Otivo looks to Silicon Valley for product hire

otivo digital advice super funds financial advice

29 April 2024
| By Laura Dew |
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Financial advice platform Otivo has made an experienced appointment from the US as its head of product strategy. 

Joanna Lawson was previously the manager of product services at Wealthfront, a digital financial adviser and automated investment service based in San Francisco. Since launching in 2008, the firm has US$60 billion ($91 billion) in assets under management and 800,000 clients.

In her role, she was involved in the launch of the firm’s investment products and stock investing platform, including its range of socially responsible investments.

Returning to Australia, she will be working with Otivo around proposals in the Quality of Advice Review last year for superannuation funds to provide advice to their members. The firm said 85 per cent of its users are turning to the platform for superannuation advice.

The decision to push for super funds to provide advice has received a mixed response from the industry, but Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones, has stood by it and called for super funds to “step up” their actions in the space.  

Paul Feeney, Otivo CEO, said: “We’re seeing unprecedented demand for comprehensive and accessible online financial advice. There are simply not enough advisers to meet the scale of advice, so the solution needs to be digital.

“With the announcement late last year from the government and the desire for super funds to help their members in a meaningful way, we’re seeing an ever-growing increase in demand from not only super funds but Australians to find quality, accessible financial advice that can be offered at scale.

“We’ve heavily invested in our team and product to keep up with this demand and are excited to have Joanna on board who has an impressive resume in digital advice platforms in the US.”

Lawson added: “With over 670,000 Australians retiring over the next five years, the role of super funds in providing quality, comprehensive personal financial advice to their members has never been more important. Being a registered financial adviser, I understand the pain points members are facing when it comes to personalised advice that is accessible and also comprehensive.”

Last September, the firm hired Catherine Mulholland as head of key accounts who joined from a role as manager of mergers and acquisitions at IOOF and previously at MLC Australia.

Mulholland holds over 30 years’ experience working with financial advisers and corporate superannuation clients.

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