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JPMorgan Chase Powers Up Robo-Advisor for Fintech Race

The goal is to offer “guidance and advice for a broad range of clients, whether you have a few thousand dollars, or more."

By David Henry and Elizabeth Dilts

NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) is powering up a lower-cost computerized investment management tool this week and plans to offer the robo-adviser to some clients next March and on a wide scale in the middle of the year.

The company will file required disclosures on Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, bank officials told Reuters, so they could start testing the service this week with fewer than 100 employee accounts.

The goal is to offer “guidance and advice for a broad range of clients, whether you have a few thousand dollars, or more,” said Kelli Keough, head of digital wealth management.

The service, piloted as JPMorgan Digital Investing, is the latest in a raft of online investing tools called robo-advisers that firms offer as a low-cost way to get basic advice and automated portfolio management.

The services ask such questions as customer age, risk appetite and objectives, then suggest investments like diversified exchange-traded funds, which often are selected by an investment committee. Computers rebalance portfolios according to preset rules.

The robo-advisers are viewed as a low-cost way to attract individuals who do not yet have enough money to make individual personal management worthwhile.

Consulting firms estimate the services could be managing more than $10 trillion within several years. Financial companies including Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Wells Fargo (WFC.N) and Bank of America’s (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch, have followed fintech firms, such as Betterment, with the offerings.

Fees for basic services range from 25 to 50 basis points annually, or $2.50 to $5.00 per $1,000 invested, significantly less than the roughly 100-basis-point fees financial advisers charge.

JPMorgan plans to set its fees for the public by March, Keough said. It will also lower the $5,000 minimum investment being used during testing with employees. “We are exploring and testing a variety of different pricing mechanisms,” Keough said.

Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said last year the bank could offer the service free or as part of a package of products.

 JPMorgan is the biggest U.S. bank by assets, with upwards of 50 million customers holding consumer banking and credit card accounts.

The bank developed the service in-house with InvestCloud, a financial software firm that it hired and invested in last year to improve its online, mobile banking and investment offerings.

The investment in the automated service is part of a $300 million commitment by Dimon for better technology for asset management products, Keough said.

Reporting by David Henry and Elizabeth Dilts in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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