Aviva succumbs to allure of robo-advice with Wealthify purchase

Aviva succumbs to allure of robo-advice with Wealthify purchase

UK insurer Aviva has acquired a majority stake in a startup robo-adviser for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase goes some way to fulfilling a promise made earlier this year by chief executive Mark Wilson who said: "We want to turn Aviva into a fintech."

Wealthify launched in Cardiff just over a year ago and raised more than £1m through a crowdfunding campaign shortly after based on a valuation of £9.7m.

The robo-advisor, which offers retail investors access to a number of savings and investment plans for as little as £1, will be integrated into Aviva's online portal MyAviva, alongside other digital products.

The service is "remarkably easy to use" according to Blair Turnbull, managing director of Aviva UK Digital, and is aimed at both traditional cash savers looking to diversify as well as the lucrative millennial market who "appreciate an effortless and straightforward digital experience". 

Turnbull also said that Aviva will continue to support Wealthify's technology development and growth plans.

But while the acquisition would seem to support Aviva's fintech ambitions and the promise of more acquisitions, the Financial Times has reminded its readers of comments made by Aviva executives just last year that "real" robo-advisors had yet to emerge.

The comments were attributed to Aviva’s head of retirement solutions policy, John Lawson who told UK news service Citywire that while "the seeds of real robo-advice are beginning to appear", the time when these seeds would come to fruition was "still some way off". 

The Wealthify deal alongside the chief executive's comments back in May 2017 would appear to suggest a revision of the timeline in which robo-advisors might score some success. Nor is Aviva alone in its pursuit of fintech targets. Just under a year ago German insurer Allianz invested in robo-adviser Moneyfarm and just this week Legal & General invested £40m in lending startup SalaryFinance. 

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