Charles Schwab launched its robo advisor service today, taking direct aim at newer, robo advisor competitors in the process.

"This is for the investor looking to invest with an established company," said Schwab executive vice president Naureen Hassan.

Hassan leads the team responsible for the automated investment product Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, an offering with no advisory or asset management fees, no commissions and no account fees.

Hassan said that the product takes the insights of Schwab investment advisory experts and applies them to algorithms that manage low-cost ETF portfolios, accessible to investors with even $5,000 to start.

Investors only need to answer a questionnaire, and their responses are computed to present a portfolio recommendation. Client portfolios are automatically rebalanced in response to the market, she added, in a call announcing the launch.

"It reduces a lot of friction when it comes to getting investment and advice," Hassan said. "It is an easier, more accessible and more transparent way to get investment advice."


Hassan took aim at competing online wealth management firms that have sprung up in recent years, including Betterment and Personal Capital.

"This is a combination of best in class technology with the backing of a firm that has been innovating for clients for 40 years, with $2 trillion in assets," she said.

She pointed out that Schwab's offering is "the only one of these automated advisory services with no fees," and that the product is intended for anyone to use, a knock on the industry perception that younger investors are shying away from established brands for digital services.

"We don’t view this as service for young people getting started," she said. "This is appropriate for a pretty wide range of investors … this isn't just for millennials."

Schwab's offering comes after CEO Walt Bettinger told an audience last November that there was "no way" online advisory firms would replace advisors who work directly with clients.

"What we’re doing in online advice ... is giving choices," he told attendees at the Schwab Impact Conference in Denver.

Schwab will also release a version for advisors in the second quarter, Hassan said.

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