Top 10 Best Robo Advisors [160 Point Review & Comparison]

Our Definitive Comparison Of The 10 Best Robo Advisor & Automated Investing Platforms Reveals The Best Performance, Fund Selection & Lowest Fees.

REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Emperor Invests – Best for a Fully Automated Pure Stock Value Portfolio with Industry Leading Track Record of 16.85% vs S&P 500 7.6%
M1 Finance – Best for Investors Seeking Commission Free & Automated Portfolios Based On Their Risk Profile
Betterment – Best for Beginner Investors Seeking an Established Player with Socially Responsible and Retirement Focused Portfolios
Wealthfront – Good for those Seeking Completely Diversified Automated Investing Inline with Market Averages
Ellevest – Tailored for Women Who Want to Plan for Their Life Goals as Opposed to Seeking Maximum Investment Returns
Morgan Stanley Access Investing – For Those Seeking A Plethora of Tested Portfolios with Theoretical Investment Outcomes
TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios – Good for Investors Seeking Tax Loss Harvesting and Socially Aware Investing
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services – Great for Those Seeking A Personal Service
Fidelity Go – Great for U.S. Investors Seeking an Established Name With Low Opening Balance
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – Good for Investors seeking the Security of an Established Player

 

Top 10 Best Robo Advisor Services

Robo Advisors are all the rage and a fast-growing sector of the financial services industry.  Offering automated portfolios tailored to your life goals, personal beliefs, and your risk profile, much of the value of a human financial advisor is replaced with a structured and automated process.

The huge bonus is the accessibility to your portfolio performance from your computer or smartphone.  The Robo Advisors also provide automated tax-loss harvesting and portfolio rebalancing, which can save you a lot of effort, time and money.

Welcome to the world of Robo Advisors.

The Top 10 Best Robo Advisors Are:

  • Emperor InvestsWINNER – Best for a Fully Automated Pure Stock Value Portfolio with an Industry Leading Track Record of 16.85% vs S&P 500 7.6% 1
  • M1 FinanceRECOMMENDED – Best for Investors Seeking Commission Free & Automated Portfolios Based On Their Risk Profile
  • Betterment – Good for Beginner Investors Seeking an Established Player with Socially Responsible and Retirement Focused Portfolios
  • Wealthfront – Good for those Seeking Completely Diversified Automated Investing Inline with Market Averages
  • Vanguard – Personal Advisor Services – Great for Those Seeking A Personal Service.
  • Morgan Stanley Access Investing – For Those Seeking A Plethora of Tested Portfolios with Theoretical Investment Outcomes
  • Ellevest – Tailored for Women Who Want to Plan for Their Life Goals as Opposed to Seeking Maximum Investment Returns
  • TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios – Good for Investors Seeking Tax Loss Harvesting and Socially Aware Investing
  • Fidelity Go – Great for U.S. Investors Seeking an Established Name With Low Opening Balance
  • Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – Good for Investors seeking the Security of an Established Player

Click The Company Name Above To Jump To The Review

What Is A Robo Advisor?

A Robo Advisor is a digital application that offers users financial advice created by algorithms, artificial intelligence, or mathematical formulas.  The term Robo Advisor is short for robot advisor. However, the phrase Robo Advisor is inaccurate. To explain, a Robo Advisor is a digital construct, usually an algorithm or artificial intelligence (AI) rather than an actual robot.

However, the terms “robo” and “bot” are financial-industry slang terms for digital financial applications. For example, so-called trading robots or trade bots handle most of the trades on the world’s financial markets.

Interestingly, news reports indicate many financial industry professionals hate the terms “robo” and “bot.” However, those words are the standard industry technology for digital advisors at the present time.

The idea behind Robo Advisors is that software is more accurate, more honest, and less biased than human advisors. For instance, a Robo Advisor is not likely to receive a commission or kick-back on equities or securities it sells.  In addition, promoters claim Robo Advisors are less likely to make mistakes than people. Notably, algorithms are better at math than most humans.  Lastly, Robo Advisors are not going to suffer from the emotional decision making that most investors and traders try to battle against.

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Emperor Invests – Best for a Fully Automated Pure Stock Value Portfolio with Industry-Leading Track Record of 16.85% vs S&P 500 7.6%

Emeperor Investing Robo AdvisorProsConsPerformance Rating:★★★★★
Fees AUM: 0.6%★ Offers pure equity investing. Thus no funds or ETFs offered✘ No ETFs or mutual funds available.16.85% vs S&P 500 7.62%
Hidden Fees: None★ Harvests all dividends & Tax Losses✘ Slightly Higher than Average annual fee
★ Offers direct stock investing – you own the stock
Visit Emperor★ Option for dividend re-balancing available.
★ Low $500 minimum balance
★ Tailored portfolios available.
★ Hybrid – machine plus human research

 

Liberated Stock Trader Review WinnerLaunched in 2018 Emperor Investments brings something new and innovative to the table.  Unlike most Robo Advisors all stocks that Emperor purchases on your behalf are directly owned by you and available in your portfolio, so there is no abstraction of ownership of the underlying assets, this is something I really like and consider important with any service you choose.

The Investing Methodology

Emperor is also different from most of the Robo Advisors on this list because they are dealing purely with stock equities only.  Many Robo Advisors are simply based on the purchase of ETF’s in the USA or across the globe for diversification.

Emperor takes a much more detailed and scientific approach to individual stock selection.  Firstly they have chosen to combine statistical analysis of money flows using the Markowitz [1952] Mean-Variance Optimization Model, this uses statistical technical analysis of the relationships between different stocks and indices.

This is then used with fundamental analysis using the Fundamental Indexing [FI] approach which rates, ranks and balances a portfolio allocation to companies based on the core fundamentals including but not limited to the Sharpe Ratio.

Investing Performance

This all sounds complicated, but essentially combining technical and fundamental analysis allows Emperor to beat the underlying market, in this case, the S&P 500, by almost 9% per year.  The one caveat is, that the model has been forward tested over the last 11 years, so these results are theoretical, but the belief is that Emperor will continue to beat the market moving forward.  Only time will tell, but now the fund is live and the real world returns will be released soon for the 12 months to July 2019.

Of the 10 Main Robo Advisory Services, Emperor Claims the Best Market-Beating Performance

Emperor charges 0.6% per year on assets under management, this is low compared to mutual funds, but higher than the average costs of competing Robo Advisory services.  An important point here is although the average annual fees for Robo Advisors are between 0.25% and 0.35% per year, if Emperor delivers the expected real-world return of significantly beating the underlying index by 5% to 9%, the 0.6% fee they charge will be a small change, in fact, a bargain compared to the longer-term compounded gains you will receive.  In addition to this, there are no hidden fees with Emperor, many competitors will charge additional fees for the ETF’s or Mutual Funds they invest in on your behalf, not so with Emperor, it is simply a 0.6% flat fee.

Finally, to round off the service, Emperor harvests all dividends for you and automatically reinvests them.

Visit Emperor To Find Out MoreRead The Full Emperor Review

1 Emperor returns are at the moment based on paper trading/ forward testing over the last 11 years, the real world returns will be released soon 

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M1 Finance – Best for Investors Seeking Commission Free & Automated Portfolios Based On Their Risk Profile

 M1 Finance Robo AdvisorProsConsPerformance Rating: ★★★★
Fees AUM: 0.0%★ Commission Free automated investing.✘ Focused on US customers Only.M1 claims its funds offer a 9.87% rate of return.
Hidden Fees: None★ Low minimum accounts balance of $500.✘ No hybrid advisors available.Typically within 2% of the comparative benchmark
★ Allows you to buy fractional shares of any stock or fund.✘ Minimum balance of $10,000 for some services including lending.
Visit M1★ Military-grade 4096-bit encryption and two-factor authentication for security.
★ Offers lines of credit.
★ M1 Securities are insured for up to $500,000 by SIPC.
★ American accounts are insured up to $250,000 by FDIC

 

Liberated Stock Trader Review RecommendedM1 Robo Investment Service Details

M1 Finance is the only Robo Advisory service in our review that offers commission-free trading for their customers.  This means your account will have no management fee whatsoever.  This is very positive for the service, but the question is, how do they make money?  They essentially make money from short-term lending of any available cash funds to the overnight inter-bank market, if you utilize their borrowing facility or if you invest in an M1 Plus account.  Finally, they will receive some small rebates from liquidity providers for their order flow.  This is all quite normal and used throughout the industry.

Another great bonus of this mature service from M1 is that tax-loss harvesting is automatically integrated into the account.  This means that when you choose to withdraw funds from your account, the algorithms will consider which securities to sell giving priority to those that are incurring losses, so they can offset future gains, clever.

On top of this, M1 promotes the purchase of fractional shares as a unique selling point, this means that if the portfolio you are invested in dictates a purchase of a share with a high price, you can still be fully invested with a purchase of a fraction of the share.

Another nice addition is that there is an integrated checking account, M1 Plus, which includes a Visa card so you can access your funds easily.

The Investing Methodology

m1-pie-portfolios
M1 Pie

M1’s investing approach is based on expertly curated portfolios.  Each portfolio is called a “Pie”, each pie is made up of multiple stocks with specific weightings based on what risk or exposure you seek.  There are close to 100 expert pies to choose from with varying levels of return and past performance.  You can select an expert pie or even build your own.  The great thing is that when you send funds to your account the money is then automatically fully invested into your pie based on your allocation rules, and because there are no fees, this will not impact your account’s bottom line.

Investing Performance

M1 provides so many different expert portfolios to choose from and depending on when you open an account and choose to invest, the returns on your investment can vary.  Suffice to say, M1 claims that on average their expert portfolios (pies) are within or slightly above the underlying market return.

Visit M1 Finance

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Betterment – Best for Beginner Investors Seeking an Established Player with Socially Responsible and Retirement Focused Portfolios

Betterment Robo AdvisoryProsConsPerformance Rating: ★★★★
Fees AUM: 0.25%★ Offers hybrid advisor services.✘ Focuses on index funds rather than individual stocks.Betterment claims it offers 5% higher returns than the average US investor receives.
Hidden Fees: None★ No minimum investment needed.✘ Could place some serious limits on investor choices and behavior.
★ Offers a variety of products including Trust Accounts.✘ Claims to use “guardrails” to protect investors from themselves.
Visit Betterment★ Special services like tax-loss harvesting and socially responsible investing available.✘ No details of security arrangements available.
★ Focused on smaller investors.
★ Focuses on retirement.

 

Betterment Investment Service Details

Betterment offers a robust Robo Investing service centered around the individual.  The service can be fully automated or can benefit from the use of the hybrid robo advisor service which essentially means there is also a human touch to the service and portfolio curation.  The yearly management fee of 0.25% of assets under management (AUM) comes in at the lower end of the average fee structure of the other providers.  The hybrid advisor service is an additional service which grants you access to a human expert Certified Financial Planner for a fixed cost. Plans are one-off payments from $149 for a “getting started” package, through to a retirement planning package for $399.  I like the fixed cost approach to accessing the services of a financial planner as it makes your costs predictable.

The Investing Methodology

The Betterment investing experience starts with a series of questions so they can better understand your needs, goals and risk tolerances, which makes a lot of sense and is similar to the experience of having a human financial advisor.  This then recommends a stock versus bonds allocation for your portfolio.  The Betterment stock allocation at its core invests using Markowitz’ modern portfolio theory but instead uses ETF’s as the vehicle for low cost investing and international diversification.

Investing Performance

Betterment’s proven past returns according to its literature equates to a 5% higher return than the average US investor attains per year.  This if course varies depending on your percentage of stocks versus bonds allocation you select in your account.  One contributor to this solid return is the highly efficient approach to tax-loss harvesting.

Betterment is currently the third-largest Robo Advisory service in the USA with over $13.5 billion dollars in assets under management.

Visit Betterment

 

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Wealthfront – Good for those Seeking Completely Diversified Automated Investing Inline with Market Averages

wealthfront-robo-advisorProsConsPerformance Rating: ★★★★
Fees AUM: 0.25%★ Offers free financial planning.✘ No hybrid advisors available. Typically within 1% of comparative Benchmark
Hidden Fees: None★ Easy to Use App✘ No human financial planning advice available.
★ Allows Passive Investing✘ Completely automated strategies.
Visit Wealthfront★ Offers tax-loss harvesting and other loss-mitigation strategies✘ No details of security arrangements available.
★ One low fee
★ Low $500 minimum investment

 

Wealthfront Investment Service Details

Wealthfront offers a completely automated service to their clients for a lower than the average yearly fee of 0.25% of assets under management.  The unique offering here is that you can integrate all of your financial accounts, for example, your bank, and Wealthfront can analyze your spending patterns, income, and outgoings.  They also are able to then combine what they have learned about you, with 3rd party information on mortgages, housing costs, school fees etc to be able to provide your personalized automated advice.   So, if one of your financial goals is to save up for a deposit on a four-bedroom apartment in New York, they can advise you what the typical downpayment would be, how much you need to invest and how long it will take to achieve that goal.

The Investing Methodology

Like the other Robo Advisor services, Wealthfronts asset allocation is again based on Markowitz’s modern portfolio theory, which finds that broad asset allocation across asset classes is the best way to optimize risk and reward.  This is then achieved using a Wealthfront selected set of exchange-traded funds (ETF’s) that have been assessed and rated for performance, stability and expected performance in different macro-economic climates. This like the other robo investment services is based on a mix of US and International ETF’s combined with exposure to Bonds and Real Estate.

Investing Performance

Wealthfront, to their credit, do not claim to be able to beat the market, instead, they are a safe and effective pair of hands to trust your money with.  So, do not expect outsize fund performance, expect performance in line or slightly under the S&P 500. Many people have bought into this ethos as Wealthfront clients entrust them with over $10 billion dollars of their money, making them the fourth-biggest Robo Advisory Service in the USA.

Visit Wealthfront

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Ellevest – Tailored for Women Who Want to Plan for Their Life Goals as Opposed to Seeking Maximum Investment Returns

Ellevest Automated InvestingProsConsPerformance Rating: N/A
Fees AUM: 0.25%★ $0 Minimum investment✘ Charges additional fees for hybrid advisory services.No Performance Data Available
Hidden Fees: None★ No penalty for withdrawals.✘ Unclear if tax-loss harvesting is available.
★ Female CEO Sallie Krawcheck✘ No details of security arrangements available.
Visit Ellevest★ Some hybrid services available on accounts.
★ Offers algorithms that are tailored for a customer’s salary, gender, and lifespan.
★ Private wealth management services available.
★ Claims to be designed by women for women.

 

Ellevest Robo Service Details

In a world unfortunately still dominated by men, Ellevest seeks to breath fresh air into the stuffy male-dominated investment industry.  The unique selling point and the niche market that Ellevest have carved out is by focusing on the unique needs of women.  Interestingly women live longer than men, usually have a career break for children and earn less than men, this means that women require different advice more suited to their life events.

Our own stock market statistics have also uncovered that women tend to invest in the stock market less than men, so I am certainly in favor of a service that makes investing more accessible and tailored to women’s needs, and it all starts with the ability to open an account with Ellevest with no minimum deposit.  Ellevest also caters for the more socially responsible and caring nature of women by offering portfolios focusing on sustainable and accountable companies, including prioritizing investments in companies that promote women’s issues, have more diversity of women on the board and companies that can demonstrate reducing carbon footprint and promoting environmental change.  This is all to be applauded, but what about performance.

Ellevest Robo Advisor Performance

Ellevest does not promise to deliver performance better than the benchmark indices, instead, it counters that notion by suggesting that it is reaching your financial and personal goals that are more important than great performance.  The typical Ellevest portfolio will include US stocks, international stocks, currencies, bonds and real estate, some of which includes socially responsible impact funds.

Visit Ellevest

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Morgan Stanley Access Investing – For Those Seeking A Plethora of Tested Portfolios with Theoretical Investment Outcomes

Morgan Stanley Automated InvestingProsConsPerformance Rating: N/A
Fees AUM: 0.35%★ Offers a detailed investment plan.✘ Higher than average fee.No Performance Data Available
Hidden Fees: ETF & Mutual Fund Fees★ Bases portfolios on an investors’ risk tolerance.✘ $5,000 minimum investment required.
★ Algorithm runs thousands of simulations to forecast portfolio performance.✘ Simulations could offer unrealistic pictures of market performance
Visit Advisor★ Hybrid advisors available.✘ No details of security arrangements available.

 

Morgan Stanley Access Investing Robo Service

With $5,000 you can open a Morgan Stanley Robo account and for the pleasure of using their service, you will be charged a 0.35% fee on assets under management.  In addition to this, the small print indicates there are additional fees for the ETF’s and Mutual Funds that you will own.  For this initial investment, you will receive an automated detailed initial investment plan tailored to your goals and risk profile based on the questionnaire you complete online.

They also offer hybrid advisor services so you could also speak with or get some human advice on your portfolio.

Morgan Stanley Access Investing Robo Service Performance

Again as with many of the robo advisor services, there are no claims about returning market-beating percentages to customers, instead, the service is focused on enabling an automated and balanced portfolio recommendation.  So do not expect to beat the market.  One thing I like a lot is that they offer you the flexibility to also select topics that you feel passionate about and they will skew your portfolio in favor of companies in line with your values or beliefs.  For example, if you prefer your investments to tilt in favor of companies or funds that promote gender diversity, climate action or even robotics & artificial intelligence the Morgan Stanley Access Service will have you covered.

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TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios – Good for Investors Seeking Tax Loss Harvesting and Socially Aware Investing

 TD Ameritrade Robo AdvisorProsConsPerformance Rating: N/A
Fees AUM: 0.3%★ Hybrid advisors available through professional Portfolio Management.✘ $5,000 minimum deposit required.No Performance Data Available
Hidden Fees: None★ Socially aware investing available.✘ No banking services or insured accounts available.
★ Personalized portfolios available.✘ No details of security arrangements available.
Visit TDA★ Free tax-loss harvesting on all accounts.

 

TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios Robo Service Details

This service starts off well with a relatively low fee of 0.3% of assets under management and no hidden fees.  You will need $5,000 to initially open an account.  You then begin by answering a few questions about yourself and what you would like to achieve, then TDA will recommend one of five core portfolios based on your information.

You do have access, at least via the messaging chat system, to ask questions to the portfolio management team.

Investment Methodology & Results

Like many of the other Robo Advisor services, TDA will recommend a selection of exchange-traded funds (ETF’s) based on modern portfolio theory, which seeks to minimize risk and optimize reward.  The ETF selection is essentially based on the research performed by Morningstar analysts.

It is nice to see that tax loss harvesting and automatic portfolio balancing is included and available for all accounts.  Finally as a socially responsible and environmentally aware person myself, I am glad to see that TDA offer a selection of five socially aware portfolio options so you can invest in alignment with your beliefs.

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Vanguard Personal Advisor Services – Great for Those Seeking A Personal Service.

ProsConsPerformance Rating: ★★★★
Fees AUM: 0.6%★ Offers both hybrid investors and robo advisors.✘ $50,000 minimum investment required.In line with S&P 500 avg returns
Hidden Fees: Fund Fees★ Clear fee schedule✘ Charges higher than average fees.Vanguard’ claims its US stock funds offer a 7.51% rate of return
★ Custom Financial Plans available.✘ Owned by a mutual-fund operator. So Vanguard has an incentive to push mutual funds.
Visit Vanguard★ Phone support available to US customers.✘ No details of security arrangements available.

 

Vanguard Personal Advisor Service Details

The Vanguard service approach is a people first solution with Robo management of the portfolio once established.  To access this service you will need to invest $50,000 from the beginning, which means that Vanguard is targetting affluent or those on the road to being affluent.  For this $50,000 you will get a personal advisor who will get to understand your needs, goals and risk profile and then construct a portfolio for you.  Once this is established the portfolio will be provided to you online so you can check the progress of your investment choices.  The reinvestment of your additional funds and tax loss harvesting is automated.

The personal touch costs more, with a yearly fee of 0.6% of assets under management and additional costs of the ETF/Mutual Fund fees, this is at the higher end of the cost spectrum of Robo Advisors.  This does not seem to matter to most as Vanguards is the largest Robo Advisor Service in the USA with over $100 billion in assets under management.  Finally, you can access your advisor via email or phone as you wish.

The Investing Methodology & Performance

As Vanguard is one of the largest providers of ETF’s and Mutual Funds, it, of course, selects its own funds to be part of your suggested portfolio.  This earns them fund management fees in addition to the 0.6% AUM fee for your account.  Vanguard does not claim to provide outsized returns it is really more focused on a higher level of customer service and the personalization of your portfolio based on your life goals.  Do not expect stellar profits, but do expect good customer service.

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Fidelity Go – Great for U.S. Investors Seeking an Established Name With Low Opening Balance

Fidelity Robo AdvisorProsConsPerformance Rating: N/A
Fees AUM: 0.35%★ No Minimum balance required to open accounts.✘ Higher than average fees.No Performance Data Available
Hidden Fees: Fund Fees★ Hybrid advisor services available.✘ The day-to-day investment trading decisions are made by 3rd party “Strategic Advisors LLC”
★ Open to any US resident over 18 years of age.✘ May automatically invest in fee-charging accounts like the Fidelity Government Reserves Fund.
Visit Fidelity★ Fidelity will offset some additional fees with a variable fee credit.✘ No banking services available.
★ You can start investing with as little $10.✘ No details of security arrangements available.

 

Fidelity Go Service Details

Fidelity Go is one of the smallest Robo Advisor services, but they are investing in growing their assets under management.  The service itself is relatively simple.  You select how much you want to invest per month and how aggressively balanced you want your portfolio and Fidelity will do the rest.  An aggressive portfolio allocation will balance in favor of US stocks 60%, foreign stock 25% and Bonds at 15%.  The most conservative balance would be for those nearing retirement with 20% US and international stocks, and 80% bonds and short-term cash.

Of course with Fidelity, you can always access their human personal financial advisory services for a fee.  Talking of fees, the costs of this account amount to 0.35% of your assets per year, plus any ETF fund fees according to your fund allocation.  For me, this is not the ideal mix of either personal service or intelligent performance driven Robo Advisory service.  Add to this the fact Fidelity do not even choose the assets to invest in, this is outsourced to a third party, it is overall a half-hearted attempt from Fidelity to enter a booming robo advisor market.

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Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – Good for Investors seeking the Security of an Established Player

ProsConsPerformance Rating: N/A
Fees:  ETF Fees★ No advisory fee and commissions on some accounts.✘ $5,000 minimum investment required.No Performance Data Available
Hidden Fees: None★ Hybrid advisors available.✘ Tax-loss harvesting only available on portfolios over $50,000.
★ A portion of the funds is held in an FDIC insured account at Schwab Bank.✘ Schwab admits to making money off sales ETFs and other investment products.
Visit Schwab★ A variety of accounts including IRAs, custodial accounts and trust accounts are available.✘ No details of security arrangements available.
★ Schwab claims its robo advisor can automatically re-balance accounts to lower risks.

 

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Service Details

Schwab is the second largest provider of Robo Advisory services in the USA with over $27 billion in assets under management.  Unlike the other behemoth Vanguard, Schwab does not charge you a fixed yearly fee for your assets under management, this is a bonus, instead, you will only have to pay for the exchange-traded fund fees.

There is no hybrid advisor option, the system is fully automated this helps reduce overall costs.

The Investing Methodology & Performance

Schwab makes no claims to portfolio performance, so you can expect performance to be lower than industry benchmarks like the S&P 500.  Typically a Schwab portfolio will consist of US stock ETF’s, international stock ETF’s. emerging market stock ETF’s, and Bonds.

Top 10 Robo Advisors Review Summary

In performing the hundreds of hours of research for this in-depth review I have also been on a learning journey.  Firstly Robo Advisory make a lot of sense for those people who want to invest but do not have the knowledge or time to thoroughly investigate every investment decision.  Secondly, optimizing your tax loss harvesting and automatic portfolio rebalancing are a serious advantage of these services and can amount to an impactful saving compounded over many years.

Lastly, having full access and transparency into the performance of your fund, and having your fund aligned to your beliefs is a seriously good step forward for the financial services industry.

In summary, I am very interested in Emperor Investing, can they really produce outsized market returns, something that no other provider claims to offer. In addition, M1 Finance hit the sweet spot in portfolio selection with its offering of 100 different professionally selected portfolios for you to choose from.  However, I like the Ellevest approach for a female-oriented service and Morgan Stanley ability to skew portfolios in favors of my investing and social preferences.

Robo Advisor Comparison List

Robo AdvisorProsCons% Fee AUMClaimed ReturnsOverall Rating
Emperor Invests★ Offers pure equity investing. Thus no funds or ETFs offered
★ Offers direct stock investing - you own the stock
★ Option for dividend re-balancing available.
★ Harvests All Dividends
★ Hybrid - Machine plus human research
★ $500 minimum balance
★ Tailored portfolios available
✘ No Tax Loss Harvesting Yet.0.60%16.85% over last 11 years
vs SP500 7.62%
★★★★★
Winner
M1 Finance★ Commission Free automated investing.
★ Allows you to buy fractional shares of any stock or fund.
★ American accounts are insured up to $250,000 by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
★ M1 Securities are insured for up to $500,000 by SIPC.
★ Military grade 4096-bit encryption and two-factor authentication for security.
★ Offers lines of credit.
★ Low minimum accounts balance of $500.
✘ Focused on US customers Only.
✘ No hybrid advisors available.
✘ Minimum balance $10,000
0%9.87% rate of return.
+/- 2% of the Benchmark
★★★★
SigFig★ Tax Loss Harvesting
★ Tax Optimized Sales
★ Investment Advisor Included
★ Sync to Investment Accounts
★ Solid 3 Year Returns
✘ Limited Platforms Supported0.25%+/- 1% Underlying Benchmark★★★★
 Wealthfront★ Offers free financial planning.
★ Easy to Use App
★ Allows Passive Investing
★ Offers tax-loss harvesting and other loss-mitigation strategies.
★ One low fee.
★ Low $500 minimum investment required.
✘ No hybrid advisors available.
✘ No human financial planning advice available.
✘ Completely automated strategies.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
0.25% Typically 1% lower than
Benchmark
★★★★
Betterment★ Offers hybrid advisor services.
★ No minimum investment needed.
★ Offers a variety of products including Trust Accounts.
★ Special services like tax-loss harvesting and socially responsible investing available.
★ Focused on smaller investors.
★ Focuses on retirement.
✘ Focuses on index funds rather than individual stocks.
✘ Could place some serious limits on investor choices and behavior.
✘ Claims to use “guardrails” to protect investors from themselves.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
0.25%5% higher returns than
the average US investor.
★★★★
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services★ Offers both hybrid investors and robo advisors.
★ Clear fee schedule
★ Custom Financial Plans available.
★ Low Fees
★ Phone support available to US customers.
✘ $50,000 minimum investment required.
✘ Charges higher than average fees.
✘ Owned by a mutual-fund operator. So Vanguard has an incentive to push mutual funds.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
0.30% + Fund FeesUS stock funds 7.51%
rate of return
★★★
qplum★ Fixed Fee No Hidden Charges
★ Free Consultations / Advice
★ No Transfer Fees
★ Solid Performance
★ Tax Loss Harvesting
✘ Not The Lowest Cost AUM0.5%+/- 2% of Underlying Index★★★
Personal Capital★ Harry Markowitz (Nobel Prize Winning Portfolio Manager)
★ Tools to Connect Your Different Financial Services
★ Personal Support & Financial Advisors
★ Social Impact Portfolios
★ $250 minimum investment required.
✘ High Fees< $1M - 0.89%
>$10M - 0.49%
+/- 1% Underlying Benchmark★★★
Zacks Advantage★ Tax Loss Harvesting for Balances > $50K
★ Actively Managed Fund
★ Very Broad Diversification
★ Full Consultation & Advice Included
✘ Higher Than Avg Fees
✘ $25K Min Balance
<$100K - 0.7%
>$250K - 0.35%
Within 1% of the
underlying Index
★★★
TIAA★ Banking & Loans Available
★ Investment Advisor Included
✘ No Tax Loss Harvesting
✘ Additional ETF Costs
0.3% + Fund FeesAll Portfolios 1% +/-
Benchmark
★★★
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios★ No advisory fee and commissions on some accounts.
★ Hybrid advisors available.
★ A portion of the funds is held in an FDIC insured account at Schwab Bank.
★ A variety of accounts including IRAs, custodial accounts and trust accounts are available.
★ Schwab claims its robo advisor can automatically re-balance accounts to lower risks.
✘ $5,000 minimum investment required.
✘ Tax-loss harvesting only available on portfolios over $50,000.
✘ Schwab admits to making money off sales ETFs and other investment products.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
ETF FeesNo Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
Fidelity Go★ No Minimum balance required to open accounts.
★ Hybrid advisor services available.
★ Open to any US resident over 18 years of age.
★ Fidelity will offset some additional fees with a variable fee credit.
★ You can start investing with as little $10.
✘ Higher than average fees.
✘ The day-to-day investment trading decisions are made by 3rd party "Strategic Advisors LLC"
✘ May automatically invest in fee charging accounts like the Fidelity Government Reserves Fund.
✘ No banking services available.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
0.35% + Fund FeesNo Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios★ Hybrid advisors available through professional Portfolio Management.
★ Socially aware investing available.
★ Personalized portfolios available.
★ Free tax-loss harvesting on all accounts.
✘ $5,000 minimum deposit required.
✘ No banking services or insured accounts available.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
0.30%No Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
Ellevest ★ $0 Minimum investment
★ Claims to be designed by women for women.
★ Female CEO Sallie Krawcheck
★ Claims investment algorithms are designed for women.
★ No penalty for withdrawals.
★ Offers algorithms that are supposedly tailored for a customer’s salary, gender, and lifespan.
★ Some hybrid services available on all accounts.
★ Private wealth management services available.
✘ Charges additional fees for hybrid advisory services.
✘ It is not clear if tax-loss harvesting is available.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
✘ Does not reveal the actual costs of the private wealth management services.
0.25%No Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
Robinhood★ Offers cryptocurrency investment.
★ Offers option and ETF investment.
★ Claims to be commission free.
★ Offers Stock Investment.
★ No minimum investment required.
✘ No hybrid advisors offered.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
✘ Robinhood shut down its cash management services in 2018 after critisicm accounts were not insured.
✘ Serious lack of transparency.
✘ Claims cash management services are coming soon
0%No Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
Motif Impact★ Offers curated selection of portfolios
★ Next Wave Portfolio 0% Commission
★ Thematic Portfolios 0.25% AUM
★ Social Impact Portfolio 0.5% AUM
★ $250 minimum investment required.
✘ Additional Trading Costs
✘ Cash Withdrawal Costs
✘ Many Other Fees
0.25% + Trade FeesNo Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
Building Benjamins★ 6 different portfolios offered
★ Claims Good Performance at Lowest Risk
✘ $50,000 Minimum Balance
✘ $800 per Consultation
✘ Additional Planning Costs $100/m
0.45%No Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
Sustainfolio★ 100% Sustainable Portolio
★ IRA, 401K, Joint & Trust Acocunts Avilable
✘ No Fund Performance Details
✘ Very Few Details of Methodology
0.5%No Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
United Income★ Goals Based Portfolio Allocation
★ Design for Retirees
★ Tax Loss Harvesting Included
★ Full Service Includes Human Advisor for 0.8% AUM
★ Monthly Paychack Service Available for Retirees
✘ No Fund Performance Details
✘ Expensive for The Sevrices Offered
0.5% - 0.80%No Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
Morgan Stanley Access Investing★ Offers a detailed investment plan.
★ Bases portfolios on an investors’ risk tolerance.
★ Algorithm runs thousands of simulations to forecast portfolio performance.
★ Hybrid advisors available.
✘ Higher than average fee.
✘ $5,000 minimum investment required.
✘ Simulations could offer unrealistic pictures of market performance
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
0.35%No Performance
Data Provided
Not Available
Table 1. List of Robo Advisors 2019 - Robo Advisors Performance & Fees Comparison Table

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