Australian comparison firm eyes UK robo advice

By Moriah Costa on Thursday 23 February 2017

Savings and Investment is the latest company to move to UK, as the government looks to attract cross border fintech companies.

Australian-based personal finance comparison site is moving into the UK market, just weeks after Britain announced it was sending a fintech delegation to Australia and New Zealand.

The firm has applied for approval from the Financial Conduct Authority to provide price comparisons and financial advice for various products such as mortgages, credit cards, pensions, and ISAs.

The site in Australia responds to questions posted to the site by users, emails, live chat and phone calls. Users can filter and compare financial products, including robo advice. CEO Jon Ostler said while the sector has potential, they would not expand into the space in the near future.

“At the rate that the technology and interest is progressing, there is definitely potential for us to explore it at, although we are not looking to get into it in the immediate future,” he said.

The company currently offers comparisons on money transfers, internet TV and online shopping sites in the UK as it waits for FCA approval.

In the wake of Brexit, the UK government has been trying to attract fintech companies from countries like Australia and Canada, while promoting British firms overseas. UK companies like Ratesetter and ThinCats have already established branches in Australia.

Most recently the FCA and Canada’s financial regulator, Ontario Securities Commission, agreed to promote and support fintech companies in both countries. The two regulators will share information on trends and issues in the sector.

In early February the British Department of International Trade said it would send a delegation to promote UK fintech in the area. Chancellor Philip Hammond also announced in the Autumn Statement a £500,000 a year investment in “fintech specialists” through the department.

While the industry is worth an estimated £20bn in the UK, fintech investment has declined largely due to uncertainty regarding Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Funding for U.S. companies fell to $12.8bn compared to $27 bn in 2015, according to a report from KPMG. Funding also fell in the UK, from $957m in 2015 to $609m in 2016.

Despite the decrease in funding, Ostler sees a lot of potential in the industry.

“As the United Kingdom is our fourth country to launch across the globe, we are very excited about what’s in store for the future of financial advice,” he said. 

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Financial Conduct Authority