Pros and cons and who should create an account

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account minimum

$0 ($100,000 premium plan)

expenses

0.25% digital plan; 0.40% premium

account minimum

$0 ($100,000 premium plan)

expenses

0.25% digital plan; 0.40% premium

Positives

  • There is no minimum standard investment account
  • Goal-based planning, tax harvesting, charitable giving, and socially responsible investing are available
  • Access to certified financial planners
  • Mobile app with external account sync options

Negatives

  • You will have to pay to consult a human advisor, unless you have an installment plan
  • Limited Investment Choice

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more information

  • Promotion: None at this time.
  • App Store Rating: 4.7 iOS / 4.5 Android
  • Consider if: You want to access automated advice with multiple service levels.

general evaluation

Is optimization right for you?

Betterment is an automated investment platform that offers automated advice and self-managed personal investment portfolios. It suits hands-free investors who want to take advantage of single or joint accounts, IRAs, fiduciary accounts, cash reserves or checking accounts.

The platform also offers a wide range of portfolio options while only using ETFs for its portfolio allocations. Betterment mobile app is available on both iOS and Android devices.

Betterment vs. Wealthfront

Betterment and Wealthfront are two of the oldest platforms in the robo-advisor field. Both offer automated portfolio management, with access to perks like cash accounts, tax harvesting, socially responsible investing, and more.

Betterment offers guidance for a financial advisor, but Wealthfront does not (although it does allow its users to contact professionals with questions). Optimization also has a lower minimum account requirement than Wealthfront. You don’t need anything to start using the Betterment Digital Plan. However, Wealthfront has a $500 minimum.

Wealthfront is a better option for users who want access to a wide range of investment options. Plus, it’s great for those who want to automate custodial accounts like 529 plans.

Best vs Vanguard

Betterment and Vanguard both have automated investing, but Vanguard is the stronger choice for all types of investors. With Vanguard, you can access both self-directed and automated accounts. But you will be limited to automated investing in Betterment, so it is not a great option for those who want to trade through them.

When it comes to bot tips, you will pay less with Vanguard’s primary automated account, Vanguard Digital Advisor, than you would at Betterment. The Betterment Digital Plan charges 0.25%, but Vanguard Digital Advisor only charges 0.20%.

Ways to invest with Betterment

Automated portfolio management

Betterment uses computer algorithms to build and manage custom portfolios. The platform also offers an FDIC-insured current account, cash reserve account (has an APY of 1.60%), IRAs, and 401(k). Plus, their pricing plans are easy to follow. It offers two options:

  • digital enhancement: This plan does not have any minimum account requirements, but it does carry an annual fee of 0.25%. It includes features such as tax loss harvesting, asset location, portfolio rebalancing, and reinvestment of profits. Additionally, to maintain a healthy level of risk, Betterment automatically adjusts your portfolio allocation as you get closer to meeting your goals. This tier also offers a range of portfolio options, but does not include free advisor access.
  • optimization premium: You’ll need a minimum of $100,000 for the premium account, but you’ll be able to access all the features the digital plan offers as well as individual unlimited CFP guidelines. CFPs also advise on other investments you hold outside of Betterment.

You can also invest towards specific goals in Betterment. It currently offers six: Retirement (Savings), Retirement (Income), Safety Net, Prime Purchase, General Investing, and Cash Objectives.

types of wallets

Betterment offers several portfolio options. The first, its core portfolio, focuses on long-term investing by allocating your money across a global portfolio of stock and bond ETFs. Its innovative technology portfolio targets companies with a lot of growth potential. These include semiconductors, blockchain companies, clean energy companies, and more.

Its three socially responsible portfolios – Broad Impact, Climate Impact, and Social Impact – are ideal for those who want to create positive change through their investments. Finally, the Goldman Sachs Smart Beta Portfolio is aimed at companies that will outperform the market, and the BlackRock Target Income Portfolio protects your assets from loss by investing primarily in bond ETFs.

Investment types

As for the investment types at Betterment, they mainly offer ETFs and Bond ETFs. Many automated platforms offer ETFs, so their investment selection is in line with most competitors. However, some automated platforms offer alternatives. For example, Wealthfront owns ETFs, index funds, and crypto trust funds. Fidelity’s automated accounts – Fidelity Go and Fidelity Personal Planning & Advice – both offer Fidelity Flex mutual funds (these funds do not have expense ratios),

Optimization: is it trustworthy?

The Betterment Bureau gives Betterment a B rating. Ratings range from A+ to F and reflect the Bureau’s opinion of how well the company interacts with its clients. The BBB says Betterment’s rating also stems from the fact that it received 98 complaints against it.

In addition, office evaluations do not guarantee that the company is reliable or doing well. But they take into account a number of other factors, including the type of business, time in business, customer complaint history, licensing and government procedures, and advertising issues.

The company has closed 41 complaints in the last 12 months, and has no unresolved complaints at this time, according to its BBB profile.

Improvement – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much do you need to open a better account?

Betterment’s simplest account, the Digital plan, has a $0 account minimum, but you’ll need at least $100,000 to get started with its premium account. One of the things the premium account offers is that the digital plan isn’t unlimited routing for a single CFP.

Is the improvement worth the fee?

Many bot advisors – such as Wealthfront and SigFig – also have a 0.25% fee option, but you can also find other automated platforms that do not have an advisory fee (for example, SoFi Automated Investing and Ally Invest Managed Portfolios).

The answer to this question largely depends on what you are looking for in an investment platform. If you are looking for access to low fees, human advisors, goal-focused strategies, and features like tax harvesting, Betterment may be a good option for you.

How confident is the improvement?

Betterment is a legitimate platform that has been in business since 2011. In addition to being rated B with the Better Business Bureau, the robo advisor is also registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and a foundation Securities Investor Protection (SIPC).

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