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Why Crowdfunding may soon become a threat to the Private Banking industry

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Although there has been little acknowledgment from the wealth management industry, the rise in crowdfunding in recent years has been remarkable. Goldman Sachs sizes the addressable market for crowdfunding at about $1.2 trillion. This is the total market value for crowdfunding that could be realized in the long-term. For 2014, Goldman Sachs estimates the U.S. crowdfunding market size at $10 billion, up from just $1 billion in 2011. The Worldbank forecast that global crowdfunding could increase to between $500 billion and $1 trillion by the mid-Twenty Twenties. These numbers include marketplace lending (e.g. Lending Club), equity-based crowdfunding (e.g. Circle Up and OurCrowd) and donation-based crowdfundfing (e.g. Kickstarter).

But isn’t crowdfunding something invented by hipsters to collect a few thousand dollars for some crazy art project or an even crazier new invention that will not go anywhere? That was probably true in the very beginning of the crowdfunding trend, 10 or even 5 years ago. But nowadays crowdfunding has flourished into a multi-billion-dollar industry, quickly spreading across the globe. Even institutional money is now flowing into (specifically p2p/p2b) lending-based crowdfunding chasing for better returns than one can get on a typical fixed income security.

So crowdfunding is opening up not only to small retail investors but also to institutional and private wealth. Therefore, crowdfunding brings some threats to the wealth management industry. In a way it is another tool that disintermediates investing as robo-advice does in another context. Affluent individuals, HNWIs or potentially wealthy individuals are using more or less automated platforms to engage with investment targets in a much more direct fashion compared to investing through a typical wealth manager. The functional and emotional benefits of this type of investing may - over the long run - shift assets under management away from the traditional wealth management industry.

But where there are threats there are also opportunities…. We’ll explore the whole field of crowdfunding from the perspective of wealth managers and private banks in a shortly to be published new report. Stay tuned.