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Goldman Sachs, T. Rowe Price latest to hit robo advisor scene

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Investment bank giant Goldman Sachs is looking for a digital experience developer to join a team "building an automated digital advice platform."

The firm has not commented on its robo advisor plans or the role, but the job listing on its website caught the attention of wire services.

It's no secret the bank has been developing outreach to less wealthy segments of investors for some time now.

After announcing plans to offer retail lending to the mass affluent market, Goldman Sachs entered the small- and medium-sized online retirement plan space last March through its acquisition of a startup called Honest Dollar.

"It makes sense to me that Goldman would [launch a robo]," says Celent analyst Will Trout. "Remember, they bought Honest Dollar. You can't go more downmarket than that!"

The Wall Street powerhouse also has interests in Kensho, a global analytics and knowledge platform for investment professionals, and Motif Investing, an online brokerage firm.

Goldman's job listing interestingly garnered more attention than the launch of other robo advice platforms.

T. Rowe Price last week unveiled its robo advisor platform, Rowe Price ActivePlus Portfolios, which provides access to actively managed mutual funds and asset allocation expertise, with no additional advisory fee.

The new program is first available for IRAs. Investors with a minimum of $50,000 will receive a recommended portfolio after answering a short questionnaire to assess risk tolerance, time horizon and investment goals. Each model portfolio will consist of eight to 13 of T. Rowe Price’s actively managed mutual funds.

Although a digital offering, clients will have phone access to licensed client managers solely assisting investors using the robo platform.

The announcement came a day after Charles Schwab’s launch of its hybrid robo advisory service, Schwab Intelligent Advisory.

Another robo launch comes from Los Angeles-based InvestCloud. It announced Emerald, a digital advice platform for advisors seeking a hybrid model.

One reason why the Goldman robo job ad attracted attention: the potential for a digital offering from a white shoe brand to create waves in the mass affluent market, says Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research.

"I wouldn't want to be for example LPL competing with Goldman," Sokolin says. "I guess the advantage of the downmarket players is they have cheaper human resources and a local footprint."

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