California-based Heron Financial, a registered investment advisorbuilt on blockchain technology, launched this month to provide accredited investors easy access to private credit assets.

Heron is a robo-advisor that focuses exclusively on the growing private credit space, explained co-founder Mike Sall.

“We think it’s going to be particularly compelling to the retail investors who have been oozing confidence in the stock market and have been looking for alternative investment opportunities,” he said. “They haven’t had access to that space in the past, but we think that we’re about to hit a tipping point where a lot more folks are going to be thinking about it and want to participate in it given the value of it.”

Since the regulations surrounding credit changed in 2008 after the financial crises, many banks pulled out of the credit space, allowing private companies to fill the void. That, coupled with higher interest rates, have made private credit an attractive asset class, according to Sall.

Traditionally, access to the private credit space has been limited to high net-worth individuals with large minimum investment requirements and multiple-year lockups that institutional investors can handle. Technology is changing the game.

To participate in Heron’s platform, a user needs to be an accredited investor, otherwise, $100 provides access to Heron's services. Clients will not need to actively manage their portfolios or have any professional experience in private credits as the robo-advsior handles all the heavy lifting, according to Blake West, another co-founder of Heron.

“The platform will recommend a strategy to them,” he said. “From there, they choose the money, and the platform can help them build a portfolio that automatically rebalances over time when that portfolio is filled with a number of different private credit opportunities.”

There is a credit team that evaluates all the private credit arrangements to ensure their quality and that they have a good track record, Sall said. The investments will pay monthly interest, which an investor can then turn around and reinvest back into the portfolio, if they wish, according to the firm.

Since the platform is in its early stages, the portfolios are customized around two strategies: standard and aggressive, according to West. The firm expects to offer more options over time, he added. 

Heron is built on a blockchain infrastructure. Its founders identified three main advantages of the blockchain system. The first is reduced transfer costs as transferring any amount of money anywhere around the world on blockchain can cost a fraction of what it will cost using other methods, the firm said. The second is enhanced transparency as every transaction is fully public on blockchain. Finally, it offers greater interoperability.

“By layering financial products on top of an interoperable, blockchain-based platform, many different companies can spring up to operate on the same underlying platform, thus fostering more competition, and ultimately creating more value for the user,” the firm said on its website.

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