Rating of robot advisors
Beginners need a robo platform with an easy-to-use interface and educational resources, whereas more advanced users need risk analysis tools, trading platforms, portfolio management, and more goals-based options.
Investment Advisors vs.
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Broker-Dealers We learned during our review process that there are two types of firms offering automated portfolios. For regulatory and legal reasons, their services differ considerably. Firms registered as investment advisers are allowed to help their clients determine goals and can offer specific and directed advice.
Firms registered as broker-dealers are restricted from offering targeted advice, but they have more flexibility in terms of offering features such as customizable investment choices and margin lending.
A Note on Portfolio Performance We have chosen to exclude portfolio performance from our review criteria for several reasons.
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The main reason is that every customer has specific, individualized goals when it comes to investing through a robo-advisor. Some look for a more conservative approach, while others seek aggressive growth.
In addition, all investors have different start dates and end dates. Another reason is that each of the providers has, on average, more than 20 portfolios available, and several providers have ways to customize portfolios so that the possibilities are endless.
We have chosen, instead, to focus on the overall experience of using one of these providers.
As such, we hone in on how you can plan for and set goals, as well as how transparent each robo-advisory service is when presenting information to clients. Who Are They Best For? Since clients use robo-advisors for financial planning, investing, and tracking their goals, we also ranked the various platforms for their strengths and weaknesses across the following categories: Best for Goal Setting - For those robo-advisors that are more geared to personal financial goal tracking, we awarded the platforms that provided the most assistance in developing and setting goals, as well as the most user-friendly experience.
Best for Sustainable Investing - Many of the robo-advisors we reviewed offer SRI options and highlight them in their product offerings.
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Given the increased interest in SRI, ESG and Sustainable Investing, we awarded the platforms that offered the best options in this category, including asset selection, research, and educational material.
Best for Beginners - We looked for the platforms that offered the most guidance rating of robot advisors the way, including educational tools to help beginners grow into the next level.
A simple way to get started along with a logical workflow are important considerations in this category. Best for Sophisticated Investors - Some investors want to have portions of their portfolios managed, so we looked for platforms that offer flexible, personalizable investing choices and research amenities. Best for Cash Management -- This is the robo-advisor with the most flexible tools for managing a client's cash holdings.
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That includes an automatic sweep of excess cash into a higher interest-paying account or money market fund, plus banking services such as check writing and bill paying. Best for Low Costs -- The robo-advisor that charges the lowest fees across a range of account sizes. This score includes fees for closing an account or issuing checks and wires.
Best for Education -- We evaluated education opportunities built into the robo-advisor itself as well as the clarity of the service's FAQ. Best for Portfolio Contents -- This category is the robo-advisor with the highest score described below in the Portfolio Contents category.
A high score requires socially responsible portfolio choices that include individual stocks, and a wide selection of non-proprietary ETFs and mutual funds. Best for Portfolio Management -- The top robo-advisor in this category rebalances portfolios when they drift from goal, enables tax-loss harvesting or tax minimization strategies, offers clear reports on goal progress, and consolidates external accounts for reporting and analysis Best for Mobile App -- All of the robo-advisors offer mobile access to their rating of robot advisors.
In the modern age of investing, a simple and easy on-ramp is necessary to interest new and younger clients, especially for robo-advisors, who are working to break out of the status quo and existing standards. With this in mind, we found it important to assess the following aspects of robo-advisor rating of robot advisors in our account setup category: Online account setup Ability to see portfolio contents prior to funding Customizability of portfolios Adjustability of portfolios based on goals Overall ease of the sign-up process Goal Setting The goal-setting category grades the extent to which you can define and track your investing goals.
While some may just want to beat the market and potentially make some money, others are looking to meet more specific needs. Robo-advisors who provide their clients with features that help set, plan for, and track goals scored well in this category. To score robo-advisors based on these features we took into account the following features: Retirement: Are there resources to help clients calculate how much they will need to retire comfortably?
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Large purchases home, vehicle, etc. College savings: Are there college cost databases that clients can consult to set their savings targets? Other goals: Does the robo-advisor only have a few pre-set options for their clients to choose from or can clients create their own goals?
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Are there calculators and tools to help with these goals? Account Services Our account services category gauges the quantity and quality of the services that each platform offers. There are a lot of robo-advisors in the industry. Some try to cover it all and some try to cover specific use cases. In this category, while it may be beneficial to have lots of features, this only really matters if the features are of high quality. Access to the following features is how we based scores in this category: Automatic deposits Margin offerings and fees charged Sweep to a money market fund or high-interest bank account Interest paid on cash balances Banking services -- checking, bill paying, cash transfers Borrowing against accounts Placing trades for individual equities Portfolio Construction This section of our methodology determines what types of asset classes in which clients can invest.
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Since all of the robo-advisors offer exchange-traded funds ETFswe considered whether clients could invest in other asset types as well. An ever-changing landscape of financial asset classes creates pressure for brokerages and robo-advisors and forces them to consider offering these new options.
As these new options come into play, such as socially responsible investing or cryptocurrencies, brokerages and robo-advisors must evaluate them and determine if they are worthwhile for their businesses and viable investments for their clients.
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We looked at the mutual funds and ETFs offered to determine whether each robo-advisory service was making a wide range of fund providers available, with higher scores awarded to those who offer non-proprietary funds.
For our Portfolio Contents category, we looked to see if the following asset classes were available to clients: Individual stocks.
SigFig won because of its record of strong performance, low fees, and access to advisors at lower asset levels than many other providers. Over the 2. Its resulting performance score drove it to the top of the Ranking. However, SigFig has many attractive features beyond performance.