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Franklin Templeton invests in robo-advisor

Franklin Templeton Investments has made a strategic investment in Bambu, a Singapore-based provider of core technology for robo-advisory platforms.

Franklin Templeton was one of three participants in Bambu’s second round of funding, which the startup completed on 30 August, according to an announcement. The other participants were the venture capital firm Wavemaker Partners and the fintech investor Robby Hilkowitz. 

Bambu intends to use the proceeds from the investment for research and development activities in Singapore and to expand its reach globally, the statement said.

Bambu, founded in February 2016 by Ned Phillips and Aki Ranin, does not offer a robo-advisory service to investors, but instead provides the technology to financial institutions that want to develop such a service.

Bambu’s clients include Crossbridge Capital’s robo-advisory service Connect, and Standard Chartered, which announced a proof-of-concept engagement with the startup in April. 

In 2016, Bambu was one of eight finalists in the Supercharger Fintech Accelerator 2.0 programme, sponsored by Standard Chartered and Fidelity International.

Robo and asset managers

It is unclear why Templeton invested in the startup. The firm was contacted by FSA but had no one available for comment.

In some cases, asset management firms may look for partnerships with robo-advisory firms as another distribution channel for their funds. However, a partnership with a core technology provider such as Bambu is a more indirect way of engagement in the digital wealth space.

“Our focus is not so much on the investment methodology, but on the digital wealth journey of the customer, from onboarding, through risk questionnaires to the actual transactional part,” Ned Phillips, Bambu’s founder and CEO, told FSA. 

Bambu offers an investment methodology as part of its platform, but its client institutions can implement the white-label solution using their own portfolios, he said.

Phillips would not comment directly on the reasons for Templeton’s investment. 

“If [our clients] are looking to use Franklin Templeton products, that would be a great outcome for both ourselves and Franklin,” Phillips said. “Our technology can host a range of different funds.”

Part of the Mark Allen Group.