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The Best Robo Advisors of 2021

If you’ve avoided investing because it seemed costly and complicated, you’ll be happy to hear that both of these problems have been solved with the emergence of robo advisors.

The terms “robo advisor” and “automated investment manager” may sound high-tech, but the idea is actually quite simple. Investment companies are now using AI-powered financial advisors to help you select and invest in stocks, retirement accounts, and mutual funds.

The best robo advisors have quickly become mainstream, replacing the human financial advisors who have traditionally done this work. Robo advisors have helped expand the market for consumers looking for low-cost financial advice.

Explore Fortunly's robo advisor reviews below and find the best option for your needs.

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The 9 Best Robo Advisors

1. M1 Finance

Launched in 2015, M1 Finance can be described as the future of financial advice, as it combines all the benefits of automated portfolio management with the level of control investors have in a traditional brokerage account. READ REVIEW

Options to trade fractional shares

No asset management fees

Flexible portfolio building

Open Account

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Account minimum:

$100 (non-retirement accounts); $500 (IRAs)

Account management fee:

0%

Investment expense ratios:

0.06% to 0.20% of ETFs annually

2. Wealthfront

Founded in 2008, Wealthfront is a goal-based robo advisor that provides automatic portfolio rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting, and an excellent selection of investment account types. The company charges some of the industry’s lowest fees and its services appeal to both new and experienced investors.READ REVIEW

Daily tax-loss harvesting

Low ETF expense ratios

Automatic portfolio rebalancing

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Account minimum:

$500 (investment accounts); $1 (cash accounts)

Account management fee:

0.25% monthly

Investment expense ratios:

0.07%-0.16% of ETFs annually

3. Betterment

Considered one of the industry’s top players, Betterment offers two robo advising service plans, financial planning tools, tax-loss harvesting, portfolio rebalancing, robust financial planning tools, access to a human advisor, and the ability to sync external accounts and receive advice on them. READ REVIEW

Multiple investment strategies

Ability to sync external accounts

Useful goal-based tools

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Account minimum:

$0 (Betterment Digital); $100,000 (Betterment Premium)

Account management fee:

0.25% monthly for Betterment Digital, 0.40% monthly for Betterment Premium

Investment expense ratios:

0.07%-0.17% of ETFs annually

4. Sofi

Popular for its lending products, SoFi is a newcomer to the realm of robo advice. However, thanks to its lack of fees, access to low-cost ETFs, goal-based planning tools, automatic portfolio rebalancing, and human advisors, the company has quickly established itself as one of the top players. READ REVIEW

Wide range of low-cost investment options

Access to a team of certified financial planners

Free account management

Open Account

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Account minimum:

$0

Account management fee:

0%

Investment expense ratios:

0.03% to 0.08% of ETFs annually

5. Ellevest

Launched in 2017, Ellevest was created to help overcome gender wage gaps. Although it was designed with female investors in mind, the platform accepts applicants of all gender identities. Well-known for its goal-based approach to investing and unique pricing plans, Ellevest offers an excellent overall user experience. READ REVIEW

Goal-focused approach to investing

Portfolio mix that takes women’s needs into account

Access to financial coaches and CFPs

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Account minimum:

$0

Account management fee:

$1-$9 monthly

Investment expense ratios:

0.05% - 0.10% on core portfolios; 0.13% - 0.19% on impact portfolios

6. Blooom

Virtually the only robo advisor that manages 401(k)s, Blooom is a go-to solution for investors who need help making the most of their workplace retirement plans. The platform also features investment management services for various types of IRAs and a simple pricing policy. READ REVIEW

IRA and 401(k) management

No investment minimums

Access to financial advisors

Open Account

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Account minimum:

$0

Account management fee:

$45-$250 annually

Investment expense ratios:

Not stated

7. Acorns

Designed to help beginning traders make smart investment decisions and save money for future goals, Acorns is an all-in-one micro-savings and micro-investing app. It uses modern portfolio theory to create optimized portfolios and it keeps them on track with dividend reinvestments and automatic rebalancing.READ REVIEW

Spare change is invested automatically

Cash back at more than 350 retailers

Special features for kids’ accounts

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Account minimum:

$0 to open an account; $5 to start investing

Account management fee:

$1-$5 monthly

Investment expense ratios:

0.18% or less

8. Personal Capital

Launched in 2009, Personal Capital is a digital asset management company that offers personalized advice from financial planners. Although it is tailored to high net worth traders, Personal Capital’s robo advising is also appealing to new investors. READ REVIEW

Access to financial advisors

Comprehensive investment management and retirement planning tools

Advanced tax optimization strategies

Open Account

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Account minimum:

Depends on the type of service

Account management fee:

$1-$5 monthly

Investment expense ratios:

0.08% (average)

9. Interactive Advisors

Interactive Advisors is a robo advisory service developed by Interactive Brokers to make trading easier, more transparent, and more efficient. Although the company aims to simplify investing, the target audience is experienced traders looking for a wide range of securitie options.READ REVIEW

Wide range of portfolios

Option to upgrade to an Interactive Brokers Universal Account

Plenty of educational resources

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Account minimum:

$100 or $1,000 (depends on the portfolio)

Account management fee:

0.08% to 1.5% of assets under management per year

Investment expense ratios:

Not stated

Picking the Right Robo Financial Advisor: Our Methodology

Determining which robo advisor is the best fit for you depends on factors like your current portfolio, your investment goals, and your preferences in regard to having access to a human advisor. We considered these factors along with fees and features to come up with a list of the market’s top players. Here’s a more detailed overview of our evaluation metrics.

Account Types

Investment accounts come in many types, individual and joint brokerage accounts, trusts, and more. Given that each account type offers different benefits, it’s important to determine which option best suits your goals and needs before signing up with a robo investment advisor.

Investment Strategies

Like traditional financial advisors, automated investing platforms instruct clients to base investment choices on factors such as how much risk they can comfortably bear, the level of returns they want, and when they might need the money. Based on these factors, robo advisors design a portfolio of stocks, exchange-traded funds, and other instruments using proven investment-management strategies.

Some providers let their clients adjust goals and risk levels after the initial investment strategy is done.

As extensive research has revealed that portfolio diversification reduces risk and increases returns, most robo advisors employ Modern Portfolio Theory to create and manage clients’ investment portfolios. Here’s a simple example of the best way to invest money according to MPT: Instead of investing everything in a single fund, robo advisors usually create diversified portfolios for clients. MPT is a framework that is intended to help financial advisors balance the client’s desire for a good return on their investments with their aversion to risk-taking.

Additional Services

Each provider on our list of online robo advisors offers a few services. These can include the following features:

Goal-planning tools

Assistance for setting financial goals and tracking progress toward reaching those goals is one of the most important features offered by the robo advisor industry’s top competitors. The best providers even send reminders to help put you back on track should you drift away.

Certified financial planners

A CFP is a finance specialist who possesses rigorous certification for demonstrating knowledge in financial planning. CFPs often have years of experience, and combining their knowledge with the sophisticated algorithms of an automatic investing platform is one of the best ways to approach the complex world of investing. Top-rated robo advisors offer the services of CFPs fee-free to their clients.

Tax-loss harvesting

Tax-loss harvesting is a tax-minimization strategy that focuses on selling assets that drop in value to offset a capital gains tax liability. Typically employed to limit the recognition of short-term capital gains, which are taxed at a higher rate than long-term gains, this technique helps lower the investor’s overall tax liability. If done properly, tax-loss harvesting can maximize your financial gains in the long run. The best robo advisers offer this service at no cost.

Borrowing against your portfolio

Most of the providers on our list offer securities-based lending. In other words, robo advisor companies let their clients take out a loan (usually in the form of a line of credit) using their investments as collateral. The best thing about this type of borrowing is that approvals can be very fast and the cost can be quite low. It’s a good source of quick cash.

Fees and Commissions

One of the biggest advantages of robo investing advisors is that their services can be much less expensive than those of an in-person financial advisor.

While the charges vary from company to company, typically there are two major components that determine the costs of a robo advisor.

Management fee: This fee is usually paid on a yearly or monthly basis, and it ranges from 0.25% to 0.5% of assets per year. For example, a $10,000 investment account might be charged an annual management fee of $25 to $50. Some providers may impose higher or lower charges.

Investment expense ratios: The robo broker you choose to work with may invest your money in funds that charge fees based on your holdings. These costs can vary, but usually average between 0.05% and 0.65% of the assets, incurring a $5 to $65 annual fee for every $10,000 invested.

Transactions – buying and selling funds, moving money out of your account, or changing your asset allocation – shouldn’t incur any cost. Still, before opening an account with a robo advisor, make sure that you’re fully aware of all the fees the company may charge you.

Lastly, when doing robo advisor comparison in respect to cost, we also suggest you take minimum initial deposit requirements into account.

Customer Service

Robo advisors with quick-to-respond and knowledgeable customer support representatives are great. Especially if the customer-service agents have extended working hours and can be contacted via multiple avenues of support. Just because they favor a tech-first approach, it doesn’t mean that robo advisors can’t offer attentive customer service.

Further Reading

Top Robo Advisors for 2021

  • M1 Finance

    - Best for flexible portfolio building
  • Wealthfront

    - Best for automatic portfolio rebalancing
  • Betterment

    - Best for multiple investment strategies
  • SoFi

    - Best for low-cost investment options
  • Ellevest

    - Best for goal-based investing.
  • Blooom

    - Best for managing a 401(k) account.
  • Acorns

    - Best if you have a hard time saving money.
  • Personal Capital

    - Best if you are an experienced investor.
  • Interactive Advisors

    - Best if you value a large investment selection.

Best Robo Investment Advisors - Our Picks

Operating since 2015, M1 Finance can be described as a hybrid between a robo advisor and a traditional brokerage. With this provider, clients get all the benefits of automated portfolio management without having to give up on the control they would have with a traditional brokerage account.

If you don’t mind a hands-off approach – but would still like to be more involved in the decision-making process – M1 Finance may be a perfect fit.

Account Types

With M1 Finance, you can open an individual or joint taxable account; a retirement account such as a traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA; or a trust.

Investment Strategies

Getting Started

The Pie, M1 Finance’s unique approach to building and managing clients’ portfolios, is essentially a simple, transparent way to look at asset allocation. Here’s how it works. First of all, you’ll be asked to choose individual investments and add them to your pie (one stock equals one “slice” of the pie).

Then you’ll need to define how much of your portfolio you want to be dedicated to each slice (expressed in percentages). Next, you’ll fund your account. From there, you’ll be able to follow the performance of your portfolio and see it rebalance automatically. One of the best things about this robo advisor app is that it’ll also let you add, remove, and edit your slices.

Portfolio Management

M1 Finance has a huge selection of ETFs and stocks to choose from – nearly 2,000 ETFs and any individual stocks available on the Nasdaq or the York Stock Exchange. Considering that you can opt for any investment traded on these major exchanges, you are left with an almost endless supply of options.

One of the nicest things about working with this robo advisor platform is that the company lets you use fractional shares so that every single penny in your account can be invested.

Additional Services

Automation

One of M1 Finance’s biggest selling points is that it’s big on automating all the things that most investors don’t enjoy doing on their own. For example, this robo advisor lets you set up recurring investments, it rebalances your portfolio automatically, it offers built-in tax efficiency, and it controls your cash balance.

M1 Borrow

One of the newest features available to M1 Finance clients, M1 Borrow is a program that lets you borrow up to 35% of the value of your portfolio at a competitive 3.75% interest rate. To put it simply – if you have $100,000 in your account, you can take out a loan up to $35,000 at a very low rate. Note that you’ll need to have a margin brokerage account with a minimum of $25,000 in it to be eligible for this service.

Fees and Commissions

As one of the cheapest robo advisors, M1 Finance doesn’t charge trading or monthly management fees. There are charges for deposits or withdrawals to a linked bank account, however. And regulatory and additional service fees (such as IRA conversion fees) may apply.

Stock-only accounts do not incur any asset management fees. However, portfolios with ETF holdings can incur management costs on the underlying funds that range between 0.06% and 0.20%.

If you like the idea of a second daily trading window and a discount on interest rates when borrowing against the value of your portfolio, you can sign up for the robo advisor’s Plus account. This service will cost $100 in the first year and $125 per year thereafter.

Customer Support

Should you have any burning questions or run into any problems with your accounts, the options to get your answers include exploring the site’s comprehensive library of FAQs and requesting help from a customer-service agent by submitting a contact form. Customer support representatives are available from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Eastern time.

The Bottom Line

M1 Finance may not offer mutual fund investing or tax-loss harvesting, and it is not the best choice for active traders. However, it’s still one of the best robo financial advisors we’ve come across. It charges no commissions, its fees are low, and the platform is incredibly easy to use.

Reasons to Buy

Options to trade fractional shares

No asset management fees

Flexible portfolio building

Launched in 2008, Wealthfront has quickly established itself as one of the market’s biggest robo advisors. The company’s automated investment management and holistic financial advice appeal to both new and experienced investors.

Multiple tax-optimization strategies, low fees, and free financial planning guides make Wealthfront worthy of consideration, especially since you don’t need lots of experience or a huge amount of money to get started.

Account Types

Wealthfront offers traditional, Roth, SEP, and rollover IRAs; individual and joint non-retirement accounts; 529 college savings plans; trusts; and cash accounts.

Investment Strategies

Designed to meet the needs of both hands-off investors who want expert guidance and hands-on investors who need help making smarter decisions, Wealthfront’s investment management is automated but also strategic and adjusted to each client’s individual risk levels.

Getting Started

When starting your robo portfolio management relationship with Wealthfront, you’ll be asked to provide some basic information. The website will inquire after personal information, and then ask about how much you have in savings and what your pre-tax income is.

Then you’ll be given an opportunity to choose your investment goal – this can be anything from long-term investing to retirement or college savings. Lastly, to assess your risk tolerance, Wealthfront will require you to complete a short questionnaire.

Portfolio Management

After assessing your level of risk tolerance, the Wealthfront robo advisor proceeds with building a diversified portfolio with up to 11 asset classes (most portfolios include six to eight asset classes). Wealthfront’s investment options cover US and foreign stocks, dividend stocks, real estate, natural resources, emerging market bonds, US government bonds, corporate bonds, and Treasury inflation-protected securities.

The robo advisor primarily uses low-cost exchange-traded funds, while investors with six-figure investments can opt for a stock portfolio.

From there, the process is completely automated. The software may rebalance your portfolio when money is deposited or withdrawn, dividends are reinvested, or market fluctuations make it necessary.

One of the best things about Wealthfront is that it uses threshold-based rebalancing. In other words, portfolios are rebalanced each time an asset class crosses a predetermined threshold, rather than on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly schedule.

There are no options to get in touch with a human advisor. Still, given that the Wealthfront’s robo advisor software does a great job in creating and managing personalized portfolios, this isn’t a major disadvantage.

Additional Services

Tax-Loss Harvesting

As one of the best robo advisor tools, Wealthfront offers daily tax-loss harvesting on all taxable account types. New account holders who transfer in assets may find the company’s tax-minimized brokerage account transfer service useful. Accounts with balances of at least $100,000 are also eligible for stock-level tax-loss harvesting.

Goal Planning

What makes Wealthfront really stand out from the competition in the context of additional services is its robust set of financial planning tools. These tools come free of charge even if Wealthfront isn’t managing your assets. They can help you plan for life events such as buying a home, paying for college, retiring, and traveling.

Cash Account

In addition to multiple investment account options, Weatlhfront also offers cash accounts. Defined by the provider as a good place to earn interest on the funds you don’t want to invest, these FDIC-insured accounts come with an impressive 0.35% APY.

Line of credit

Clients with $25,000 or more in their accounts can borrow against their portfolios by opening a line of credit. Wealthfront lets you take out up to 30% of the value of your portfolio at rates that currently range from 3.9% to 5.15%. You won’t be asked to fill out an application, undergo a credit check, or pay any additional fees.

Fees and Commissions

As one of the top robo advisors, Wealthfront has a competitive and easy-to-understand fee structure. Investment account holders are charged 0.25% of their portfolios on a monthly basis. Note that larger portfolios (over $100,000) may be invested in funds that incur slightly higher fees. Exchange-traded funds make up most of the portfolios Wealthfront manages. They come with annual management fees of 0.07%-0.16%.

To open an investment account with Wealthfront, you’ll be required to deposit a minimum of $500, while the minimum for a cash account is $1.
Automatic portfolio rebalancing is free on all accounts, and so is linking your retirement and bank accounts to the company’s signature financial planning tool, Path.

Customer Support

Almost all interactions with Wealthfront customer-service agents are conducted electronically. In addition to the comprehensive library of frequently asked questions and answers, Wealthfront’s account holders can also get in touch with the customer-service team via phone and email. Support agents are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time.

The Bottom Line

As one of the best-performing robo advisor companies, Wealthfront offers goal-based investing and helps its clients understand how the financial choices they make today may affect their futures. This robo advisor also provides tax-loss harvesting and automatic portfolio rebalancing.

It supports a good selection of investment account types, and the fees on its ETFs are among the market’s lowest. The company doesn’t buy fractional shares, which may prevent it from investing your entire deposit; however, it offers a good deal on an FDIC-insured cash account.

Reasons to Buy

Daily tax-loss harvesting

Low ETF expense ratios

Automatic portfolio rebalancing

Launched more than a decade ago, Betterment has set the standard for robo advisory services, and it remains one of the industry’s top players. This automated investing platform offers tax-loss harvesting, portfolio rebalancing, robust financial planning tools, and the option to buy fractional shares so that all the money in your account can be invested.

Betterment’s platform is incredibly easy to use, and it even lets you sync external accounts to receive advice on them. Customers who opt for the Premium plan get access to a human advisor too.

Account Types

Betterment offers individual and joint non-retirement accounts; traditional, rollover, SEP, and Roth IRA accounts; trusts; and cash accounts. The company also lets you link your external account for personalized advice and guidance but won’t directly manage these accounts.

Investment Strategies

Like other robo advisor firms, Betterment employs Modern Portfolio Theory to create and manage clients’ investment portfolios. What makes this type of investment strategy unique is the emphasis on diversification and asset allocation based on predetermined risk levels.

Getting Started

Opening an investment account with Betterment is quick and easy. All you have to do is provide some basic information and fill out a questionnaire that determines your time horizons, risk tolerance, and investment goals. Based on that information, a personalized portfolio will be designed for you. Depending on your risk-tolerance assessment, you’ll be offered a conservative portfolio (predominantly consisting of bonds), or an aggressive portfolio (fewer bonds, more stocks).

Portfolio Management

This automated financial advisor uses ETFs that represent about 12 asset classes for different investment goals and levels of risk tolerance. Another good thing about Betterment is that it lets its clients adjust the percentage of money invested in any particular exchange-traded fund if they want a bit more control over their investment portfolios.

In addition to the standard portfolio, there are a few more options to choose from: a “smart beta” portfolio that embraces systematic risks and seeks higher-than-average returns, a bond-heavy income portfolio, and a socially responsible portfolio.

Once your portfolio has been created, it will be fully managed by Betterment’s robo advising software. To keep each asset class in line with the target investment percentage, the company will provide periodic portfolio rebalancing. This online investment advisor will also reinvest dividends in accordance with your portfolio’s targets.

Additional Services

Tax-Loss Harvesting

Betterment performs tax-loss harvesting on all taxable accounts. In other words, the robo advisor sells off losing asset positions near the end of the year, aiming to offset gains in other asset classes.

Financial Planning Tools

The company offers multiple tools and calculators that help clients choose the right accounts, set investment goals, and make smarter money decisions.

Human Financial Advisor

Unlike most of its competitors, Betterment provides the services of certified financial advisors for account holders with balances over $100,000. Offered as a part of the robo advisor’s Premium plan, this service comes at a fraction of the 1% to 2% fee typically charged by traditional financial advising specialists.

Fees and Commissions

Betterment’s robo advising service comes in the form of two plans. If you opt for the Digital plan, you’ll be charged a 0.25% annual management fee in return for access to the company’s standard offering and the option to get in touch with an advisor via mobile messaging.

To apply for the Premium option, which comes with a 0.40% annual management fee, you’ll need to have a balance of at least $100,000. This plan comes with all the features included in the Digital option plus unlimited calls to Betterment’s team of certified financial planners.

ETF expense ratios range from 0.07% to 0.17%, assessed annually. There are no additional account charges.

Customer Support

Should you require assistance, you can get in touch with the robo adviser’s support team via phone or email from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday. There’s also a live chat option (available on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET), but it’s offered only to Betterment’s current existing clients.

The Bottom Line

A clear leader among robo financial advisors, Betterment offers two service plans – the Digital option for inexperienced investors and the Premium plan for those who prefer self-directed investing combined with professional management.

The company’s goal-oriented tools and multiple portfolio options appeal to both retirement and non-retirement investors, and the human advisor offering is very affordable compared with other hybrid and traditional financial advisors.

Reasons to Buy

Multiple investment strategies

Ability to sync external accounts

Useful goal-based tools

Well-known for its lending products, SoFi is a new kid on the block when it comes to robo advising. This doesn’t mean that SoFi Automated Investing can’t compete with the industry’s top players. As one of the best robo investment advisors, the company doesn’t charge administrative or advisory fees, and it provides access to low-cost ETFs.

To top it off, SoFi’s service includes unlimited access to a team of CFPs along with complimentary career coaching.

Account Types

SoFi’s account offerings are somewhat limited compared to those offered by competitors. Options include retirement accounts such as traditional, Roth, SEP, and rollover IRAs, along with individual and joint non-retirement accounts.

Investment Strategies

SoFi Automated Investing offers an excellent platform for cost-conscious investors who are just starting out and thus favor a hands-off approach. Like other robo advisors, the company offers competitively priced diversified portfolios.

Getting Started

Setting up an account with SoFi is quick and easy. While new clients are asked to provide basic personal and asset information, there are no inquiries related to your market experience or risk tolerance.

The automated investing platform picks one of the model portfolios based on your investment objectives. However, prospective clients can override the robo advisor’s suggestion and choose their own risk profile. Getting in touch with a human advisor is also an option at this point.

Portfolio Management

Based on investment objectives and risk tolerance, SoFi’s clients can choose from a selection of 10 model portfolios. Each option comes with a diversified selection of low-cost ETFs, which mostly consist of international stocks, US stocks, and real estate, high-yield, and Treasury bonds.

Much like most other online investment advisors, SoFi Automated Investing provides automatic portfolio rebalancing. Each time money enters or leaves your investment account, the robo advisor checks to see if your portfolio has drifted away from predetermined target allocation. If it has, it rebalances your portfolio automatically.

Additional Services

Financial Planning

What makes SoFi really stand out from the competition is that in addition to automated investment tools, all of its clients have unlimited access to the company’s team of certified financial advisors at no extra charge.

Special Bonuses

As one of the best robo advisors in the financial industry, SoFi offers special bonuses to clients. These include such things as access to members-only social events and complimentary career coaching. As this company’s client, you can also get reduced rates on student loans and mortgages that are provided by SoFi. To become eligible for these special perks, all you have to do is invest at least $20 each month.

Fees and Commissions

As far as costs go, SoFi is one of the most investor-friendly providers on our list of robo advisors. Unlike its rivals, the company charges no monthly management fees. Additionally, there are no administrative charges for transferring money or closing accounts. Portfolio expense ratios are also very low, ranging from 0.03% to 0.08% of assets under management.

Customer Support

Inexperienced investors – or those simply looking to access certified professionals – will be happy to hear that there are multiple ways to get in touch with SoFi’s financial advisors. You can schedule a phone or video call between the hours of 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Thursday, and from 5 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Fridays.

Should you require assistance with technical issues, the automated advisor’s customer service agents will be there to help you from 4 a.m. until 9 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Thursday and from 4 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Fridays. Support channels include phone, email, and Twitter.

The Bottom Line

A relative newcomer to the robo advisor industry, SoFi Automated Investing stands out from the crowd for its incredibly investor-friendly service. To help you reach your financial objectives, the automated advisor offers robust goal-based planning tools and automatic portfolio rebalancing – everything you need except perhaps tax-loss harvesting.

In addition to automated investment services, SoFi’s clients get access to a financial advisor, discounts on other financial products offered by the company, and fee-free career advice.

 

Reasons to Buy

Wide range of low-cost investment options

Access to a team of certified financial planners

Free account management

Launched in 2017, Ellevest is designed to meet the needs of female investors. Although it was created to help women overcome gender wage gaps, this robo investment advisor accepts clients of any gender identity and expression. Ellevest uses a proprietary algorithm to identify financial targets and determine the best achievement strategies for each client’s specific needs.

Unlike most of its competitors, this stock investing platform uses gender-specific salary curves and longevity data to forecast financial goals and provide personalized recommendations.

Account Types

As one of the best robo advisors, Ellevest offers several types of investment accounts. Clients who choose the Essential plan can open only individual taxable accounts, while those who go for the Plus or Executive plans can choose among traditional, SEP, and Roth IRAs. Ellevest doesn’t offer joint taxable accounts.

Investment Strategies

Getting Started

Starting your robo investing journey with Ellevest is relatively easy. In addition to providing your basic personal data, you’ll be required to choose among the three subscription plans fairly early in the registration process. At this point, you may still be unsure about what you want from a robo trading platform, so you might find this requirement premature.

From there, you’ll be required to link an eligible bank account. Then the platform will ask you a few questions related to your household income. You’ll also need to enter estimates of your balances in checking and savings accounts, 401(k)s, IRAs, and taxable accounts to help Ellevest get a complete picture of your assets.

After that, you can choose investment goals such as retirement, starting your own business, or a down payment on a house. Ellevest lets you invest in multiple goals at once. As a strong candidate for best online financial advisor, the platform will suggest totals for your goals and allow you to review them and adjust your risk level.

Once you approve the goals for your account, you’ll be able to see the specific ETFs and mutual funds Ellevist recommends before making a decision. Ellevest portfolios consist of a mix of ETFs that cover more than 20 asset classes. For its standard portfolios, the company chooses from 20 ETFs, while impact portfolios draw from 27 ETFs and mutual funds.

Portfolio Management

Unlike most other robo advisors for stock market investing, Ellevest focuses on creating specific target allocations for each portfolio. In other words, the platform selects more aggressive funds for long-term investment goals and more conservative options for the short term.

As one of the best robo stock advisors, Ellevest gives clients a certain level of control over how aggressively their money is invested and allows them to adjust their exposure up or down (between 5% or 10%, depending on the investment goal).

Whenever the portfolio drifts away from its target allocation, the platform makes sure to rebalance the investments automatically.

Additional Services

Financial Planning

While anyone can purchase CFP services or coaching sessions through Ellevest’s website, members get access to professional financial help at a lower price. You can get a one-time session on budgeting, unlimited access to a certified financial planner, and everything in between with a 20%, 30%, or 50% discount based on your membership plan.

Educational Resources

As one of the best robo advisors for beginners, Ellevest offers all members free digital workshops led by its team of coaches. Investors receive personalized progress reports with useful advice on how to keep their goals on track plus access to a huge library of videos, articles, and how-to guides.

Fees and Commissions

As of June 2020, Ellevest stopped charging a percentage of assets under management to new investors. Instead, the company introduced Money Memberships, a tiered pricing structure with flat monthly fees. The company’s robo advisor fees start at just $1 per month if you sign up for the Ellevest Essential plan, which lets you set a single goal.

To open any type of IRA, you must go with Ellevest Plus ($5 per month). If you’d like to pursue up to six investment goals, the Executive plan ($9 per month) is your only option.

Customer Support

You can get in touch with customer service via email or by phone. While the hours for phone support are limited (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time), customer service agents are knowledgeable and quick to respond. You can also request help by sending a text message or by getting in touch with the robo advisor’s agents via Facebook Messenger.

The Bottom Line

Even though Ellevest welcomes all investors, it is an especially good choice for women with multiple goals in mind. The fact that its algorithm takes the salary curve and lifespan of each client’s gender profile into account is refreshing, and so is the pricing policy. Beginning investors will appreciate the comprehensive library of educational resources and access to a team of CFPs.

Reasons to Buy

Goal-focused approach to investing

Portfolio mix that takes women’s needs into account

Access to financial coaches and CFPs

At a Glance

  • IRA and 401(k) management
  • No investment minimums
  • Access to financial advisors

Launched in 2013, Blooom quickly became known as one of the best robo advisors for retirement accounts. The Kansas-based company stands out from the competition thanks to its focus on managing employer-sponsored retirement plans and individual retirement accounts.

While most robo advisors also manage IRAs, Blooom is practically the only one that provides investment management for 401(k)s. Blooom found a way to fill an overlooked niche and now has more than $3 billion in assets under management.

Account Types

Blooom is easily the best investment advisor for an IRA or an employer-sponsored plan. The list of supported accounts includes traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, spousal IRAs, and nondeductible IRAs along with 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s, 401(a)s, and thrift savings plans.

Investment Strategies

Getting Started

The sign-up process is simple. Start by linking Blooom with your retirement account. It doesn’t matter whether that’s an IRA or an employer-sponsored plan. Next, you’ll be required to answer a few simple questions about yourself. As soon as you verify your account, Blooom will analyze your situation and make investment recommendations. You’ll then be ready to start your automated investing journey.

Unlike most of its competitors, this robo advisor only manages investment accounts and doesn’t take control of them, so you won’t need your employer’s approval to sign up for the service.

Portfolio Management

Blooom will create your portfolio based on your current age, projected retirement age, and risk tolerance profile. Both the retirement age and the risk tolerance level will be determined when you apply, but you can make adjustments to your portfolio at a later stage.

As the best robo advisor for an IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan, Blooom employs multiple investment strategies. Individual stock exposure isn’t a part of this robo advisor’s approach, and such investment positions may be excluded from its management or sold for reallocation.

Additionally, the platform may sell your current investments and use the cash to buy the recommended positions (this is true only for IRAs). Blooom makes sure to rebalance your portfolio regularly and minimize hidden investment fees while providing financial advice and alerting you in case of suspicious activity.

Fees and Commissions

When you compare robo advisors, you’ll find that Blooom’s pricing policy is simple and unique. Instead of a percentage fee on the balance of your account, the company charges a single annual fee that’s determined by the pricing tier you choose.

Blooom offers three service plans. Priced at $45 per year, the Essentials plan allows you to personalize your portfolio and minimize hidden investment fees. The Standard plan costs $120 per year. It offers withdrawal alerts, automatic optimization of your accounts, and access to a financial advisor. As one of the best robo advisors, Blooom also offers an option that includes unlimited accounts. The

Unlimited plan comes with a $250 annual fee and offers all of the benefits of the lower two tiers along with priority access to advisors.

Before you commit to a fee, Blooom will perform a free analysis of your plan. Also, keep in mind that you’ll be asked to put a credit card on file as management service fees can’t be deducted from your investment balance.

Additional Services

Automatic Portfolio Optimization

One of the best things about investing in an automated portfolio is periodic auto-optimization. This feature helps keep your investments on track as your allocation changes with the market. Blooom makes sure to rebalance your portfolio every 95 days if necessary.

Account Protection

Blooom doesn’t take custody of your IRA or your retirement plan. Instead, the funds remain with a custodian under appropriate financial protection. Considering that Blooom is a fiduciary, the company is required to act in clients’ best interest.

Customer Service

You can get in touch with Blooom’s support representatives via email or live chat. Working hours are from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Central time on workdays. Should you encounter issues or problems, you can rest assured that this robo advisor will review your request for assistance promptly.

The Bottom Line

If you’re on the hunt for the best solution to manage your employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA, Blooom is an excellent choice. In fact, this robo advisor may be your only option, since it’s the only company on Fortunly’s recommended list that offers such services for workplace retirement plans.

Since the company’s robo investing features include personalized portfolio management and the minimization of investment fees, you’ll be able to get on with your life knowing that you’ve put your retirement plan in good hands.

Reasons to Buy

IRA and 401(k) management

No investment minimums

Access to financial advisors

At a Glance

  • Account minimum: $0 to open an account; $5 to start investing
  • Account management fee: $1-$5 monthly
  • Investment expense ratios: 0.18% or less

Acorns seeks to modernize the practice of saving loose change for those who are struggling to put money aside. The company’s unique platform combines an automated savings tool with a robo advisory model. The Acorns approach is simple – the platform rounds up your purchases on linked debit or credit cards and sweeps the change into an automated investment portfolio.

Account Types

Acorns is an excellent choice for hands-off investors, complete beginners, and non-savers. The company manages individual non-retirement accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, and children’s accounts in accord with the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act and the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act.

Investment Strategies

Getting Started

Signing up with Acorns is incredibly easy. All you have to do is provide some personal information and choose a pricing plan. Once you have your account, you’ll be ready to download the Acorns robo investing app and manage your money whenever and wherever you are.

Portfolio Management

Before starting your investment journey, you’ll need to answer a few questions about your comfort level with risk, your investment goals, and the time you have to achieve these goals. After gathering this information, Acorns will suggest a diversified investment portfolio that fits your profile. While you are not obligated to accept the robo advisor’s suggestion, note that there are only five portfolio options to choose from.

Once you decide on the solution that best fits your needs, you’ll proceed by informing your robo broker about how much to invest. You can invest a lump sum of as little as $5, set up a recurring investment from your checking account, or combine the two approaches. From there, Acorns will take care of everything by reinvesting dividends and rebalancing your portfolio automatically.

Fees and Commissions

When it comes to pricing, Acorns doesn’t disappoint. There are three plans: Lite, Personal, and Family. Based on our robo advisor fee comparison, this provider offers one of the best deals for unlimited investing, regardless of the plan you choose.

The Lite plan costs $1 per month and lets you invest spare change (the round-ups feature), earn bonus investments (the found money feature), and grow your knowledge using the platform’s educational resources.

For $3 per month, the Acorns Personal plan offers an all-in-one investment, retirement, and checking account along with a metal debit card, the ability to earn bonus investments, and access to comprehensive money advice.

As one of the best investment apps, Acorns also offer an option for those who’d like to start teaching their kids how to save money. The Family plan comes with a $5 monthly price tag and offers everything included in the lower two tiers while adding a feature called Early, a tax-advantaged investment account for children.

Additional Services

Round-Ups

The Acorns round-ups feature lets you link your credit and debit cards to the Acorns app, which rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar and invests the change. The platform doesn’t make an investment each time you make a purchase. It waits until the spare change meets the $5 threshold, and then it withdraws the amount from your checking account and invests it automatically.

Found Money

As one of the best robo investment advisors, Acorns has another unique feature: found money. Each time you make a purchase within Acorns’ network of more than 350 partners, including Airbnb, Expedia, Walmart, Nike, and Sephora, a little cashback will land in your investment account.

Customer Support

You can get in touch with the Acorns customer-service team via phone, email, and a contact form. Support representatives are available 24/7. They are quick to respond and very knowledgeable. You can also go through the site’s comprehensive help page if you don’t feel like contacting a support representative.

The Bottom Line

Although Acorns isn’t a free robo advisor, it’s one of the more affordable options we’ve come across. Although the minimum investment is only $5, keep in mind that you run the risk of losing out to fees if you invest only tiny amounts. If you’re looking for a platform for automated investing for beginners but have a hard time setting aside money, Acorns is an excellent choice.

Reasons to Buy

Spare change is invested automatically

Cash back at more than 350 retailers

Special features for kids’ accounts

At a Glance

  • Account minimum: Depends on the type of service
  • Account management fee: 0.49%-0.89% of assets under management per year
  • Investment expense ratios: 0.08% on average

Launched in 2009, Personal Capital quickly became one of the market’s most popular financial products. Offering a service that combines cutting-edge technology with human financial advice, this hybrid digital asset management company now has over $12 billion in assets under management.

Account Types

Personal Capital supports individual and joint non-retirement investment accounts, traditional, Roth, rollover and SEP IRAs, trusts, and cash accounts. The company also offers advice on 401(k) and 529 plan allocations. However, it doesn’t offer direct management for these account types.

Investment Strategies

Getting Started

Personal Capital’s model of operation is built upon selling investment advisory services to a small percentage of customers while offering plenty of features for free. Still, we suggest you don’t waste your time exploring this option unless you are looking to put $100,000 or more in your investment portfolio.

If you are part of Personal Capital’s target audience, you can rest assured that signing up with this robo advisor is simple. All you have to do is provide the requested personal information and link one or more of your investment accounts with the platform.

Portfolio Management

As one of the best robo investment advisors, Personal Capital bases its investment methodology on personalized and dynamic portfolio allocation, increasing diversification for better returns and risk minimization (smart weighing), automatic rebalancing, and tax optimization (tax-loss harvesting, tax allocation, and tax efficiency).

Fees and Commissions

While you can use Personal Capital’s financial management app for free, its wealth management services (investment management and other financial services provided by financial advisors) come with fees. The cost is determined by the size of your portfolio.

To get access to a financial advisor and the automated investing app, Personal Capital investors pay 0.89% per year on $1 million (or less) of assets under management. The fees drop as your portfolio grows. You’ll be charged 0.79% annually on the first $3 million, 0.69% on the next $2 million, 0.59% on another $5 million, and 0.49% if you invest more than $10 million.

Additional Services

Retirement Planner

Thanks to this feature, you can easily access your income and spending details to project the future value of your portfolio. Using this information, you’ll be able to see if you’re in the right shape for retirement. To secure its place among the best robo advisors, Personal Capital also offers a Recession Simulator that you can use to get an idea of how your portfolio would have performed throughout past recessions. If you are concerned about the effects of a recession on your retirement plan, this is an excellent asset.

Cash Flow

Personal Capital’s cash flow feature works like a personal finance manager – not only does it aggregate your income and expenses automatically, but it also displays cash flow data in neatly organized charts.

Budgeting

There’s also a budgeting feature that groups all of your personal finance tools into a single app. You can use Personal Capital’s budgeting functions to set a monthly spending threshold and track your spending or see your savings and spending by merchant, date, and category.

Customer Support

To get the registration process started with this robo advisor, you can reach customer service agents by phone. If you’re already a member, everything is handled directly through the financial advisor assigned to your account.

The Bottom Line

This hybrid robo advisor appeals mostly to investors who can deposit a large enough sum to gain access to services that aren’t available with traditional financial advisors. However, Personal Capital is also an excellent choice for beginning investors, as they can use this robo advisor’s financial planning tools at no cost to get valuable insights into their portfolios.

Reasons to Buy

Access to financial advisors

Comprehensive investment management and retirement planning tools

Advanced tax optimization strategies

At a Glance

  • Account minimum: $100 or $1,000 (depends on the portfolio)
  • Account management fee: 0.08% to 1.5% of assets under management per year
  • Investment expense ratios: Not stated

Offered by Interactive Brokers, a popular broker for advanced traders, Interactive Advisors was created with a mission: to make investing easy, transparent, and efficient. The software has secured a spot among the best robo investment advisors thanks to a broad range of customizable portfolio options, low fees, and access to highly trained investment professionals.

Account Types

The Interactive Advisors platform supports a wide variety of broker account types such as individual and joint taxable accounts, trusts, and different IRA structures, including traditional, Roth, and rollover. Regardless of the type, each account works as a cash account, which means it can use the proceeds from stock sales instantly rather than waiting for a two-day settlement to pass.

Investment Strategies

Getting Started

Widely regarded as the best robo advisor for both retirees and younger investors, Interactive Advisors lets you sign up with a fast and simple application process. If you already have an account with Interactive Brokers, all you need to do is complete a short questionnaire. However, if it’s your first time doing business with this robo advisor or its parent company, you’ll need to provide personal data, choose an account type, and confirm that you are a US resident.

From there, you’ll be able to set your goals and get an overview of the robo advisor’s performance data on a wide range of available portfolios.

Portfolio Management

Even if you are an experienced trader, you’ll still benefit from Interactive Advisors’ ability to create low-cost diversified portfolios customized for your needs and the risk levels you’re comfortable with. Seeking to combine assets that perform well in different economic conditions, this robo advisor makes sure to allocate investors’ capital to a bond component, an equity component, and an inflation-hedging component. Given that this strategy delivers solid diversification, you can count on risk reduction and good robo investing returns.

In addition to portfolio personalization and smart diversification, Interactive Advisors also offers quarterly automatic rebalancing and complete transparency.

Note that the clients have the option to start trading their own assets (stocks, bonds, options, and ETFs) by upgrading to an Interactive Brokers Universal Account at any time.

Fees and Commissions

Given the wide range of fees, the best way to get a cost estimate is by using the Interactive Advisors cost breakdown tool. Keep in mind that the least expensive portfolios come with 0.08% annual management charges, while the most expensive options carry a 1.5% robo advisor fee. You won’t be charged anything on uninvested cash.

Additional Services

Cash Account

You can keep your uninvested funds in a cash account. However, interest rates are very low. Also, there are quite a few restrictions that keep small balances from earning anything at all.

Human advisors

One of the best things about this robo advisor is that it offers unlimited phone access to highly trained investment professionals.

Educational Resources

A comprehensive educational center is another reason this company’s services deserve a spot among the best individual account robo advisors. There are plenty of in-depth articles, videos, and how-to guides on the website.

Customer Support

Interactive Advisors offers multiple ways to get in touch with its customer service team. Phone support is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday and from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Sundays. Online chat and email support are available around the clock on business days – for both current and prospective clients.

The Bottom Line

Interactive Advisors’ set of portfolios is among the most complex we’ve encountered, which makes it an excellent robo advisor for hands-on investors. In other words, if you are among trading veterans who understand how index funds are constructed but are still looking for a bit of a hands-off approach, Interactive Advisors offers a sophisticated way to introduce some automation to your investment strategies.

Reasons to Buy

Wide range of portfolios

Option to upgrade to an Interactive Brokers Universal Account

Plenty of educational resources

FAQ

Are robo advisors a good idea?

Given their ease of use and low fees, robo advisors are an excellent option for entry-level investors, especially when compared with traditional brokerage firms. These online investment management companies provide a good starting point for working toward your financial goals and building wealth, especially if you are starting with less than $25,000 to invest.

Do robo advisors beat the market?

Most robo advisors employ an index fund investing strategy, which means that they are able to closely match market performance - but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they can beat it. No matter how sophisticated your robo advisor’s algorithm may be, chances are that it won't be able to beat the stock market consistently.

Can you trust robo advisors?

Absolutely. Using robo advisors instead of working with a traditional broker is completely safe, and it comes with many advantages. Some of the most important benefits of computerized investing services include low asset-management and trading fees, low minimum balances, Nobel Prize-winning investment models, access to human financial advisors, and market expansion for younger investors.

How do I choose a robo advisor?

Start by defining your goals. Make sure that you understand fees, commissions, and investment minimums. Check each platform’s ease of use. Review support team credentials. Compare the offerings of multiple providers. After doing in-depth research we’ve come to the conclusion that Wealthfront, Betterment, SoFi, and M1 Finance are among the best robo advisors out there.