best robo-advisors 2018

The Top 34 Robo-Advisors of 2018

Robo-advisors have become an extremely popular investment tool for Millennials and other investors. Rather than requiring you to make decisions like a passive investment strategy or pay high fees as you would with an active management strategy, robo-advisors enlist the help of technology to manage your portfolio.

And because there’s not a lot of human involvement — at least for the most part — robo-advisors are relatively inexpensive, given the services they offer.

“[Robo-advisors] are are a great, low-cost entry point for professional management,” says David Goldstone, a research analyst for The Robo Report.  “Robos do a nice job of filling in a service gap between self-directed offerings and traditional advice relationships. Robo-advisors have a model that is economically feasible to serve lower asset clients and have thus expanded access to professional money management.”

It’s not easy to pick the right one, though. Depending on your goals and preferences, one may be better than all of the others. To help you make the right decision, here’s a list of the top 34 robo-advisors on the market today, along with a quick summary of what they offer.

The top 34 robo-advisors to check out today

If you want to pick the right robo-advisor, consider each of these carefully.

1 – Acorns

Arguably the leading micro-investing app, Acorns allows you to connect a bank account and round up each transaction to the nearest dollar, moving the round-up amount into your investment portfolio. You can then invest your cash in low-cost portfolios based on exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

In 2018, Acorns debuted Acorns Later, a retirement account. There’s no minimum opening balance requirement, and you’ll pay either $1 or $2 a month, depending on if you want Acorns Later.

2 – Ally Invest Advisors

Ally Bank acquired TradeKing in 2016, including its robo-advisor service. The platform is sleek, but it doesn’t provide a lot of education for investors. To get started, you need a minimum of $2,500. If you have less than $5,000 a month invested, you’ll pay $1 per month. If you have $5,000 or more, you’ll pay a 0.30% annual advisory fee.

3 – Betterment

One of the first robo-advisors on the market, Betterment offers a good all-around service for investors. There’s no minimum opening balance, and you’ll pay a 0.25% advisory fee. In exchange, you’ll get access to several types of portfolios, including socially responsible and beta smart portfolios.

If you have more than $100,000 invested with Betterment, you can upgrade to Betterment’s premium service, which charges a 0.40% advisory fee and gives you on-demand access to a team of Certified Financial Planners (CFPs).

4 – Blooom

Blooom only offers 401(k)s and other employer-sponsored retirement plans. It has no minimum opening balance requirement, but its fees can be hefty if you don’t have a lot invested. It charges $10 per month.

5 – Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

Adding to its suite of investment services, Charles Schwab offers a robo-advisor service through its Intelligent Portfolios service. There’s an account minimum of $5,000, but there’s no management fee. Instead, it charges an expense ratio, which ranges from 0.06% to 0.20%, depending on how aggressive your portfolio is.

6 – Ellevest

Ellevest isn’t shy about the fact that it’s pro-female, but you can still sign up if you’re male. There’s no account minimum, and the advisory fee will be 0.25% for most. If you want to upgrade to Ellevest Premium, which offers access to in-house CFPs, you’ll need at least $50,000 invested and pay a 0.50% advisory fee.

7 – E-Trade Core Portfolios

To get started, you need $5,000 invested, and you’ll pay an ongoing 0.30% advisory fee. E-Trade offers a handful of asset classes in its portfolio mix, including socially responsible and smart beta portfolios.

8 – Fidelity Go

Powered primarily by index funds, Fidelity Go requires $10 to start investing. Despite its reliance on index funds, however, its fees are relatively high. You’ll pay 0.35% for retirement accounts and up to 0.40% for taxable accounts. Fidelity is a bit different in that it combines the robo-advisor approach with a team of human advisors making some of the big decisions with your portfolio.

9 – Financial Engines

Like Blooom, Financial Engines is focused on employer-sponsored retirement plans. The advisory fee ranges from 0.20% to 0.60%, which can be high compared with the competition. That said, you’ll have access to investment advisors if you have questions.

10 – Financial Guard

You don’t have to move your investments to Financial Guard to get help. Rather, this robo-advisor analyzes your current account with another broker and gives you advice. You’ll pay a fee of $15.95 per month or $149.95 per year.

11 – Finhabits

A micro-investing app designed for retirement savings, Finhabits requires a savings commitment of just $5 per week. It charges a flat fee of $1 per month for balances under $2,500 and a 0.50% advisory fee on balances of $2,500 or more. Other than Acorns Later, Finhabits is the only micro-investing platform focused on retirement.

12 – FutureAdvisor

FutureAdvisor offers a free service that allows you to connect your current investment accounts and get recommendations (like Financial Guard). If you want to invest with the robo-advisor, you’ll need at least $10,000 saved, and you’ll pay an advisory fee of 0.50%.

13 – Hedgeable

Hedgeable is different from other robo-advisors in that it’s designed to hedge against catastrophic losses that can hurt your long-term portfolio growth. Fees range from 0.30% to 0.75%, making it one of the more expensive robo-advisors.

14 – IncomeClub

Designed specifically for bond investors, IncomeClub is a good option for investors who want protection against the volatility of stocks and other more risky investments. Management fees range from 0.20% to 0.25%.

15 – Liftoff

Backed by TD Ameritrade, Liftoff boasts low-cost portfolios but isn’t transparent about fees or minimum balance requirements. You have to go through the sign-up process or contact Liftoff directly to get answers.

16 – M1 Finance

M1 Finance is a sort of robo-advisor and broker hybrid. It puts together pre-determined portfolios you can invest in, but you also have the option to customize your own portfolio. Best of all, there are no fees.

17 – MarketRiders

MarketRiders is a good option if you want to control some aspects of your investments or go full robo-advisor. The firm doesn’t list any fees for robo-advisor clients. But if you want to do it yourself, you’ll pay $14.95 per month or $149.95 annually. Either way, you’ll get expert guidance with your investments.

18 – Motif

Built on stocks, ETFs, IPOs, and American depository receipts (ADRs; foreign stocks listed on U.S. exchanges), Motif allows investors to purchase fractional shares. You don’t need a minimum amount to open an account but need at least $300 to invest. Monthly account management fees range from $4.95 to $19.95.

19 – Merrill Edge Guided Investing

Merrill Edge uses a mix of ETFs and a team of portfolio managers to help guide your investments. It’s a good option if you don’t fully trust a robot to manage your portfolio. Because of the human element, it’s a bit more pricey than other robo-advisors; you’ll pay a management fee of 0.45%. You’ll need $5,000 to invest.

20 – OpenInvest

Rather than investing in pre-built portfolios, customers of OpenInvest can base their portfolio on their values. In other words, this is the ultimate choice for socially responsible investors. It’s not cheap, though. You’ll need $5,000 to open an account, and you’ll pay a 0.50% management fee, plus a 0.22% fee if you choose the green bond fund.

21 – Personal Capital

With a minimum balance of $100,000, Personal Capital is focused on high net worth clients. Even for wealth investors, however, the fees — 0.49% to 0.89% — may not be worth it. That said, anyone can use the platform’s financial management tools for free. They include an investment checkup, a 401(k) fee analyzer, and a spending tracker.

22 – Polaris Portfolios

Another investment platform with a socially responsible twist, Polaris Portfolios offers an easy-to-understand service for beginners and advanced investors alike. Its fees likely aren’t worth it for most, though. It charges 0.75% on balances below $1 million and 0.50% on balances of $1 million or more. It also has a minimum balance requirement of $5,000.

23 – QPlum

Like Ellevest, QPlum is focused on helping women build wealth. Like other robo-advisors, this one focused on investing in ETFs. You’ll pay a 0.50% management fee, which includes unlimited planning sessions with in-house advisors.

24 – Rebalance IRA

Another high-end robo-advisor, Rebalance IRA requires that you have a minimum of $100,000 to invest. In addition to a 0.50% advisor fee, the platform charges a $250 fee just to open an account — that’s rare among brokers, let alone robo-advisors. While its name suggests it focuses on retirement accounts, Rebalance IRA also offers taxable accounts.

25 – SigFig

If you’re a small-time investor, SigFig might be a good option. It has no management fees for balances below $10,000 (there is, however, a $2,000 minimum). And once you reach $10,000, the fee is a decent 0.25%. You’ll also get free access to financial advisors who can help you direct your investments and answer questions.

26 – SoFi Wealth Management

Like many other robo-advisors we’ve covered, SoFi Wealth Management offers a mix of robo-driven decisions and access to financial advisors. If you have a SoFi loan or have a balance under $10,000, the service is free. Otherwise, you’ll pay 0.25% per year. The platform has a low $100 account minimum to get started.

27 – Stash

With a mix of ETFs and individual stocks, Stash is another micro-investing service geared toward beginner investors. You need just $5 to start and Stash will do most of the work for you. If you have a balance under $5,000, you’ll pay $1 per month (or $2 per month for an IRA account). Once you reach $5,000, though, you’ll switch to a 0.25% management fee.

28 – Swell Investing

Another major player in the socially responsible investing space, Swell Investing offers portfolios that include alternative energy, clean water, disease eradication, and healthy living. You need just $50 to sign up but the fees are high at 0.75%. That said, the fees could be worth it if you believe strongly in the company’s mission.

29 – TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios

A fairly new robo-advisor, TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios is backed by one of the largest investment brokers in the world. It offers a wide variety of account options and a handful of funds. You need $5,000 to get started, and the management fee is competitive at 0.30%.

30 – Vanguard Personal Adviser Services

Vanguard Personal Adviser Services is geared toward higher net worth clients, but its minimum isn’t nearly as high as Personal Capital’s and Rebalance IRA’s. You need $50,000 to get started and you can expect a management fee of 0.30%. What sets Vanguard apart is that your portfolio is created by an advisor on an individual basis.

31 – Wealthfront

Another legacy robo-advisor like Betterment, Wealthfront is another great option for beginners. It does have an account minimum of $500, but the fees are low at 0.25%. One thing that makes Wealthfront special is that it offers 529 College Savings Plans, which allow you to save for college costs on a tax-free basis.

32 – Wealthsimple

Primarily based in Canada, Wealthsimple entered the U.S. market in 2016 with a robust selection of socially responsible investment options. While it charges management fees of 0.40% to 0.50%, that’s low compared to other robo-advisors that offer socially responsible portfolios. Plus, there’s no account minimum to get started.

33 – WiseBanyan

Calling itself “the world’s first free financial advisor,” WiseBanyan doesn’t have an account minimum and doesn’t charge any management fees. Instead, you’ll just pay the ETF expense ratios like you would with any robo-advisor. That said, you do have to pay for tax harvesting, which is a feature that typically comes free.

34 – ZacksAdvantage

ZacksAdvantage offers both active management and robo-advisor portfolios and is geared toward high net worth clients. You need $5,000 to open an account and will pay a 0.50% management fee until you reach a $100,000 balance. Then, the fee goes down to 0.35%. If you’re not satisfied with the service, the robo-advisor will refund 100% of your management fees.

How to choose the best robo-advisor for you

As you can see, there are a lot of options out there. Before you get overwhelmed, though, take a step back and consider what your needs are.

“Most importantly investors should consider their own needs and the level of service they want,” says Goldstone. “Whether or not access to human advisors is important or there are more advanced planning needs that will help narrow down appropriate providers. Levels of service, performance, costs, and breadth of portfolio options are all factors to consider when selecting a robo-advisor.”

For example, if you want a little more hands-on experience, choose one that offers a more hybrid approach. And if you prefer to invest in socially responsible companies, choose a robo-advisor that focuses on that.

As you compare top robo-advisors, look at management fees, customer service, and fund selection. Also, check to see what kind of accounts they offer and how much you need to get started.

As you consider all of these factors, you’ll be on your way to achieving your financial goals.