As the economy recovers, confidence in the investment market naturally grows. Yet, for the average consumer wanting to cultivate a nest egg, knowing where to put one’s money can be a prohibitive minefield. However, one Bristol company is aiming to blow the market wide open with affordable advice. We spoke to Chris Williams, Board Director of Wealth Horizon, to learn more.

TechSPARK: Tell us a bit about Wealth Horizon. How did it get started?

Chris Williams: Wealth Horizon officially launched in August 2014, however we had been talking about the idea for a while.

The concept initially grew from a realisation that traditional advice and investment management models were not serving the majority of people in this country. To put it simply, Wealth Horizon offers the answer to online financial advice for consumers, many of whom have been priced out of advice and investment management after the retail distribution review (RDR) forced advisers to switch from commission-based payments to fees from clients.

“We are driven by a desire to change the way people invest money”


We saw a gap in the market for a simple and easy-to-use service which would give clients the option of seeking additional advice online or to speak to an adviser, depending on the level of interaction required.

We are driven by a desire to change the way people invest money and want to inspire people to take action today.

TS: What are your long-term goals?

CW: Our long term goals are to completely change the way in which people look for and take up investment advice.

We have a very ambitious business plan; at the moment there’s a large number of lost and disenfranchised investors, but we aim to bridge the gap by providing an alternative that has the potential to revolutionise the industry.

Wealth Horizon: ‘Simple, accessible, affordable’

There is a need to make financial advice more accessible and, for most people, this is a journey that starts online. To date, nobody has been able to provide the full journey for a variety of reasons, including ensuring that the advice is regulatory compliant, but we have already cleared that hurdle. Wealth Horizon offers people a very simple model, providing as much or as little advice as they need.

TS:  How do you reach a decision about an individual’s investment potential?

CW: When our customers register on the site, they will be taken through a straightforward process which will assess their willingness and ability to take risks with their money (in a similar way to a traditional financial adviser) and will be assigned a risk profile.

“If it’s not right for a client to invest we won’t take their money”


We then tailor their investments so that it suits their risk profile. Our process is unique as it ensures that investments are suitable for them; if it’s not right for a client to invest we won’t take their money, thereby providing real peace of mind for clients that they’re pursuing the right course of action.

TS: How do you calculate the risk associated with an investment?

CW: The risk scale varies from one to ten, we allow clients to identify their own tolerance levels, but our risk scale will judge the level of appropriate risk for individual investors.

TS: What do you offer that investment advisers cannot?

CW: It’s more a case of unbundling the services that advisers provide. Complex, technical, and sophisticated advice is almost certainly better provided face to face. However, if an adviser is not adding any more value than constructing and overseeing portfolios and offering transactional advice, then we can offer it far more conveniently, speedily and at a much lower cost.

“Technology such as ours is opening up advice to a number of people who would otherwise be left in the dark”


Chris Williams: Forward-thinking financial adviser

As many investment advisers are increasingly dealing solely with those who have high investment potential, Wealth Horizon provides a service for people who still wish to invest but have been priced out of advice by the RDR.

The online aspect means that much of the admin burden, with its associated costs and workload, will be taken away from advisers, while the human advice element – where individuals can speak to an adviser on request – will be much more accessible and therefore easier to align with lifestyles.

Technology such as ours is opening up advice to a number of people who would otherwise be left in the dark. The costs associated with online advice are much lower than traditional advice, as we’re focusing on delivering services that the client specifically wants at that point.

Going forward, digital advice will be increasingly important, as will affordability. However, while the digital side will grow, we don’t think it will replace the need for human interaction with a qualified adviser – people will always need a qualified adviser to help them out from time to time.

TS: Are there any upper or lower limits to investments?

CW: Investment may not be appropriate for everyone and we will not invest people’s money if we don’t think it’s the right thing for them to do. Realistically, if you have limited funds, for example less than £1,000, it may not be a sensible option to invest it.

Modern Portfolio Theory: Minimising risks

TS: Is there anything you’ve learnt along the way that you wish you’d known when you started?

CW: With any new venture, you want to achieve everything straight away. I’ve learnt that prioritising, and delivering the core proposition is far more rewarding than trying to do everything and achieving nothing.

TS: What are the advantages of being based in Bristol, and what are your plans moving forwards?

CW: I grew up in Bristol and live with all my family here. Having worked in both London and Bristol, in my opinion Bristol offers a much better quality of life.

“Bristol is home to a lot of innovative and up-and-coming businesses”


Bristol is home to a number of established business but also a lot of innovative and up-and-coming businesses, which makes it an exciting place to be located. Most of our staff originate from Bristol and we plan on remaining here for the foreseeable future.

Many thanks to Chris for answering our questions. To learn more or to begin building your profile visit the Wealth Horizon website. You can also follow them on Twitter @WealthHorizonUK

Talking of potential investors, there’s only 8 days before applications close for South West startups to get involved with the Investor Showcase at VentureFest 2015.