50 Leading Companies of the Year 2018

An Interview with Asheesh Chanda, Kristal.AI Co-founder and CEO: ‘Our Motto is to Democratize Investments’


“We are pioneering the way individuals will start investing in international markets by providing access to 100+ exchanges across the globe.”

Traditional banking and finance have relied heavily on algorithms for automation and analysis. However, these were exclusive only to large and established institutions. Fintech nowadays is being aimed at empowering smaller organizations and consumers, and AI is expected to make its benefits accessible to a wider customer base. As we are entering into the big data era, with the sheer volume of data that humanity is generating and available, AI is undoubtedly making a major impact in Fintech now and in the near future.

In light of the above-mentioned scenario, we’re thrilled to present Kristal.AI.

The company is an AI-enabled Digital Asset Management Platform giving investors access to curated portfolios from the world’s top Portfolio Managers. Its proprietary algorithm helps choose the best investment strategies to meet financial goals.

Kristal.AI was incorporated in 2016 and is headquartered in Singapore(regulated by MAS with a CMS license). It has additional offices located in Hong Kong

(SFC - “Type 4” & “Type 9”) and India (SEBI - RIA).

Asheesh Chanda, Kristal.AI, Co-founder/CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Before I started the company I was working at Kris Capital. I had noticed that customers were facing problems which can broadly be categorized into three sections:

  • Retail clients do not get access to sophisticated portfolio strategies easily unless they have a huge corpus to invest
  • Lack of platforms and advisors who provide access to international markets. The big banks and brokerage houses are very expensive
  • Dependence on a financial advisor to create an investment plan who again charge exorbitant fees

Keeping these particular pain points in mind, Kristal.AI was founded not to compete with any other financial players, but to disrupt the financial services industry by delivering a Wealth Management platform not yet seen in the industry.

  • The portfolio strategies that we brand as Kristals are created by our proprietary algorithm, along with our team of financial analysts and the investment committee, which incorporates concepts of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to create intelligent portfolios. A minimum investment in a Kristal starts at USD 50 only thereby ensuring this platform is available to a wide variety of people
  • AI is the simplest and the most economical platform for people who want to diversify their holdings offshore. We are pioneering the way individual investors will start investing in international markets by providing access to 100+ exchanges across the globe. We have more than 150 strategies on the platform that invest in global markets and focused on specific themes like biotechnology, EV, FAANG etc
  • Kristal has developed a proprietary advisory algorithm which, based on several inputs by the user can create customized investment plans for every client. Artificial Intelligence helps us in transferring the work of a human advisor to a robo–advisor which makes each client an independent investor thereby empowering them

Q. How do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this highly volatile market?

When I started Kristal.AI I put a lot of thought into understanding how we can really create portfolios that outperform the index as well as peer portfolios. Our data science goes well beyond machine learning. We use a combination of classic investment-banking style quant (stochastic calculus, Monte Carlo simulations, dynamic programming, etc.), artificial intelligence heuristics such as genetic algorithms, methods from operations research such as bootstrapping as well as a small amount of supervised machine learning to deliver the best investment experience to our clients.

Moreover, we use plenty of inputs from classical and behavioural economics in order to understand an investor’s preferences and recommend portfolios. For example, we use Prospect Theory, which was first proposed in the 1970s by Daniel Kahneman (who won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in behavioural economics) and Amos Tversky.

It is this combination of concepts from economics, along with portfolio theory and data science that results in delivering the experience our investors deserve, even if the market is highly volatile.

Q. What are the factors that make your company stand out from the competition?

Some may compare us to traditional robo-advisors; however, we are not just another robo-advisor as we actively manage our clients’ portfolios, thereby combining the power of human emotion and understanding of financial needs with the efficiency of artificial intelligence. Some Kristals are simple passive ETF’s whereas others are heavily managed strategies including various instruments such as bonds, futures and options. What also sets us apart is our international offering to clients that covers the globe. Access to 100+ exchanges across the US, China, HK, SA and Europe makes us a complete solution for anyone looking to diversify. We are a one stop shop solution for people who want exposure to domestic and international markets. They do not need to look beyond Kristal.AI and that is what makes us lead the market.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

We are currently working on launching two new products:

Money Market Funds: It is an open-ended pooled account strategy proprietorially managed by Kristal.AI. This product is ideal for investors who are looking for high liquidity and stable returns for a short-term investment horizon perspective, with very low management fees. In this product, the investments are made into short-dated and highly rated USD government and corporate bonds.

Leveraged Bonds: Though this is also an open-ended pooled account strategy proprietorially managed by Kristal.AI, this product is ideal for investors who are looking for high returns from long-term investment horizon perspective. The investments are made in highly rated USD corporate and sovereign bonds.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We will be shortly moving to phase three of our algorithm build which includes additional changes

  • We have also recently opened our 4th office in Dubai and we are excited to penetrate this market. We have started our initial sales and communication effort and seeing significant interest from the audience. We will be developing portfolio strategies that cater to the investment needs of clients there
  • Last month, we graduated from the Sandbox programme and acquired a CMS license in Singapore. Earlier, we could only target the HNIs in Singapore and this license will help us reach a wider customer base. For this, we are also building the robo–advisor and adding some new features
  • In the coming year, we plan on getting a PMS license in addition to the RIA license we already hold in India so that we can take over execution for our clients and bring depth to our offerings