Sharesies is a game-changing provider that has democratised investing for young Kiwis. They’ve been amazingly successful. They’ve acquired a huge number of customers and have undoubtedly introduced many people to shares for the first time.

At the risk of coming across as an old fart, there are few areas of improvement. The reporting, for one, doesn’t show your asset allocation or market exposure, which is very important.  They also have a huge range of investment options, which may make it difficult for some new investors. Their investment menu is similar in size to some more sophisticated platforms that have been purpose-built for financial advisers.

I think they have some major opportunities to innovate. In my view, at top of the list are digital tools to help youngsters with portfolio construction. Providing access to investment opportunities is one thing. Giving your audience the confidence to actually use those opportunities is quite another.

Key features at a glance

  • Access to 165 investment options – 125 companies on the NZX, 8 managed funds and 32 ETFs
  • No minimums
  • Fees for NZX investing: % based on the amount purchased or sold (0.5%, for orders up to $3000, plus 0.1%  for amounts above $3000.01)
  • Fees for ETFs and managed funds vary according to the provider
  • Subscription fee: Under $50 free, $50 to $3000 = $1.5 per month, plus $3000 = $3.0 per month
  • Fractional investing
  • Kids account
  • Auto-invest

Strengths

-Their scale. They have over 76,000 customers with $125 million under management. Considering they started in 2016, that’s impressive. Their increasing scale will allow them to do more things to enhance the customer experiences they want to provide.

-They’re ground-breaking. They’re the first firm to have democratised investing into the NZX. They’ve allowed a forgotten and under-served generation to invest, which is not easy to achieve.

-Resources. Compared to Hatch, they have more resources, especially when it comes to developers. This is reflected in their product enhancements. They’ve released many new things in 2019.

-They can benefit from the bias towards New Zealand assets. Domestic investors can have a home country bias. Sharesies is well-positioned here. They can provide exposure directly to shares through managed funds or exchanged traded funds.

 –Simple to sign up.  It’s painless to sign up and invest – a very different experience to some other wealth managers.

Weaknesses/threats

-Use of the sorted risk profiling tool. For each risk profile, it’s assumed that all shares are interchangeable. For example, NZ shares have the same risk/return profile as global shares, emerging market shares or global listed real estate. This assumption is simply not realistic.

-With the reporting, you can’t see your asset allocation or market exposure. This is a drawback. The return and risk of a portfolio will be determined by your asset allocation or how you’ve spread your dough around NZ shares, global shares, property, bonds, cash and alternatives. It’s the most important decision you will ever make.

-The kiwi homie bro-lingo.  Chur. Bro. Tumeke. Deets. Wtf? Sorry, this doesn’t work for a 45-year-old self-confessed bogan with a love of Faith No More, applied finance and US politics. The bro-lingo makes me feel like I’m back at high school in the South (the South Wairarapa, that is) and on a mission to buy some weed from some nefarious-looking gentlemen with horrendous dental hygiene. To be blunt, at 45, I don’t think I’m the target audience of Sharesies. Peace out, dawg. I am not your G.

-They’ve got a huge number of choices. Sharesies has an investment menu that’s similar in size to some solutions that have been purpose-built for financial advisers like Colonial First State Wholesale Investments and AMP Flexible Lifetime Super in Australia. More choice isn’t always better, however. The more choices you have, the harder it can be to make a choice at all. This helps explain why some of the products designed for young DIY investors have a small menu – for example, Raiz, Spaceship or CommSec Pocket in Australia.  It only makes sense to provide lots of choices if you empower your audience on how to use those choices. That’s why you see the likes of TD Ameritrade or BlackRock place a lot of emphasis on investor education and content marketing.

Opportunities

-Develop a risk profiler to replace the sorted one.  Ideally, a new risk profiler should separate New Zealand shares and Global shares, given the differences in the two asset classes. This would add greater clarity when investors are using the range of investment options on their platform. 

-Enhance the reporting to show asset allocation. This would be useful, given how important asset allocation is versus stock or fund manager selection. It would also bring their reporting with KiwiSaver providers up to speed – a handy feature, should they ever decide to become one (and I think they will in time).

-A digital tool for portfolio construction. My suggestion is that they look at developing a tool that will show what the portfolio looks like for any mix of funds or shares – namely, by showing asset and sector exposures, geographic splits, range of past returns over 10 years and the probability of a negative return in any one year. The idea here is to help investors understand what they are investing in and what would happen if they were to invest into different combinations of investments. I think it would help them to learn about the basics of building a portfolio. It may also complement any blog content they do on investor basics. 

-Automatic portfolio rebalancing. Functionality that automatically resets your mix of funds and stocks back to the benchmarks would be helpful, and would work well with auto-invest. Automatic rebalancing would also mean that investors would have one less thing to worry about – something that would work well for ‘set and forget’ investors.

-New funds. They have a few gaps on the menu, especially when it comes to global listed property, global shares and global listed infrastructure. It would make sense to look at how those gaps could be filled. The proviso is that they empower investors to make use of the funds they can access at the moment.

The above is my opinion. It is not intended to act as personal financial advice. It does not take into you account your financial objectives, situation and needs. It is strongly recommended you seek financial advice from an Authorised Financial Adviser in making a decision to invest.