One would expect that a robo-advisor service equals low fees. That’s not necessarily the case. With the field of robo-advisors expanding rapidly, there are some providers that keep fees in check and others with higher fees. In fact, in some cases you may find a traditional financial planner offering their services at a lower percentage of assets under management (AUM) than some robo-advisors. (For more, see: A Look at Vanguard's Robo-Advisor.)

Fee Structure

Before diving into the low fee robo-advisors, consider the range of fees - from .15% of AUM at the lowest end to close to 1.0% at the higher end. For this article, robo-advisors with AUM fees of less than 0.50% will be considered low fee robo-advisors. But the AUM fee isn’t the only fee charged by these technologically assisted advisors. (For more, see: Robo-Advisors and a Human Touch: Better Together?)

There are also underlying exchange-traded fund (ETF) fees. Slapped on top of the AUM fees are fund expense ratios. They range from a low end of approximately 0.05% on up. Furthermore, some funds charge transaction fees and others don’t. This article will focus only on the fees robo-advisors charge. (For more, see: Pros & Cons of Using a Robo-Advisor.)

A fee comparison wouldn’t be just without looking at the differences in services. Some robo-advisors, such as Personal Capital and Vanguard, give investors access to a financial advisor. Others, are one hundred percent automated. Then there are the robos with very high minimum investment amounts, unsuitable for the new investor. In general, most robos utilize relatively low fee funds. Next, we’ll explore the low fee robo-advisors. (For more, see: Betterment vs. Wealthfront: A Fee & Fund Comparison.)

Low-Fee Robo-Advisors

 

Robo Advisor

Fee Structure

Other Factors to Consider

Asset Builder

0.20% to 0.45% of AUM. Depends on amount of assets under management.

Minimum balance $50,000.

Betterment

Fees decline as AUM increases. 0.35% with $100 monthly deposit up to $9,999; 0.25% $10,0000-$99,999; 0.15% $100,000+

 

Future Advisor

Free - Actionable advice on linked accounts indefinitely. 0.5% management fee levied on Fidelity Investments and TD Ameritrade managed by Future Advisor.

$10,000 minimum investment.

Liftoff

0.40%

 

Personal Capital

The Personal Capital dashboard and software is free to all users.  Users may choose to become clients of the advisory service. Low fees are only for extremely high net worth customers.

 

Management fees for paid accounts are only low, 0.49% when the account is valued at greater than $10 million. All paid accounts have access to a dedicated financial advisor.

Rebalance Ira

0.5% management fee of AUM.

Minimum $500 fee per year.

$75,000 minimum investment.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

Zero

 

Sig Fig

Free under $10,000. 0.25% fee for AUM above $10,000.

First $10,000 managed for free.

 

Trade King Advisors

0.25% for the Core portfolio.

0.50% for the Momentum portfolio with a balance of $25,000 to $249,999. Above $250,000 fee is 0.25%

Core portfolio minimum is $5,000.

Momentum portfolio minimum is $25,000.

Vanguard Personal Advisors

0.30%

$50,000 minimum and includes access to a financial advisor.

Wealthfront

0.25%

First $10,000 always managed for free.

Wise Banyan

Zero

 

 

The Bottom Line

All financial decisions require a certain level of evaluation and due diligence. Not only are fees important when choosing a robo-advisor, but you must also consider the available services, the underlying methodology and your own personal preferences. Also take into account the underlying fees that funds charge. You might use this low fee robo-advisor list to get you started in your search for the best one to manage your investments. (For more, see: Are Robo-Advisors Becoming More Human?)

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