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Robo-advisor investing sites offer many advantages compared to working with an in-person financial advisor or taking a do-it-yourself approach. Such sites aim to foster a fun, easy and budget-friendly investing experience. Some common services include general portfolio building and investment selection, tax-loss harvesting, and automatic rebalancing.
On the surface, quite a few robo-advisor investing sites look the same, but a deeper look reveals differences in key areas such as fees, account types and custody. Betterment, FutureAdvisor, TradeKing and WiseBanyan are four well-known robo-advisors and each comes with their own set of pros:
Betterment made its mark as one of the earliest robo advisors – and it continues to be one of the best. Designed especially for newbie investors, users need only answer a few questions about their goals and schedule contributions to their Betterment account; investors who want to be a little more hands-on will find the site’s tools easy to use. You don’t need a minimum deposit, but you do pay fees based on your account balance. The higher your balance, the less you’ll pay. Here is our full Betterment review to give you a better idea of the investing service.
Do you already have an investing account or two? No problem! Link your account(s) to FutureAdvisor, a robo-advisor that evaluates your investments based on performance, diversification, taxes and other factors. It then makes recommendations about what funds you should sell and purchase and also explains why. Should you disagree with FutureAdvisor’s suggestions, you’re under no obligation to follow through. For a yearly fee, FutureAdvisor takes care of applying its advice to your account(s).
Ally Invest is a discount brokerage with very reasonable fees and a low $500 minimum deposit. This robo-advisor is probably better suited for those who feel comfortable investing on their own; however, Ally Invest also offers the option of working with an advisor whereby you simply select your risk-tolerance level and adjust it accordingly over time. The advisor selects your investments for you based on your response.
WiseBanyan offers basic robo-advising at no cost, but charges for add-ons such as tax-loss harvesting. If you want just a taste of the robo-advisor experience or prefer to cherry-pick the services you pay for, WiseBanyan is definitely an investing site worth considering.
More traditional investing firms are beginning to take notice of robo-advisors, with such companies as Fidelity partnering with Betterment and others offering their own in-house robo-advisor. These firms recognize the inherent benefits for investors, especially those who prefer a simple, friendly and affordable solution to achieving their financial goals.