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Technology

4 Apps to Bring Your Investing Into the Future

Each of these tools offers a different style to help manage your investments. See which one (or more) fits your needs.

Technology is becoming a staple in the majority of American households. A Pew Research study from 2013 says that 70% of Americans have broadband Internet connection in their homes.

What does that mean for you? It means that the capabilities of tech within households are reaching new heights—and that can help you get a different kind of investing experience.

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Below I've covered a few financial technology companies that have popped up over the last few years. Each of their four apps have completely different styles and can be incredibly useful for different types of personalities. A lot of people even use two or three of them simultaneously to reach their financial goals.

Take a look and see if any might fit your investing needs.

If you're a long-term investor looking for simplicity…

Betterment is what the financial industry is calling a "robo-advisor." Don't let the term confuse you; it is simply an asset allocator that helps you trade and rebalance your investments within your personal risk tolerance preference.

The best thing about Betterment is the price. While some investment managers are charging near 1% for their passive asset management, Betterment charges a tier of prices that starts at just 0.35% per year. Plus, there aren't any investable asset minimums like you may find with a reputable investment manager (sometimes as high as $1 million).

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One of my favorite features of Betterment is the "Smart Deposit" technology: You set how much money you want in your bank account at all times, and any excess will automatically be transferred into your investment portfolio. This ensures that you're always putting your extra money to work instead of letting too much sit in your emergency funds and checking accounts, earning little to no interest. It also allows you to use a different application of dollar-cost-averaging.

If you're looking to invest money "by accident…"

Acorns is an ingenious way to help younger generations get started with investing. It uses the same kind of technology to automate your investing as Betterment. While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles, it does have a really handy feature that I'll call "round-up."

The "round-up" feature takes any purchase that you make on your linked accounts and rounds it up to the nearest dollar, depositing the difference into your Acorns account. Once your account has a balance of $5, Acorns invests the money into a portfolio that is consistent with your investment time horizon and your investing goals.

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Recently Acorns has announced another feature called "Found Money", which allows companies to invest in your account. Instead of getting cash back from their approved partners, the companies contribute money towards your Acorns account. This is a great way to grow your invested assets without making an effort, and plays up the idea of investing money "by accident."

If you're looking to make investing fun…

Kapitall is the brainchild of a few people, one of which was a veteran of the gaming industry. Take a quick tour of the website, and you will quickly notice how they have "gamified" the investment process. Making it not only easy to invest and learn about investing, but to also enjoy learning and investing.

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One aspect of the gamifying process is you can take "Quests" that have an educational component. You earn Koins, badges and points that you can use make extra purchases. Another option is to compete in the "Master's Tournament," in which users compete for real dollars using a virtual investment account.

If you're looking to invest based on your beliefs…

Motif is a great service for investors who are concerned with socially responsible investing (SRI), but it is also amazing for people who want to invest in a sector (or a special group of stocks). A motif is a basket of stocks (with one to 30 stocks per basket) that you can trade in and out of. The best part about building and investing in a motif is that you are charged $10 for each buy and sell action within your "basket," meaning you could, for example, trade 30 stocks for just $10.

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Another great feature is the ability for motif creators to make money off of their basket ideas. With this so-dubbed "Creator Royalty Program," if someone uses or buys your motif, you are paid a royalty for helping another user invest wisely. Have a knack for trading your own investment account? This could be where you put it to the test and also use the social networking features to interact with friends and colleagues across the Motif platform.

A new service called Motif Blue has recently been announced. Motif Blue is a subscription-based service that will allow access to features such as commission-free trading, automated investing and real-time quotes on stocks. It's definitely worth looking into if you're looking to participate in a lot of trading of motifs and planning to also utilize automation in your investments.

Stephen is the founder of Ignite Financial, a financial planning firm focused on serving millennials, young professionals and tech-savvy households. He is a member of the XY Planning Network.

About the Author

Stephen Alred, Financial Planner

Founder, Ignite Financial

Stephen Alred is the founder of Ignite Financial, a financial planning firm focused on serving millennials and young professionals. He created Ignite after working in wealth management and realizing that there was a huge under-served market, even for those with high incomes. Ignite does away with high upfront planning fees, as well as income, asset and net-worth minimums, the biggest barriers to entry for receiving fee-only financial advice.

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