Before starting your investment career, it pays to have a clear idea about what you will invest in. There are a ton of options on the market, but you obviously won’t be able to put a stake in them all. This brings us to another equally challenging aspect of the investment process; who to invest with. There are many investment platforms out there, and finding the right one for your investments can be just as important as picking good investment opportunities in the first place. In our Axos Invest review, we’ll break down this investment platform and how it works.
Axos Invest offers two investment services; Axos Self-Directed Trading and Axos Managed Portfolios. Let’s take a look at them both.
Investment Expense Ratios: average 0.12%
- Account management fees are low
- Offers customizable portfolios
- Offers excellent investment planning tools
- Facilitates tax-loss harvesting
- Account selection is limited
- $500 minimum opening and ongoing account balance
- Joint or custodial accounts not available
Axos Invest Managed Portfolios is an automated investment account that traces its roots back to a service called WiseBanyan, which was around since 2013. Back then, it didn’t belong to Axos Financial, which acquired its parent company, WiseBanyan, Inc. in 2018.
With a 0.24% management fee, Axos Managed Portfolios offers extensive portfolio customization features that most robo-advisors on the market cannot match.. Axos flexes its investor-goal-oriented status, letting investors track their financial goal progress with unlimited milestones.
After reviewing its services in August of 2020, Axos scrapped the free account management and introduced the fees that are currently in place. The annual advisory fees now cover features that were formerly a part of the Premium packages, such as tax-loss harvesting and Portfolio Plus.
This automated investment account is best suited for investors who prefer to operate on a hands-off basis, beginners, and those seeking long-term investments in personalized ETF portfolios that are professionally managed.
Axos lets its users manage their investments on both iOS and Android devices. Beyond the basic features, Axos Invest Managed Portfolios holders can also access quick deposits, IRA automation, and automatic portfolio rebalancing from their mobile devices.
So, where do Axos Invest’s Managed Portfolios shine?
First off, let’s talk about customizable investments. As with other automated investment advisors, Managed Portfolios operates on modern portfolio theory. Each investor answers a series of questions, and the answers to those questions help create their portfolio and risk score. The result is a portfolio of exchange-traded funds, reflecting how much risk the investor would be willing to accept. Portfolio management is relatively inexpensive. Most robo-advisors offer financial advice and other financial services at a much cheaper rate than their human counterparts, at a value of about 0.25% to 0.50% of the assets managed. Axos slightly one-ups those numbers, with Axos Invest fees coming in at 0.24%. It might not be much, but it is more money saved, nonetheless.
Axos portfolios are similar to the industry norm. Funds carry an average investment expense ratio of 0.12%, covering equities in the U.S, emerging, and international markets, as well as various bonds; corporate, short-term, high-yield, and government-issued. There are also real estate investment trusts and inflation-protected treasury securities.
The Portfolio Plus feature lets you customize portfolios at no additional cost. Investors have access to up to 32 different investment types categorized by sector, which can be added or removed freely. These sectors range from marijuana and CBD to digital security to consumer staples and even socially minded companies.
Additionally, Axos Managed Portfolios offers its clients goal-oriented investing by allowing them to create milestones for their financial goals. Investors list out their goals, income, and net worth, along with the time frame in which they are looking to accomplish these goals. In return, Axos calculates a recommendation for what steps they need to take to reach that goal. These recommendations on asset allocation can also be adjusted by the clients themselves.
Automated investing is another thing that Axos does well. Operating with a Formulas feature, which is only available with taxable investment accounts, investors can direct additional financial resources toward their goals through a linked bank account. With tax-loss harvesting, clients can reduce taxes on their gains from investments, a feature all Axos Invest clients using the Managed Portfolios account can enjoy.
Despite all the praise we’ve given Axos so far, there are two downsides to be aware of. First off, the deposit minimum is very high. Many robo-advisors operate with $0 account minimums, but Axos will require you to have an opening and ongoing balance of $500 or more on your account. Furthermore, customers using Managed Portfolios can only operate individual taxable accounts and IRA account options; traditional IRA, SEP IRA, or Roth IRA. Joint or custodial accounts are not available.
Axos Invest vs. Other Robo-Advisor Competitors
$0 or $100,000
0.25% or 0.40%
0.25% annually on total investments
Axos Self-Directed Trading
Axos Invest Self-Directed Trading offers its clients the ability to trade options, stocks, and ETFs on their own without having to pay any commission. Axos introduced this option in June of 2021, and it has been very popular thus far.
In addition to offering clients a trading option without any commissions, this product does not require a minimum investment, unlike the Managed Portfolios service.
Not all trades are free, though. With a basic self-trading account, charges come in at $1.00 for every contract on options trades, which is a lot higher than other brokers charge. If you are after one of the over 10,000 no-load mutual funds offered by Axos Invest, the commission will be $9.95 per trade.
The Axos self-directed investing service is not limited to just the basic self-trading plan, either. There is also a premium plan called Axos Elite that costs $10 a month. You can sign up for the account when your minimum balance is $25,000. Axos Elite comes with the following features;
- Rates for margin trading start at 5.5%
- Fees for per contract options are lowered to $0.80
- Clients get paid to lend out their shares
- Clients get access to research reports from TipRanks and stock quotes in real-time
- Trading is extended to 7 p.m.
Axos Self-Directed investing addresses some of the issues with Managed Portfolios while giving users access to low-cost portfolios. In addition, individual, joint, or retirement accounts can be opened, as well as free checking and savings accounts. With Self-Directed Trading, Axos caters to both active and passive investors. Just be aware that some trades come with high fees.
How Can Axos Be Improved?
Axos Invest undoubtedly operates a well-oiled machine for its clients, whether they opt for Managed Portfolios or the Self-Directed Trading accounts, and regardless of the portfolios that the Axos Invest robo-advisor manages.
However, Axos Invest doesn’t provide access to any human advisory services with these two plans, focusing entirely on the robo-advisor niche. While human advisors are without a doubt much more expensive, the option to hire some for consultation as part of the bonus features of Managed Portfolios or the Self-Directed Trading accounts would have been welcome.
Another aspect that could benefit from improvements is customer service, which we’ll talk about more later. Axos Invest does not have any physical branches, so although there are plenty of options for virtual customer support, you cannot speak with agents face-to-face.
Axos Invest Account Types
Here’s a quick overview of the types of accounts that users can operate with Axos Invest:
- Taxable (Individual and Joint)
The tradable assets available to users on Axos Invest include:
- Mutual Funds
Axos Invest Customer Support
Axos Invest offers customer support through secure messaging when you log in to your account and via email. There is no dedicated customer service number for Axos Invest clients to contact the service. You can also reach out through phone Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST.
Axos Invest Mobile App
Axos Invest offers its clients a handy mobile app to monitor and access their accounts on the go. The app is available on iOS and Android, but only for Managed Portfolios account holders. Self-Directed Trading activities are yet to be supported, but we’re sure that Axos is working on an app for that account, too.
If low-cost management combined with guidance for goal-oriented investing is what you’re looking for, then Axos Invest Managed Portfolios might just be your best bet. For investors who prefer a more hands-on approach, Axos Invest Self-Directed Trading does just the trick.
As we’ve already explained, there are some downsides to consider, such as a lack of in-person customer support and human advisors. Still, Axos reviews its accounts regularly, the automated robo-advisor is constantly improving, and customer support through live chat and phone is excellent.
Is Axos Invest free?
Axos Invest formerly offered free management for its clients, but after a 2020 review, it now charges a 0.24% management fee for Managed Portfolios. For self-trading accounts, Axos Invest charges $1.00 for every contract on options trades.
How do I close an Axos Investment?
Closing your Axos Invest account is easy. All you need to do is log in to your account and send customer support a secure message stating your intentions.
Is Axos Bank good?
Axos Bank is considered to have some of the best money market and online savings accounts, including excellent robo-advisor solutions for investors, which we covered in our Axos Invest review.
What happens when I withdraw from an investment account?
Typically, withdrawing from your investment account doesn’t incur tax penalties. You may, however, have to pay capital gains taxes if you have earned money on your investments.