The Fintech Effect

Aviva buys majority stake in ‘straightforward’ robo investment start-up aimed at millennials

Key Points
  • Aviva bought a majority stake in "robo" investment start-up Wealthify
  • The insurer customers would be able to access the platform via its app MyAviva
  • Wealthify customers are able to invest with as little as £1 ($1.32)
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Insurance giant Aviva has bought a majority stake in a British start-up that manages diversified investment plans.

The insurer said Thursday it would allow customers to access "robo" investment firm Wealthify's services via its app MyAviva.

Based in Cardiff, Wales, Wealthify is targeted at millennials and offers five different investment plans via tax-free Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and general investment accounts. Customers are able to invest with as little as £1 ($1.32).

"Wealthify aims to take the complexity out of investing. It is remarkably easy to use, with no complicated jargon, no expensive fees, and you can start investing with as little as £1 ($1.32)," Blair Turnbull, managing director at Aviva U.K. Digital, said in a statement Thursday.

"It is particularly aimed at traditional cash savers, who are seeking to diversify their investments, and also at millennials who appreciate an effortless and straightforward digital experience."

Aviva did not disclose the value of the majority stake but said it would be looking to build its customer loyalty. The transaction will be subject to approval by the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) watchdog.

'Clear shift' in financial services towards fintech

A number of big firms have been making headway into the "robo-advice" market.

Wealth Wizard: Trained robots could provide best money advice

Several companies, including U.S. investment management behemoth BlackRock and U.K. insurer LV= (Liverpool Victoria), have invested in digital platforms that offer investment advice and management with the help of computer algorithms to automate and simplify asset and wealth management.

"Aviva's investment in our business reflects a clear shift in market demand for high-quality, technology-enabled financial services solutions like Wealthify," Richard Theo, co-founder and chief executive of Wealthify, said in the announcement Thursday.

"With the backing of such an established and trusted consumer finance brand, we feel ever more confident in our mission to bring the benefits of investing to mass-market savers and encourage them to embrace our service as a hassle free way to invest."

Wealthify's boss added that Aviva's majority shareholding in the firm would enable it to accelerate its growth and technology.

He said: "The capital investment from Aviva will be used primarily to accelerate our ambitious growth plans as well as develop our technology to enhance the proposition. We will remain focused on simplicity, affordability and transparency, and strive to make investing accessible to everyone."