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12 Best Robo-Advisors To Help Invest In Your Future (Updated 2019)

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best robo-advisor

New to investing and don’t know where to get started? Have a robo-advisor do all of the work for you. Simply answer some questions about your age, risk level and a few other questions and get a hand-picked portfolio from financial experts.

Here’s a list of the 12 best Robo-Advisors to help with your online investments:

What Is A Robo-Advisor And How Does It Work?

A robo-advisor is a digital platform that provides financial planning resources and services. It uses an algorithm-based method, along with data collected from the client, to automatically invest monies or offer data-driven advice for investors.

In general, robo-advisors are a good fit for those who still have a number of years ahead of them before retirement. They also work well for those with a simple portfolio who don’t maintain accounts with other financial service providers.

Robo-advisors are also ideal for those who have limited investment experience and aren’t sure where to start allocating their cash.

What To Expect From A Robo-Advisor App?

Most robo-advisors offer the same type of financial investment services, including:

  • Diversification recommendations based on risk tolerance and overall financial goals
  • Portfolio rebalancing completed automatically
  • Tax-saving strategies (tax harvesting)
  • Tools for financial planning

A robo-advisor is efficient at managing taxable accounts and individual retirement accounts. Some platforms are designed to manage other interests, including your 401k or trust fund.

The app will collect your personal information through a questionnaire. It will then analyze your financial goals, your risk tolerance, and other factors to build your portfolio.

Portfolios are generally built through low-cost, index and exchange-traded funds, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. The platform would analyze the behavior of the index and invest accordingly in the 500 companies’ stocks.

What Are The Benefits Of A Robo-Advisor?

While the robo-advisor platforms are not free, they are available at a much lower cost than their human counterparts. Different apps offer a variety of features, including tax optimization and investment rebalancing, you can choose from to ensure you are working with the right platform for your investment needs.

Robo-advisors typically collect a much smaller percentage than a human advisor. Your fees will be paid based on a percentage of your assets, usually quarterly or on a monthly basis.

You also won’t need to pay out transaction fees for selling or buying investments, or when depositing or withdrawing money, which are typical with most brokerage firms.  In addition to the robo-advisor’s management fee, you’ll also pay expense ratios fees charged by the funds.

If you enjoy building your investment portfolio but prefer the automated process of optimizing your investments, a robo-advisor app may can help you save money and get more bang out of your buck.

Are Robo-Advisors Better Than Human Advisors?

There is no one-source solution for your investment planning needs. Everyone has different financial goals and abilities. A robo-advisor may help you get started in the world of investments.

As you achieve short-term financial goals and begin to better understand the process of investing, you may decide to seek out the professional services of a human financial advisor to take your investments to another level.

Robo-advisor software does offer many benefits, including simple platforms to get you started in investing. It allows you to grow your money through convenient, automated software and no hassles.

There are limits on what the software can do, especially as your portfolios grow and your goals change.

A financial advisor offers many different services not available through an app. They can help you eliminate debt and advise you on other important financial matters, including estate planning and insurance. They are well-equipped to teach you about how to effectively manage your money in and out of investments.

The good news is you can utilize the services of both a personal financial advisor, as well as the automated ease of robo-advisor software to create financial stability for the future.

Provided you consider all fees associated with both services, you can use the combination of assistance to grow your investments and consistently learn how to manage your money.

What To Consider When Selecting A Robo-Advisor?

Not all robo-advisors are created equally.It is important that you consider all aspects of what each platform requires and what it can offer you in managing your investments.

Some of the most common differences between robo-advisor apps include:

Annual Fees

Understand how much the regular fees are associated with each app and how they are charged (annually, quarterly, monthly). You also need to be cautious of any hidden fees involved in the buying and selling of investments.

Minimum Deposits

While robo-advisors require less upfront investments than many human advisors, it is important to understand the initial required deposit for each platform you consider.

Account Support

Find a robo-advisor designed to handle your chosen account types. Most will offer support of individual retirement accounts and taxable accounts but if you need one to manage your 401k or other type of account, ensure your chosen app can accommodate.

Allocation of Assets

The allocation of your assets will be different based on the platform you use and the questionnaire answers you provide through each platform.

Tax Optimization

Consider the viability of robo-advisor apps that offer tax optimization services versus those that don’t for your specific financial needs.

Automated Services

Some robo-advisors are not fully automated and still include a human advisor’s input. These hybrid advisors may charge more money for services rendered and may not offer the full hands-off approach you are seeking.

Financial Goals

Ensure you are using a platform which aligns with your end financial goals. If you are only seeking retirement assistance, a number of platforms may work well.

But if you are looking for an application to handle college savings, vacation savings, and other types of investment goals, you’ll need to review each platform to find a more inclusive one.

The 12 Best Robo-Advisor Apps

There are several robo-advisor apps available to accommodate your specific financial needs and goals. The following is a list of the 12 best robo-advisors out there.

1. Acorns

Acorns is a robo-advisor using a unique model for saving money. It links with your credit or debit card and rounds up the total of your purchase to the nearest dollar, keeping the change in your automated portfolio.

The app offers four years of free service for college students signing up with a valid .edu email. For other users, a $1 monthly fee is assessed until the account balance reaches the $5000 mark. A .25% fee is incurred on the balance annually.

Recap: Acorns

Account Types: Individual non-retirement accounts

Advisor/Service Fees: $1 monthly until $5000 then .25% annually (student accounts are free)

Minimum Deposit: $5

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

2. Essential Portfolios

Essential Portfolios is offered through TD Ameritrade Investment Management, LLC. It provides low-cost investment solutions using automated software.

There is a required $5000 minimum deposit to get started and an annual .3% advisory fee. Essential Portfolios invests in non-proprietary exchange-traded funds and it automatically invests, rebalances, and reallocates your investments based on your needs.

Recap:  Essentials Portfolios

Advisor/Service Fees: .3% annually  

Account Types: Standard account, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Rollover IRA. 529 college plans, individual trusts, pension plans, specialty accounts (sole proprietorship, business partnerships)

Minimum Deposit: $5000  

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

3. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

This robo-advisor software builds and rebalances your portfolio. It requires no advisory or account services fees, but you do need a minimum investment of $5000.

Investments are allocated into exchange-traded funds specially picked by the Schwab investment team. For those with more than $50,000, tax harvesting services are available.

Recap:  Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

Advisor/Service Fees:  None

Account Types: Retirement, 401k, IRA, IRA rollover, trusts

Minimum Deposit:  $5000

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

4. Wealthfront

Wealthfront offers automated investing services for full management and rebalancing of investments. Investments are made in exchange-traded funds, which track indexes in 11 asset classes.

The platform can manage retirement accounts, college savings, and short and long-term savings goals.There is a required minimum investment of $5000 but there are no fees for the first $10,000.

Additional monthly fees are charged after that threshold, with an annual rate of .25%. Trading fees are also incurred.

Recap:  Wealthfront

Advisor/Service Fees:  .25% annually, after the first $10,000

Account Types: Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, 401k Rollover, Individual and Joint accounts, Trust accounts, and 529 college savings.

Minimum Deposit:  $5000

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

5. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Vanguard invests in mutual funds and exchange-traded funds with automatic rebalancing services. It requires a minimum of $50,000 to start investing and collects .3% fees annually, based on your account balance.

Recap: Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Advisor/Service Fees:.3% annually, based on account balance

Account Types: Retirement, college funds, long and short-term goals

Minimum Deposit: $50,000

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

6. WiseBanyan

WiseBanyan was built upon the principle that investing is a right, not a privilege. Therefore, the platform is offered free, with no fees assets for account size.

There are no minimum investments required. All monies are invested into stocks and bonds through exchange-traded funds.

Recap: WiseBanyan

Advisor/Service Fees: None

Account Types: 401k, 403b, Roth IRAs, Traditional IRAs, and SEP-IRAs

Minimum Deposit: None

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

7. Ally Invest Managed Portfolios

Ally Financial offers automated investment management with no trade fees. There is a $2500 required minimum investment and an annual .30% advisor fee. It is a simple platform, offering automated management and rebalancing account services.

Recap: Ally Invest Managed Portfolios

Advisor/Service Fees: .30% annually

Account Types: Individual, joint, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, Rollover IRA, custodial IRAs.

Minimum Deposit: $2500

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: Ally website

8. SigFig

SigFig develops your portfolio based on outlined financial goals. It automatically keeps it balanced and invests money into diversified exchange-traded funds through Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity brokerages.

SigFig requires a minimum deposit amount of $2000 and charges an annual fee of .25%.

Recap: SigFig

Advisor/Service Fees:.25% annually

Account Types: Retirement accounts, short and long-term savings goals

Minimum Deposit: $2000

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

9. WorthFM

Worth FM is an all-digital, comprehensive financial management service created by women especially for women investors, but anyone can invest.

This low-cost robo-advisor platform offers five low-fee portfolios to ensure balance between risk and return. Portfolios contain a mix of up to 8 exchange-traded funds and required minimum deposits start at $50.

Fees are incurred monthly at $2 or .5% annually, providing accounts total $5000 or more.

Recap: WorthFM

Account Types: Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, retirement, short and long-term savings

Advisor/Service Fees: $2 monthly or .5% annually

Minimum Deposit: $50

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: WorthFM website

10. Betterment

Betterment is one of the first automated advisor platforms introduced to the market. Betterment requires no minimum investment amount and it doesn’t set balance requirements.

Fees are based on your balance but usually range between .25% and .40%. This robo-advisor platform invests in low-cost, globally-diversified exchange-traded funds.

It also offers free tax loss harvesting services, selling a security after it experiences a loss, on all accounts.

Recap: Betterment

Advisor/Service Fees: .25%-.4% annually, based on balance

Account Types: 401ks, IRAs, inheritance investments, long and short-term savings goals (home purchase, baby, college)

Minimum Deposit: None  

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

11. Stash

Stash is an investment app designed to make first-timers more comfortable with exchange-traded funds and learn more about how investment work.

Stash helps guide investors through the process of building an EFT portfolio with over 30 options. However, Stash doesn’t manage the accounts directly. You get to choose which investments you make from a list of suggested options.

There is a required $5 initial investment and a $1 monthly fee for all accounts with balances below $5000. For those over that amount, the annual fee incurred is .25%.

Recap: Stash

Account Types: Individual brokerage accounts

Advisor/Service Fees: $1 monthly until $5000 then .25% annually

Minimum Deposit: $5

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

12. Clink

An investment app designed to help millennials who don’t have enough money to save or invest. Clink connects with your shopping and dining patterns, allowing you to allocate a percentage of your bill to your Clink account for investments.

Clink is free to use and requires no fees. You can either contribute a set amount each week from your checking account or you can link your credit card and set a fixed percentage rate for investments.

Each time you utilize your credit card, the percentage is calculated automatically and transferred into your Clink account.

Recap: Clink

Account Types: Individual brokerage accounts

Advisor/Service Fees: $1 monthly until $5000 then .25% annually

Minimum Deposit: $5

Balance Requirement: None

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

Final Thoughts

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the 12 best robo-advisor apps to help you get started on your investments. If you see one that’s not on the list and should be, let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!

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