Many of us thought by now we’d be living in an age where robots would do our house cleaning, fold our laundry, and even roll us through our daily routine or drive us to work. While we haven’t gotten there yet, robots are doing more and more to make our lives easier. One of the things they are doing is managing portfolios.
What is Robo-Trading?
Robo Trading, also known as Robo Advising, is a method of managing portfolios using an algorithm based on user needs, wants, and risk tolerance. Based on these user inputs, stocks are traded to keep the investments on track for the user’s retirement or other goals that have been set.
Why should you consider using a Robo Trader?
Low start-up costs
Investing with an in-person financial advisor can require thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Unless you have that kind of money just sitting around, or are looking to transfer an investment that you already have, this high barrier to entry can exclude most of us from using a traditional financial advisor.
Many Robo Traders have quite low start-up costs, meaning you can start investing even if all you have is some spare change.
Financial advisors make their income by charging a fee. The average commission fee charged by financial advisors is 3% to 6% of your investments. Alternately, Robo Traders often charge less than 1% annually because computers are able to do much of the administrative work, rather than relying upon a human financial advisor.
Using a Robo Trader can save you time. They can automatically rebalance your investments without extra input from you, and you don’t have to meet in person with a financial advisor. You can manage your portfolio online rather than having to go through a middle man.
Some Robo Traders can help you make tax-advantaged decisions to avoid capital gains and use any losses positively. Since you pay capital gains tax on investments that are not tax-advantaged (such as IRA accounts or 401k accounts), this could save you a lot of money.
Best Robo Traders
There are currently over 200 Robo Traders available in the U.S. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorites and the reasons we love them.
As of the writing of this article, Betterment manages over $22 billion on behalf of 480,000 clients. You can begin investing with Betterment with no minimum balance, so you can get started right away. They charge a low annual fee of .25%, and fees charged by the funds themselves range from .03% to .5%. There are no costs to close or open accounts, and their software can help you set goals and rebalance your accounts automatically.
Betterment can help you set up automatic transfers from a checking or savings account to meet your investment goals. They even offer their own free checking and high-yield savings accounts, so you can keep all your money in one place. The icing on the cake? Betterment provides access to real-life financial advisors for a fee, giving you the option to speak to a real person if you have questions that their software can’t answer.
Wealthfront manages $10 billion and charges a low annual fee of .25%. They do require a minimum balance of $500 to get started. They emphasize their method of lowering tax liability by using strategic trading. Wealthfront offers retirement plans and education savings plans, and free management of up to $5,000. Their planning tools are easy to use and can help you determine what you’ll need for retirement, if you can afford to buy the house you’re eyeing, or what you might need to save for your children’s college education.
Personal Capital manages $12.3 billion and requires a minimum balance of $100,000. They charge a higher fee on investments than Betterment and Wealthfront: .89% for the first $1 million, with a discount for higher investments. However, these higher fees include the major perk of speaking with a financial advisor for free.
Even if you don’t invest with Personal Capital, you may benefit by using some of their free tools, such as the Retirement Planner, Investment Checkup, and Fee Analyzer.
Robo traders can help you manage your portfolio easily for low fees. Even if you’re just beginning to think about investing and saving for retirement, you can get started today with any amount of money. Or, if you’re looking to transfer your investments away from an advisor with high fees, moving to Robo Trading can help you meet your goals with lower fees, while still having access to personalized advice from a financial advisor.