It’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to robo advisors in the US. The United States has been a hotbed for financial innovation for generations, and the past decade’s explosion of new robo advisors in the US proves that this era is by no means over.
We’ll take a look at some of the most prominent robo advisors in the US to help you decide where your money will be best managed. There are too many robo advisors in the US for this to be an exhaustive guide, but we’ll try to cover the cream of the crop!
If you know anything about robo advisors in the US, you know Betterment. Betterment is so well known it is practically equivalent with “robo advisor USA”, and we believe the reputation is not undeserved. Betterment removes many of the barriers to entry for new robo advisor users. They have no minimum account balance and charge a flat 0.25% fee for any account size. Premium advisor options can be had for 0.40%.
Betterment users frequently find that the cost of the service (for taxable accounts) is more than paid for with tax-loss harvesting savings, applied automatically for all accounts. Betterment’s highly diversified and affordable portfolios of ETFs and affordable funds from Vanguard. User portfolios are spread across many international holdings, creating a portfolio that can stand up to market turbulence, but one which also won’t hit the heights of individual market bull runs. All in all - a trusted and effective robo advisor.
Wealthfront and Betterment are names often spoken in the same breath. The two services have become the two most prominent robo advisors in the US, and they have done this by narrowing in on a formula that works.
Like Betterment, Wealthfront creates portfolios based upon cheap, highly diversified ETFs. They too charge 0.25% and require no minimum balance. However, they don’t offer the premium advisor services of Betterment, but they do offer free management of accounts with less than $10,000 deposited. Their interface is just as intuitive and useful as Betterment’s. New users will just have to decide which sub features are more beneficial for their unique situations.
Wealthsimple is one of a new crop of robo advisors in US who are offering “Socially Responsible Investing”. SRI is an option that appeals to people who want to invest for the future, but without supporting businesses that are socially or environmentally irresponsible. Much like Motif, Wealthsimple uses a short questionnaire and algorithms to pair their users with ETFs that contain ethical companies. Wealthsimple uses only 6 ETFs, but this may still be more than enough diversification for the average user. The annual cost is 0.40-0.50%.
WideBanyon distinguishes itself from the robo advisors in the US crowd by being *almost* free. The fundamental service itself costs nothing. User money is distributed to funds at no cost, but the expense ratio of each fund must still be paid. There’s no getting around this point, as users would have to pay this price even if they assembled these portfolios themselves. WiseBanyon does increase to 0.25% per month ($20 tops) if you would like to activate tax-loss harvesting. For taxable accounts, this feature can more than pay for itself and may indeed result in less cost overall than the free version + expense ratios. Tax-sheltered accounts will derive no benefit from tax-loss harvesting as taxes paid are not related to capital gains.
Charles Schwab’s robo advisor service is an added value to their customers. They provide it for free, with portfolios composed of Charles Schwab products in 20 different asset classes. For taxable accounts funded with more than $50,000, tax-loss harvesting services are added for no additional charge. This deal is good enough that it may attract new Charles Schwab customers, which we are sure is the intention of the company.
Vanguard Personal Advisory Services
Vanguard’s personal advisory services stands out from the crowd in a couple of ways. For one, this is not a true robo advisor. By funding the minimum $50,000 deposit and paying the 0.30% fees, the user will get a personal advisor, with whom they will work each time they have questions about their account. This gives the user the opportunity to really understand the wide array of Vanguard funds available (a challenge for solo investors without dozens of hours of time on their hands), in order to compose a portfolio that perfectly meets their needs without any confusion. This is a win-win for Vanguard, as it’s just another way to promote their dirt-cheap funds, while offering real value to new and existing customers.
Most people know Personal Capital as an interface within which to view all of one’s own financial accounts. This service is great, but for customers willing to actually deposit $200,000 or more into Personal Capital, the service will distribute these funds into securities that meet the user’s needs. Fees range from 0.49%-0.89% depending on services chosen. Personal Capital makes available certain tax reduction services and strategies which, the service claims, can increase annual returns by 1% (thus more than paying for the service). Obviously, with the $200k account minimum, Personal Capital’s robo advisor service is not for the average new investor, but it does offer unique service to those for whom it is designed.
America remains a hotbed of financial and investment innovation. With the advent of robo advisor services during the past decade, efficient and affordable investment has been made available to people who would otherwise not have access to it. You don’t need to have much knowledge about investment at all to take advantage of sensible investment benefits for retirement and future goals. That’s why so many different robo advisors in the US are thriving. Take a look at the ones we’ve recommended and perhaps dig into some of the smaller competition nipping at their heels. Whatever you choose, you’ll no doubt land on a great service that’ll help you enormously in your future financial goals.