14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You?
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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You?

Illustration by Otto Steiniger

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Robo advice is ready when and where you want it. Just grab your smartphone, tablet or laptop and click your way through a few questions about your goals, your tolerance for risk and your time horizon. In minutes, the algorithm kicks out a recommendation for a diversified portfolio designed by professional investors that’s appropriate for you, typically filled with exchange-traded funds

But before you decide to move your money or roll over an IRA to a robo firm, there are some caveats. For starters, opening an account at these outfits typically requires that you sell your existing holdings. Also, these are advisory accounts, not brokerage accounts. That means, in most cases, you must stick with the recommended portfolio. And there are fees to consider, though they’re generally low.

But there is, or will be, a robo for almost every investor. We’ve sorted through 14 of the best offerings to help you find the one for you.

SEE ALSO: The 20 Best ETFs to Buy for a Prosperous 2020

Advisers are listed alphabetically. Annual fee is based on percentage of assets unless otherwise noted. 3-year annualized return is a metric developed by Backend Benchmarking. See more details about their methodology here.

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 2 of 15

Acorns

Illustration by Otto Steiniger

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Best for: Investors just starting out

Annual fee: $12/year

Minimum to invest: $0

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.11%*

3-year annualized return: 6.01%

Acorns makes it easy for you to get saving. You just link your credit card or debit card to an account, and any purchases you make will be rounded up to the next dollar. The spare change automatically moves to your account and is invested in a port­folio of ETFs that is appropriate for you. And Acorns is cheap at $1 a month for a taxable account, or $2 a month for an IRA account called Acorns Later.

*Median expense ratio.

SEE ALSO: The Best Impact Investing Apps

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 3 of 15

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios

Illustration by Otto Steiniger

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Best for: Conservative investors

Annual fee: None

Minimum to invest: $100

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.07%

3-year annualized return: N/A

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios is an inexpensive offering, but the program’s allocation is conservatively positioned, with a hefty 30% cash position for all zero-fee robo portfolios. If you want to be fully invested, Ally has a product that charges 0.30% of assets per year.

SEE ALSO: Contrarian Funds: Charting Their Own Path

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 4 of 15

Axos Invest

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Best for: Investors just starting out

Annual fee: None

Minimum to invest: $0

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.10%

3-year annualized return: 7.61%

Formerly known as WiseBanyan, Axos Invest has appeal for investors with small balances and a strong three-year track record.

SEE ALSO: Good Funds in Bad Markets

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 5 of 15

Betterment Digital

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Best for: Investors just starting out, retired investors making withdrawals, conservative investors, investors who want to talk to an actual person, investors who want to bank and invest in one place

Annual fee: 0.25%

Minimum to invest: $0

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.09%

3-year annualized return: 6.66%

One of the pioneers of robo investing, Betterment has diversified its approach to offer extras such as custom guidance on buying a home or saving for college. Other features include a high-yield cash account for customers.

SEE ALSO: 20 Best Retirement Stocks to Buy in 2020

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 6 of 15

Blooom

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Best for: Savers who want 401(k) help

Annual fee: Starts at $40/year

Minimum to invest: N/A

Type of holdings: Mutual funds

Average portfolio expense ratio: *

3-year annualized return N/A

Blooom (yes, that’s spelled correctly) can take the reins of your 401(k) account and manage it for you. It connects to your employer-sponsored retirement account—403(b)s and federal Thrift Savings Plans are eligible, too—and builds a well-diversified portfolio of the lowest-cost funds available in your plan. Over time, it monitors, rebalances and shifts your holdings to an appropriate mix of stocks and bonds as you near retirement.

One risk: Blooom’s algorithm focuses on the lowest-cost funds, which means it may overlook some standout actively managed funds your plan might offer.

*Depends on the underlying holdings

SEE ALSO: Here Come the Zero-Fee ETFs

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 7 of 15

E*Trade Core Portfolios

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Annual fee: 0.30%

Minimum to invest: $500

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.07%

3-year annualized return: 7.00%

At E*Trade Core Portfolios a robust lineup of portfolios includes outside-the-box ETFs and socially conscious investing strategies.

SEE ALSO: Estate Taxes Could Hit the Not-So-Wealthy

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 8 of 15

Fidelity Go

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Best for: Investors just starting out, investors who want to talk to an actual person (minimum and fees vary for this service)

Annual fee: 0.35%

Minimum to invest: $0

Type of holdings: Mutual funds

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.00%

3-year annualized return: 7.61%

Robos at the mutual-fund giant Fidelity will invest your Fidelity Go money in their zero-fee mutual funds, keeping the portfolio expense ratio to, well, zero. You will pay an annual percentage fee for the service, though.

SEE ALSO: Fidelity Debuts No-Fee Mutual Funds

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 9 of 15

Merrill Guided Investing

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Best for: Retired investors making withdrawals

Annual fee: 0.45%

Minimum to invest: $5,000

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.08%

3-year annualized return: N/A

Merrill Guided Investing is worth a look if you bank at Bank of America (it offers a break on the rather high annual fee). If you subscribe to the “buckets” approach to managing your money, the sign-up process at Merrill might sound familiar, as it allows you to work toward multiple goals with different time horizons. You’ll have to set up different accounts to do so, as each goal will be assigned a separate portfolio, depending on how close you are to your goal and other factors. But you’ll be able to see all of your accounts on a single dashboard at Merrill Edge.

SEE ALSO: How to Cut Your Investment Fees in Half

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 10 of 15

Personal Capital

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Best for: Retired investors making withdrawals, investors who want to talk to an actual person

Annual fee: 0.89% for first $1 million

Minimum to invest: $100,000

Type of holdings: Stocks, ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.08%

3-year annualized return: 6.11%

Most robos are focused on accumulating wealth; Personal Capital expects you to have it. But, for retired investors who can bring the $100,000-plus needed to open an account, this robo offers help with sorting out required minimum distributions from tax-advantaged accounts. It can set up paycheck-like withdrawals from your IRA to your bank account and withhold federal and state income taxes, too. Personal Capital also gets extra credit for its Smart Withdrawal tool. It allows customers to explore how different withdrawals from tax-advantaged and taxable accounts might affect their assets over time.

SEE ALSO: Need Financial Advice? How to Choose Between Robo and Human Help

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 11 of 15

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

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Best for: Investors who want to talk to an actual person (minimum and fees vary for this service)

Annual fee: None

Minimum to invest: $5,000

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.14%

3-year annualized return: 6.23%

Another zero-fee contender, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios may be pinching returns with the high cash balances it holds. Schwab also offers a hybrid robo service called Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium that includes access to a licensed broker or a certified financial planner.

SEE ALSO: Schwab Is Bullish on 0% Commissions

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 12 of 15

SoFi Invest

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Best for: Retired investors making withdrawals

Annual fee: None

Minimum to invest: $0

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.18%*

3-year annualized return: N/A

No fee, no minimum and great cash access are the hallmarks of SoFi Invest. Their package includes ATM withdrawals, a debit card, check-writing and a 1.6% yield on a cash management account, called SoFi Money, that is connected to its robo product.

*Median expense ratio.

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 13 of 15

T. Rowe Price ActivePlus Portfolios

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Best for: Retired investors making withdrawals

Annual fee: None

Minimum to invest: $50,000

Type of holdings: Active mutual funds

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.67%

3-year annualized return: N/A

What distinguishes T. Rowe Price ActivePlus Portfolios is right there in the title: access to some outstanding T. Rowe Price fund managers and their actively managed funds. But, it’s reserved for retirement accounts and those who can bring $50,000 to invest. Retirees can arrange one-time distributions from the IRA through the service, and the firm says a feature that allows regular automated withdrawals is coming.

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 14 of 15

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

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Best for: Investors who want to talk to an actual person

Annual fee: 0.30% for first $5 million

Minimum to invest: $50,000

Type of holdings: Index funds and ETFs*

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.08%

3-year annualized return: 7.04%

Vanguard’s funds and ETFs ensure low costs, but the minimum is high. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services operates as a “hybrid” service that combines automated investing advice with a human touch. That’s part of what you’re getting for that 0.30% management fee. Look for Vanguard to introduce a digital-only service in the future.

*Clients can hold non-Vanguard investments in some cases.

SEE ALSO: Need Financial Advice? How to Choose Between Robo and Human Help

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14 Robo Advisers: Which Is the Best for You? | Slide 15 of 15

Wealthfront

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Best for: Investors who want to bank and invest all in one place

Annual fee: 0.25%

Minimum to invest: $500

Type of holdings: ETFs

Average portfolio expense ratio: 0.09%

3-year annualized return: 6.98%

Like Betterment and SoFi Invest, Wealthfront is big on giving you access to your cash. Their high-yield cash account pays 1.82%. Wealthfront plans to add bill paying and direct deposit features, as well as ATM debit cards.

SEE ALSO: 20 Best Retirement Stocks to Buy in 2020

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