Top 20 List of Robo Advisor Performance & Fees Compared

We Compare The Performance, Fees & Pros/Cons of 20 of the Biggest & Newest Robo Advisors in the USA. Is Cost vs Performance Important To You?

There are many Robo Advisors available now, and the list is growing.  The automated provision of portfolio management tools and services is a fast expanding industry, but do they provide great performance?

Robo Advisor Performance

The simple fact is that most Robo Advisors, whether actively managed or passive funds, seldom beat the underlying reference benchmark.  Reviewing the excellent benchmarking performed by the team over at BackendBenchmarking one can see that the average 2-year performance of Robo Advisors was 0.87% lower than comparable benchmarks.  The worst performer was -2.05% and the best performer was -0.01%.  The facts speak for themselves, most Robo Advisors do not beat the market on performance.  But they do offer many advantages over investing your money yourself.

Robo Advisors Typically Do Not Beat The Market – But Here Are The Other Advantages

  1. Many Robo Advisors are tuned for optimal tax loss harvesting – saving you money
  2. Robo Advisors are tuned for automatic portfolio rotation & adjustment – saving you time
  3. Automatic balancing of a portfolio based on your risk profile – reducing your risk
  4. Provision of low-cost access to ETF’s & Mutual Funds – reducing trading costs
  5. Some Robo Advisors provide model portfolios for socially responsible investing
  6. Robo Advisors allow for gender or life-stage specific portfolios – providing a personalized portfolio
  7. All Robo Advisors provide instant access to your investment performance – transparency
  8. Hybrid Robo Advisors allow you to talk to a human account manager – the human touch

[Related Article: Are Robo Advisors A Good Idea? 8 Advantages Uncovered]

List of Robo Advisors Performance & Fees

Robo Advisor NameProsConsAnnual % Fee AUM FromPerformance DetailsPerformance 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
★ Higher than average annual fee
★ Hybrid - Machine plus human research
★ $500 minimum balance
★ Tailored portfolios available.
✘ No Tax Loss Harvesting Yet.
✘ No ETFs or mutual funds available.
✘ No details of security arrangements available.
0.60%Emperor claims to average 16.85% over last 11 years vs S&P 500 7.62%★★★★★
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%M1 claims its funds offer a 9.87% rate of return. Typically within 2% of the comparative 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%Betterment claims it offers 5% higher returns than the average US investor receives.★★★★
qplum★ Fixed Fee No Hidden Charges
★ Free Consultations / Advice
★ No Transfer Fees
★ Solid Performance
★ Tax Loss Harvesting
✘ Not The Lowest Cost AUM0.5%Typical +/- 2% of Underlying Index - Detailed Performance Reporting Available★★★★
SigFig★ Tax Loss Harvesting
★ Tax Optimized Sales
★ Investment Advisor Included
★ Sync to Investment Accounts
★ Solid 3 Year Returns
✘ Limited Platforms Supported0.25%Since Inception All Portfolios Within 1% +/- Underlying Benchmark★★★★
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%
Since Inception All Portfolios Within 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 comparative Benchmark★★★★
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 FeesDepends on the funds. However, Vanguard’ claims its US stock funds offer a 7.51% rate of return - in line with S&P 500 avg returns
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 FeesSince Inception All Portfolios Within 1% +/- Underlying 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot 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 By FirmNot Available
Table 1. List of Robo Advisors 2019 - Robo Advisors Performance & Fees Comparison Table

[Related Article: Top 10 Robo Advisors Compared]

The Ultimate Robo Advisor Guide
The Ultimate Robo Advisor Guide


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