I will share here my actual experience as the DBS Digiportfolio was very complicated even if you read all of their documentation (which I did). You will not understand what are the underlying products unless you actually invest and check in their website which products they bought for you. Hopefully, this write up will make future investors make more meaningful decisions regarding this product.
You need to go through a test to assess your suitability to invest. Pretty straightforward and simpler compared to other tests done by competitors. After passing the test, you select which portfolio you prefer. You can also adjust the risk level of your investment with more/less exposure to equities based on your situation and preference. You need to have one of the multi-currency accounts which you can create online if you don’t have it. The portfolio was created quite fast for me (about one working day).
They have 4 choices of portfolio which will be very confusing for beginners. The documentation about these are very top level with no explanation on what are the actual underlying instruments. The choices are:
1. Unit trust based Global Portfolio
2. Unit trust based Global Portfolio Plus
3. ETF based Asia Portfolio
4. ETF based Global Portfolio
Note that you need a Wealth management account for the Unit trust based portfolios (1 and 2). These were the first portfolios they created but as they are unit trusts, their expense ratios should be more than ETF’s. That is probably why they created the ETF based portfolios. It should also be noted that (3) uses Singapore based ETF and (4) uses UK listed ETF’s which have better tax rates compared to US based instruments. Something to consider when deciding.
You can only create your portfolio and get detailed information about your portfolio from the DBS website. This can be quite annoying as they have had these products for more than a year so you would think they will be integrated into their mobile app by now. You will be able to see your total balance and top up from the mobile app but that’s it. No performance charts (not even in the website) and investment breakdowns can only be seen in the website.
Because of the complicated options, no info about underlying instruments in website prior to signing up, lack of performance charts and no mobile app, I have to say the user experience was not very good. If you have never invested in other robo advisers before and have no interest in what instruments DBS is going to buy/has bought for you, then this may not be a big deal for you. If you are like me and want to know what it is DBS is going to invest in, BEFORE deciding to put in your money, and if you want to see how each instrument is performing, this can be very disconcerting.
To help you, I will share what I saw was bought for me in the Investment Method section of this review
You need to call the main DBS line to get information. Other (albeit smaller) robo advisors have dedicated hotlines and email addresses where their staff respond to you almost instantaneously. It feels as if DBS is reluctant to go into this area as the margins are very small but they are still going into it (half-heartedly) so they are not left behind.
I went for the ETF Global portfolio as I felt that had the best upside opportunity with low expense ratio as the ETF’s are UK based. The instruments are mostly similar to other robo advisers giving exposure to global equities (e.g. US S&P 500, Europe, Pacific Rim), and bonds (US Treasury and Global corporate). What I find that is different is they also invest directly in Japan and China instruments. The full list of instruments that I saw in my portfolio are:
iShares Core S&P 500 UCITS ETF USD Dist
HSBC MSCI AC FAR EAST EX JAPAN UCITS ETF
Xtrackers MSCI Europe UCITS ETF
Vanguard FTSE Japan UCITS ETF
iShares MSCI China A UCITS ETF
iShares Core Global Aggregate Bond UCITS ETF
iShares J.P. Morgan USD EM Bond UCITS ETF
iShares Global Corp Bond UCITS ETF
Immediately upon funding, portfolio value went down due to USD conversion loss and market conditions. About a month later after US elections and virus vaccine news, returns have been very positive. In fact, if I compare the returns to other robo advisors, it’s rate has been the highest probably because of the direct investment in China and Japan which brought extra upside (but may also bring extra downside if things go bad in the world).
In summary, would I recommend DBS Digi-portfolio? I guess yes because of the good returns BUT you must do your research and know what you are getting into. It’s charges at 0.75% is higher than some robo advisors but is not the highest. Based on returns I’ve seen, these will be negligible as long as you are in it for the long term (minimum 5 years). Take note also that unlike other robo advisors, you will not have any performance or historical charts of your investment so you need to keep track of this yourself unfortunately unless DBS improves their reporting.
If you do decide to go for it, I suggest going for the ETF Global portfolio. The unit trust portfolios will have hidden/additional charges and the Asia portfolio is a bit of a gamble for me. Hope this helps.