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Robo-adviser Syfe gets US$18.6m led by Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures

Robo-adviser Syfe gets US$18.6m led by Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures

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3 -min read
Listen to this article

DIGITAL wealth manager Syfe has closed an US$18.6 million Series A funding round led by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures, which previously backed Xero, TransferWise and German neobank N26.

Syfe's funding round also drew an investment from Presight Capital, a venture capital firm founded by Christian Angermayer, a German financier and serial entrepreneur who has co-invested with and has got backing from Mr Thiel.

Existing backer Unbound, a UK-based investment firm that led Syfe's S$5.2 million seed round in July 2019, returned as an investor in the latest capital raise. Unbound was founded by Shravin Bharti Mittal, the son of Bharti Enterprises billionaire Sunil Mittal.

Other existing investors of Singapore-based Syfe include David Rogers, the former managing director of State Street Global Advisors; Paul Redbourn, the former managing director and head of equities at UBS Japan; and Philipp Freise, partner at KKR.

The fresh funds raised will be used to enter new markets, develop new products and services, hire top talent and enhance Syfe's technology platform.

Andrew McCormack, founding partner of Valar Ventures, said: "The potential of Asia as a region - with a fast-growing number of mass-affluent consumers aiming to grow their wealth - combined with the pedigree of the team and strong traction makes Syfe a very compelling opportunity."

The startup was founded in 2017 by Dhruv Arora, who formerly led UBS's Asia-Pacific exchange traded funds (ETF) distribution efforts. Before founding Syfe, he was vice-president of product and growth at Grofers, an Indian online grocery delivery service backed by SoftBank and Sequoia.

Syfe is in advanced talks with regulators in three Asia-Pacific markets and expects to expand within the next 18 months, Mr Arora, the company's chief executive, told The Business Times.

Since the start of 2020, the number of users on the platform and the assets under management have increased by 10 times, he said.

Syfe launched in July 2019. The company plays in the same field as robo-advisers such as StashAway and Endowus, which have gained popularity for leveraging automation to offer investment services at lower annual fees.

Syfe charges a 0.4 to 0.65 per cent annual management fee, with no minimum investment amount and lock-in period.

It currently offers three investment portfolios: a global diversified portfolio with a blend of equity, bonds and gold ETFs, tailored based on an individual's risk appetite; a Reit (real estate investment trust) portfolio based on the SGX iEdge S-Reit Leaders Index for passive income generation; and an all-equity global portfolio with ETFs that encompass more than 1,500 companies globally.

Syfe also offers access to a team of human financial advisers. It currently employs seven licensed advisers on a full-time basis.

Mr Arora said the company has 35 full-time employees and plans to double this figure in the next 12 months.

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