BlackRock Sells Direct-to-Consumer Robo-Advisory Business to Ritholtz

BlackRock is selling FutureAdvisor’s direct-to-consumer advice and investment business after acquiring the firm in 2015 as a business-to-business platform for advisers.

BlackRock Inc. is shedding the direct-to-consumer business of its FutureAdvisor division in a sale to Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC, a registered investment adviser and retirement planning firm with $2.7 billion in assets, according to the companies.

Ritholtz will take over FutureAdvisor’s direct-to-consumer robo-business, continuing to provide advisers with technology-enabled advice and investing capabilities, the company said in a statement. The firm, which also offers retirement investments for employers and employees, did not disclose terms of the deal. 

“Ritholtz expects that FutureAdvisor clients will seamlessly transition to Ritholtz, where they’ll receive access to dedicated goals-based financial planning and cutting-edge technology,” a company statement said. “Ritholtz advisors and support staff are looking forward to helping them achieve success in all aspects of their financial lives.”

BlackRock acquired FutureAdvisor in 2015 with a business-to-business focus to meet demand for “digital wealth management” for financial advisers serving high-net-worth clients. In 2016, FutureAdvisor partnered with U.S. Bank Wealth Management to offer automated investing and advice to individual investors using U.S. Bancorp Investments.

“We are proud of having served FutureAdvisor clients over the last eight years and are confident that Ritholtz, a national, multi-billion-dollar wealth management firm, has the ability to meet the demands of clients seeking digital solutions for their investing needs,” BlackRock wrote in a statement. “BlackRock will continue to serve wealth management firms with our Aladdin Wealth technology offerings.”

The direct-to-consumer robo-advisory model has come under pressure due to tight fees on relatively smaller accounts, with robo-advisory Blooom shutting down late last year. Morgan Stanley bought up the firm’s technology and brought on some of its top leaders, the New York-based firm said at the time.