Banks and cheap hotels have more in common than one might think, noted Wealthfront’s founder and Chief Strategy Officer Dan Carroll in a recent blog post. Banks are an antiquated “paycheck motel,” he argued, as client-banker relationships go the way of the dinosaurs for clients under 40 years old. An estimate by Carroll puts the number of retail banking customers who are up-for-grabs at 50 million in the U.S. alone.
The dump on banks comes despite Wealthfront partnering with banks like Citibank, HSBC Bank USA and Wells Fargo Bank, which support the Wealthfront Cash Account service. Meanwhile, the robo advisor is slowly improving its so-called “self-driving money,” a financial service that seeks to “automate” investors’ finances “in the near future” by allocating income between bills and various investment and savings funds.
“Your bank app doesn’t integrate with your other finances,” noted Carroll. Banks provide “unintelligent” apps with a “user experience [that] isn’t up to par with modern consumer expectations.” A J.D. Power survey from earlier this year found that many wealth management apps aren't faring much better, although Wealthfront's app was not among those that were evaluated.
Carroll also hinted at a forthcoming credit offering that Wealthfront plans to roll out for investors "in the near future." The process sans paperwork would provide investors with the terms and qualification status of a mortgage, “as easy as ordering shampoo on Amazon.” By the end of 2030, Wealthfront said it expects to reduce the amount of time clients spend on their finances from 150 hours a year to less than 40.