Robo-advisors have surged in popularity as people seek low-cost, automated investment opportunities. Within minutes, robo-advisors allow you to set up a customized, diverse portfolio and can give you access to wealth management services previously reserved for the ultra-wealthy like tax-loss harvesting and access to a certified financial planner. For these reasons and more, robo-advisors are increasingly attracting attention from investors. In fact, according to the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, assets under management by robo-advisors will grow by 68% annually to a whopping 2.2 trillion in the next five years.
There’s a growing selection of robo-advisors as new firms enter the market and veteran robo-advisors increase their offerings, so how do you filter through all the brokerages to find the best robo-advisor? In truth, the best robo-advisor will differ from investor to investor, dependent on their respective financial situation and needs. However, the top-rated robo-advisors share common features: a low initial investment, low fees, and comprehensive portfolio management features. For this list, robo-advisors earned top points for low fees, low minimum account balances and strong portfolio management features. Note: this list is in alphabetical order. All data is as of March, 2017.
Betterment LLC is one of the robo-advisor behemoths. With $7.356 billion in assets under management it is the biggest robo-advisor, and in July 2016 it became the first robo-advisor to pass the $5 billion assets under management mark. Betterment takes a passive approach to investing and trades through the Apex Clearing Corporation, like its main competitor Wealthfront.
So why have so many investors chosen Betterment? The service may be particularly appealing to new investors as it has no minimum account balance. It also offers top-tier portfolio management services. Betterment employs automated tax-loss harvesting, and the company advertises that “You can potentially keep an additional 2.9% of your investor returns each year by using Betterment,” because of the brokerage’s passive investing approaching and rebalancing and tax-efficient techniques.
Betterment offers a mix of low-fee stock and bond index funds. Based on a risk questionnaire Betterment will provide you with a customized, diverse portfolio.
Betterment charges a 0.25% annual fee for its standard plan. Betterment’s premium plans are pricier and have account minimums but offer clients access to Betterment’s team of financial planners. The minimum account balance for the premium plans range from $100,000 to $250,000 and the annual fees for premium plans range from 0.40% to 0.50%. There are no additional transaction fees with Betterment except the low expense ratio fees charged by the fund companies. The ETF management fees range from 0.09% to 0.17%.
In addition to calls with financial advisors, Betterment offers retirement planning and a variety of account types such as IRA and trust accounts.
2. Personal Capital
Personal Capital is an all-in-one online financial platform that provides a suite of free financial planning tools, in addition to access to a human, financial advisor. The robo-advisor allows clients to connect their existing banking accounts to the platform to track their spending and retirement savings and their portfolio’s performance. The robo-advisor follows the modern portfolio theory investing approach to determine your portfolio’s optimal asset class mix and maximize your portfolio’s return. Its portfolios have a weighted income expense average of 0.09%. The brokerage also employs tax loss harvesting and rebalancing.
The fees for this robo-advisor are higher than others mentioned on this list, ranging from 0.49-0.89% annually. While its fees are comparatively high, Personal Capital earns points for its wealth of financial planning tools and its dedicated team of financial advisors. Personal Capital offers three different accounts: its ‘investment service’ for those who have up to $200,000 in investable assets and two premium services: the ‘Wealth Management’ plan for those with $200,000- $1,000,000 in…