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Citi Self Invest Opens New Avenues For Advisors

Citi is adding a no-fee, self-directed brokerage option to complement the robo it launched last year.

Citi is adding to its stable of digital advice and investing products with the launch of a self-directing investing option called Citi Self Invest. The no-cost self-directed platform allows investors to trade equities and ETFs with no fees and no asset minimums to open and maintain an account. Mutual funds and other non-equity and non-ETF investments will be added “in the coming months,” according to the announcement, as the bank seeks to compete with other brokerages, as well as provide new inroads to potential clients for financial advisors at the bank.

Digital trading platform Self Invest is app-based and available via the Citi Mobile App. “Citi Self Invest is one more way that we’re delivering a complete spectrum of investment experiences, ranging from award-winning banking services to industry-leading advice from our financial advisors,” said David Poole, head of Citi’s U.S. Consumer Wealth Management division, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to include Citi Self Invest as part of our commitment to providing our clients with the products and services needed to achieve their financial goals.”

The tool is built on infrastructure that was originally created for the firm’s financial advisors, according to a Citi spokesperson. Similarly to Citi's robo advisor, Wealth Builder, Self Invest custodies assets with Pershing. However, where Wealth Builder relies on Jemstep, a part of Invesco’s intelliflo, for trading, Self Invest is not utilizing that third party.

Self Invest investors will be able to turn to Wealth Builder or Citi financial advisors all on the same platform, however, said the spokesperson. Self Invest users can choose if they would like to engage with a financial advisor, with appointments available in-person at a branch, or via phone or videochat.

Self Invest is the latest wealth management-focused offering from Citi, which introduced Wealth Builder, last year. Citi also provides digital wealth planning features and private client services. According to the firm, with the new tools, it seeks to better connect its wealth management capabilities across its banking and institutional clientele, an initiative that sparked the debut of Citi Global Wealth earlier this year.

“The launch of a self-directed brokerage account at Citi is part of a larger trend of companies rounding out digital advice offerings with self-directed brokerage accounts or those that offer self-directed brokerage services launching a robo offering,” said David Goldstone, manager of research and analytics at Backend Benchmarking. He drew comparisons to JPMorgan, which launched a direct-to-consumer investing product called Self-Directed Investing (formerly You Invest) in 2018, noting that banks are rushing to provide new brokerage options for clients.

Citi and others are trying to capitalize on the surge of interest in investing, especially amongst younger demographics,” Goldstone added. “The expansion of no-commission trading and the recent popularity of so-called meme-stocks have all driven increased interest in trading and investing.”

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