they can be hard to reach via conventional branch networks but have an interest in robo-advisers.
In order to fill the gap for Muslims and consumers with strong morals living in the West, Aghaz Investments, an online investment adviser (robo-advisor) established in Seattle, allows consumers to effortlessly invest and save for their objectives in a way that is compatible with their religious beliefs.
Initially, Aghaz is focusing on Muslim consumers in the United States, but it will soon provide custom-value goods for anybody interested in investing based on their particular beliefs, such as climate change or equal rights.
Aghaz Investments adheres to Islamic principles, and has adopted DriveWealth’s portfolio management system to serve its clients. With the rise of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing, values-based investing has achieved popularity that has never been seen before. While Islamic finance has been on the increase for some time, the topic may see a resurgence in interest from brokers throughout the world, who are increasingly seeing value-based investment as a lucrative business venture
In the example of Aghaz, users enter their financial objectives and obtain optimal portfolios that are consistent with their religious beliefs. This will automatically exclude ETFs that deal with the use of alcohol.
Related: Halal Stocks vs Halal Mutual Funds
DriveWealth’s portfolio management technology, Autopilot, will be used by Aghaz, which will allow customers to create personalised portfolios depending on their specific goals, such as saving for Hajj or Umrah, or purchasing a home or vehicle.
“Autopilot gives our partners the ability to customize the investing experience based on their customers’ investing goals and preferences and rebalance automatically. Aghaz Investments presents consumers with a unique opportunity to reach their financial goals in a way that is personal to them without compromising their values.” said Bob Cortright, founder and CEO of DriveWealth. “At Aghaz, we are passionate about understanding Muslims’ relationship with money and enabling them to save for their financial goals according to their beliefs.
DriveWealth provides a robust and comprehensive API platform that Aghaz leveraged to launch goal-based investment strategies for our customers in a secure and effective manner,” said Khurram Agha, Founder and CEO of Aghaz Investments.
Robo-advisory is one of the primary fintech sectors that has been identified as being best suited to the demands of Muslim millennials living in the west.
This is precisely the market that is most susceptible to being lost to conventional financial services and provides an opportunity for investors who lack large amounts of money. It is thus an opportunity to gain access to financial advice and receive services similar to a professionally managed investment portfolio.