Aspiration is an investing company that proposes a new way of investing: take what's good from Wall Street, give it to Main Street investors and pray it pays.
Nutmeg is the first "alternative way of building your portfolio" I've seen. A few years ago, when the solution was launched, I don't remember how I found it, but I've been following it's development ever since.
The principle is simple: get the users everything they get when they have a managed portfolio, but only by taking care of simple steps: investment goal, time horizon, expected return, etc. The rest is left to the company. Not very different from what a bank can do right? Except it's incredibly cheaper (3 times cheaper than private banks for example) and incredibly transparent.
Maybe I'll write something about portfolio management techniques some other day, but to summarise it: what Nutmeg does is not very different than what some banks do in that field. The interface with the investor though is really great. You feel you're in command.
Some people call it advanced advisory, some others, portfolio management. Who cares? The definitions dispute is interesting for old-school bankers only. The key point here is that there's a shift in the "balance of power" between private investors and their bankers. The former are wanting more empowerment, the latter are frightened about that... This is probably the greatest trend affecting the world of private banking in the years to come.
Is that the hidden side of Skynet? Just kidding... More and more solutions are blooming around the idea that investments through a portfolio ca be done without a bank. Or a banker.
Here's one that proposes an interesting idea: " Save Your Round-ups - Invest from everyday purchases by rounding up each amount to the next dollar automatically or on-demand." (quoting the site). Of course, to do that you have to be mobile. Well, this solution is mobile only.
The rest (investing) is pretty simple: Modern Portfolio Theory (good old Markowitz), automatic rebalancing, etc. I'm saying simple because coming from finance, well, it's pretty mainstream. Now, doing it every time you go shopping for groceries directly from your phone, that's really interesting.
The founders got a nice article/interview from Wired in August 2014:
Worth following what happens with this initiative.