FA-Mag Feature: Using Better Risk Analysis To Fight Robos

After an early career in risk management and asset allocation roles, Min Zhang, the 32-year-old co-founder of Los Angeles-based Totum Wealth, realized that designing portfolios simply based on clients’ age and income was insufficient for their needs.

“Most people my age have no interest in dealing with a human being if they can just use their age and income as parameters to build a generic portfolio,” Zhang says.

That’s why robo-advisors have grown in popularity, but clients are going to find that age and income are often not enough to build an adequate portflio, Zhang says. “There are other factors … that create other dimensions to risk tolerance, and most people aren’t considering them,” she says.

In response, Zhang started building the Totum wealth management platform. Released Thursday, the software analyzes factors like geography, industry of employment, health, family, balance sheet and progress toward retirement in client investment proposals.

“We’re giving advisors a tool of institutional-quality analytics and with more interactivity that will allow them to answer clients’ questions,” Zhang says. “The key elements are customization and on-demand analytics. Clients already use this in their daily lives — if they want to go to a restaurant, they use Yelp. If they want to find a job or hire someone, they look at LinkedIn. Financial technology is way behind in terms of user experience and sophistication.”

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