Robo advisors can be your best ally during uncertain times.
When the markets get tumultuous, sometimes the best thing you can do for your portfolio is to let someone else make the buy and sell decisions. Investors are the most prone to detrimental emotional decisions during market volatility, but not everyone can or wants to pay for the guidance of a human financial advisor. This is where robo advisors shine; you can get the objective guidance of a professional for a fraction of the price. But not all robo advisors are created equal. Condor Capital Wealth Management publishes semiannual Robo Reports, which grade robo advisors on 45 metrics, including features, access to human guidance, cost and performance. Here are the top 10 robo advisors of 2022 from the latest Robo Report to help you choose which robo advisor is best for you.
SoFi Invest earned best overall for providing valuable services with no management fee and a strong long-term performance track record. SoFi Invest got the highest performance score of all the robo advisors included in the ranking. “Given the role that high fees can play in detracting from performance over long periods, zero management fees are a boon to SoFi investors,” says Tom Leahy, a senior financial analyst at Condor Capital. The platform uses fractional-share investing so all you need to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, exchange-traded funds or cryptocurrency is $5. Unlike many other robo advisors, you don’t need to pay an additional fee or meet a higher minimum balance to work with a financial advisor. SoFi also provides banking and debt management services, which can make it a convenient home base for investors.
Fidelity Go is the runner-up for best overall robo advisor., according to Condor Capital. The robo advisor is a familiar name in the Robo Ranking, frequently placing near the top. “Fidelity Go is a great choice for most investors who are looking to keep fees low and invest for the long term,” Leahy says. There’s no minimum to get started, although you need at least $10 to start investing. There no advisory fee for your first $10,000. After that, you’ll pay $3 per month for balances of $10,000 to $49,999 and 0.35% per year for balances of $50,000 and more. “To construct its portfolio, Fidelity Go uses its Fidelity Flex mutual funds which have zero underlying management fees,” Leahy says. Experts behind the scenes will manage your portfolio for you after you answer a few questions about your goals and risk tolerance.
SigFig is a “perennial top choice” thanks to its strong performance track record and low fees, Leahy says. As with Fidelity Go, there is no management fee for your first $10,000. After that, you’ll pay only 0.25%, at which point you’ll get access to an investment advisor. Managed accounts also give you phone support and personalized portfolios with automatic rebalancing and tax-advantaged strategies. “Users can also use the free Portfolio Tracker tool, free of charge, which can link to outside accounts and provide thoughtful reporting on performance,” Leahy says.
Leahy calls E-Trade Core a “compelling all-around investment platform” that’s a good choice for “savvy digital investors who are comfortable with sophisticated tools.” You can get started with as little as $500 and a 0.3% management fee. The robo advisor constructs and manages portfolios for you based on your goals, time horizon and risk tolerance after you complete an investor profile questionnaire. “Investors can choose between the standard option, a socially responsible investing portfolio, and the smart beta portfolio or active indexing approach,” Leahy says. The platform also comes with a set of digital tools to help you develop your retirement plan.
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
While coming in at fifth overall, Vanguard’s robo advisor, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, won the award for the best complex financial planning services thanks to its hybrid platform that combines Vanguard’s signature index fund approach with access to live, personalized advice. Such a combination of digital tools and access to live advisors can be a benefit for investors with complex planning needs. “This service is ideal for investors who want a live advisor to review a financial plan’s complexities in detail while having the low cost and automated investing of a robo,” Leahy says. You’ll pay a 0.3% advisory fee and need $50,000 to get started.
“Betterment continues to be one of the most compelling options on the market for new investors, especially those interested in socially aware investing,” Leahy says. “Unlike other robos which may offer a single socially responsible investing theme, Betterment has a Climate Impact and Social Impact theme in addition to a Broad Impact option.” It won the title of best robo for first-time investors in the latest Robo Ranking for its low fee of 0.25% per year, wide variety of investment options and digital planning tools. For 0.4% per year, you can get access to certified financial planners or get a one-time advice package for $299 to $399. You only need $10 to get started and can set up recurring automatic contributions to help you keep savings and investing.
Wealthfront earned the title of best robo advisor for digital financial planning in the latest Robo Report. Wealthfront’s planning tool lets you choose from different goals, from retirement to education savings to planning for a big trip. You can also leverage its integration with fintech real estate firm Redfin to more accurately plan for a home purchase. “Wealthfront stands out for its easy-to-use all-in-one financial planning dashboard, which lets a user seamlessly link external accounts to see their retirement goal in one place,” Leahy says. “Wealthfront also has some of the most innovative technology as its Self-Driving Money platform is a set of features that helps users reduce idle cash and maximize the utility of each dollar.” He calls the robo advisor the “gold standard for technology” and considers it a good option for most investors. You can get started with $500 for a 0.25% annual fee.
Alongside SoFi, Axos Invest is the second-most-attractive robo advisor for top performance at a low cost, according to the Robo Report. While other robos underperformed by an average 0.93% in the Robo Ranking Study Group, Axos outperformed by 0.3%. “Axos Invest ranks high on our list thanks to a strong record of returns, low total cost and an accessible digital platform,” Leahy says. It also provides fractional-share investing and tax-loss harvesting, all for a low cost of 0.24%. It only takes $500 to get started.
Morgan Stanley Access Investing
What sets Morgan Stanley Access Investing portfolios apart is its suite of thematic investment options. “Of particular interest in the current climate is the Inflation-Conscious portfolio, which contains inflation-protection assets like commodities and energy exposure,” Leahy says. “There are also unique themes like Emerging Consumer, Defense and Cybersecurity, and Climate Action, which stand out amongst the other, more standard robo options.” You can design a portfolio of ETFs or mutual funds around a wide range of goals, from buying a home to saving for education or a wedding, and of course retirement. “The fee is a reasonable 0.30%, but the $5,000 minimum could be prohibitive for some newer investors,” Leahy says.
Merrill Edge Guided Investing
“Merrill Edge Guided Investing continues to be a strong all-around choice for the traditional wealth manager,” Leahy says. It stands out for its hybrid approach that combines modern robo advisor technology with a more traditional chief investment officer-based model, he says. “The chief investment officer of Merrill Lynch will regularly asses the market and adjust the strategies as needed, (making it) a good fit for those robo investors who want a traditional investment manager touch.” You can get started with $1,000 and a 0.45% annual fee. To get one-on-one guidance from an online advisor, you’d need to invest at least $20,000 and pay a 0.85% annual fee.
The best robo advisors of 2022:
— SoFi Invest
— Fidelity Go
— E-Trade Core
— Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
— Axos Invest
— Morgan Stanley Access Investing
— Merrill Edge Guided Investing
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Update 07/12/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.