In 2019, Axos bank acquired the WiseBanyan robo-advisor and rebranded the service as Axos Managed Portfolios. A key change resulting from the acquisition was a revamped pricing structure. WiseBanyan was initially free with add-on pricing for customization and tax-loss harvesting, but now the current 0.24% of assets under management (AUM) fee includes all of the former WiseBanyan add-on services. Beyond that, there have been few changes from WiseBanyan. 

Beyond remaining stable in a rapidly changing industry, Axos has several strong features. The ability for users to add more than 20 thematic asset classes represented by ETFs to the core portfolios or opt for a style based replacement portfolio is great for investors who desire more customization than offered by the standard traditionally allocated index fund portfolio. Axos Managed Portfolios will be attractive to existing Axos Bank customers or those who want to place their own stamp on an investment portfolio and have their assets managed for a low fee. Unfortunately, the customization options are somewhat hidden due to poor platform design. We’ll dig deeper into Axos Managed Portfolios to help you decide if it is the right fit for your investment needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Axos Managed Portfolios is among the best for customization allowing you to choose ETFs to represent over 30 asset classes.
  • The low minimum and 0.24% fee puts Axos Managed Portfolios among the lowest cost robo-advisors. 
  • Many former WiseBanyan features have been buried within a confusing website user experience. 
  • Phone service for Axos Managed Portfolios customers is a welcome addition. 
Pros
  • Vast customization options

  • Live customer service

  • Tax-loss harvesting

  • Well-diversified core portfolios

Cons
  • Must sign up and divulge Social Security number to view recommended portfolios

  • Difficult website to navigate

  • Managed Portfolios difficult to use on mobile apps

  • Difficult to find full FAQ and other information

  • Limited account types

Company Overview

Account Minimum  $500
Fees  0.24% AUM 
Goal Setting  Yes-customizable 
Available Assets  ETFs 
Interest Paid on Cash Balances  N/A 
Customizable Portfolio  Yes – you can add ETFs or substitute Core for Featured portfolios 
View Portfolio Before Funding  Yes-but must set up account with Social Security number 
Customer Service  Phone and email 
Financial Advisor Available  No 
Cash Management  No - only through Axos Bank 
Tax-Loss Harvesting  Yes 
External Account Sync/Consolidation Not used in portfolio set up or management
Mobile App Yes

Account Setup

Your first step is to create an account and answer several financial goal and risk tolerance questions. But there’s a catch. Creating an account requires you to input your name, email address, date of birth, phone number, and Social Security number. This is a barrier for those who prefer to take the initial financial goals and risk questionnaire to view the recommended portfolio without divulging their Social Security number.

Once your account is set up, you’re able to complete the brief financial goals and risk level questionnaire before funding your account. The questionnaire is similar to most robo-advisory initial questionnaires and includes choosing a goal such as emergency fund, retirement, build wealth, and new home. During the questionnaire, you will provide income, net worth, investment horizon, and risk tolerance levels. At the end of the process, a recommended core portfolio is generated based upon your questionnaire responses. 

Axos Managed Portfolios allows you to open any of the commonly used account types, including:

  • Individual and joint taxable accounts 
  • Roth and Traditional (IRAs) 

Those seeking trust, custodial, or other specific account types will need to choose another robo-advisor. 

To fund the account, you simply link banking information for transfers. You’re able to rename and add additional goals as well. And if you have general questions, you can reach out to customer service. 

Goal Planning

Axos Managed Portfolios signup process enables various goals: emergency fund, retirement, build wealth, new home, and more. Once the account is set up, you can add additional goals and rename any goal within your account. Investors can view their goal progress from the dashboard, see a goal summary, and find out the value and performance of the individual goal. 

The Goal Projection scenario tool provides expected, best-, and worst-case returns for the existing goal. You can also test out different scenarios by setting a target deposit amount and frequency to view how your goal progress will change. The Goal Summary and Projection tools give users a good idea about how likely they are to meet their financial aspirations and offers occasional nudges towards those goals. 

Account Services

The Axos Managed Portfolios are solely a digital investment platform. Users can set up automatic deposits into their accounts, and there are no fees for withdrawals from your account. 

Axos is a full-service online financial firm which offers self-directed trading and these managed portfolios via Axos Invest. Axos began as a bank and through Axos Bank they offer typical banking services and products such as checking, savings, and lending. Managed Portfolio investors will need to use Axos Bank or another firm for lending and cash management services separately as these are not contained within the robo-advisory offering.

Cash Management 

Axos Managed Portfolios are fully invested in the financial markets. Unlike several other platforms, the portfolios do not include cash allocations. Users who want checking, debit cards, and additional cash management will not find this within Axos Managed Portfolios. They can easily set up cash accounts at Axos Bank. On the positive side, the lack of a cash portion to the portfolio removes a performance drag that some other robo-advisors with a high cash allocation suffer from during advancing markets.

Portfolio Construction

The initial portfolio construction follows the typical modern portfolio theory robo-advisory path with risk-tolerance levels ranging from conservative to aggressive and portfolios populated with diversified ETFs to match. Conservative portfolios will allocate more money to fixed assets while aggressive-leaning selections will allocate more to stock ETFs.

To view alternate portfolios, users can retake the initial questionnaire. Each risk-related portfolio includes a mix of stock, bond, and real estate ETFs with distinct return projections. The customization options, described below add socially responsible and investment theme options. 

Portfolio Customization 

Axos is one of the most customizable robo-advisors on the market today. Users who don’t want to invest in the recommended core portfolios can replace it with a strategy or style-related choice from the Portfolio Plus choices. 

Each Featured Portfolio option has a cute name and represents a specific group of ETFs with an overriding theme. Users can delve into their account, and the featured section to view the  portfolio details. This section is difficult to find on the website, and requires some digging to get the appropriate screen. This is a disservice to the platform as it is an incredibly useful feature that will be attractive to investors looking for some customization in their automated portfolio. 

Axos Managed Portfolios offers a second customization option on top of the thematic portfolios. Investors can choose up to 20 style or strategy ETFs from more than 30 available choices to add to an existing portfolio. The ETFs range from typical diversified U.S. and international stock and bond ETFs to unique sector picks. After users choose their ETFs, they can set a preferred asset allocation. 

Available Assets
Individual Stocks N/A
Mutual Funds  N/A 
Fixed Income  ETFs 
REITs  Yes (ETFs)
Socially Responsible or ESG Options  Yes - through customization options. 
ETFs  Yes
Non-Proprietary ETFs  Yes 
Mutual Funds  N/A
Private Equity  N/A 
Crypto, Forex  N/A 

Portfolio Management

Axos Managed Portfolios includes the typical rebalancing of the individual funds back to your preferred asset allocation when values deviate 5% or more from the target allocation. Core and customized holdings are all rebalanced according to selected asset weights. Those with taxable accounts can also opt for tax-loss harvesting that will swap out similar ETFs to lower the overall tax liabilities when there are unrealized losses in your portfolio.

The useful return graph illustrates average, worst, and best case scenario returns. If your portfolio is aggressively invested and you can’t stomach the hypothetical worst case scenario, you might want to revert to a more conservative asset allocation.

Customers can link their external financial accounts to the dashboard. The account management only includes assets within the Axos Managed Portfolio account. 

The platform enables users to customize their dashboard with tile views of useful data. The eight tiles include account overview, distribution, trends, recent transaction, move money, scheduled payments, invest goals (for tracking up to two goals), and investment overview. The tracking information is basic and lacks the complexity of Personal Capital, Wealthfront, or SigFig's investment management tools. 

Key Portfolio Management Features
Automatic Rebalancing When values deviate 5% from goal
Reporting Features  Statements and tax documents available online 
Tax-Loss Harvesting  Yes - You can exclude ETFs to avoid wash sale rules
External Account Syncing/Consolidation  Yes - You can sync external accounts but they aren’t used in portfolio management or creation

User Experience

Desktop Experience

If you want an intuitive user experience, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Although all the information you need is available, finding statements, customization options, and additional features is cumbersome and could be compared to a game of hide and seek. This is a shame as the customizations are one of the key strengths of Axos Managed Portfolios. 

Mobile App Experience

Many users report a negative experience with some saying it has gone down hill since Wise Banyan was acquired by Axos. The Axos Invest Managed Portfolios app has just 1.8 stars from over 500 reviews on Google Play. If mobile experience is very important to you, you may want to consider another robo advisor.

Customer Service Options

Customer service is a strong point for Axos Managed Portfolios. With live phone customer service during normal business hours and email options, we were very satisfied with this aspect of the platform. In our testing, emails were answered within one day. The phone representatives are helpful and respond quickly. Text and email alerts can be customized to inform users of statement and tax form availability. The FAQs are adequate, but lack the depth of other platforms and a search feature to find information quickly. 

Security Features

As would be expected from a bank based robo-advisor, Axos Managed Portfolios offers premier-level security features, fraud protection, customer education, and more.

Investors' assets are protected by the standard SIPC insurance of $500,000, including $250,000 in claims for cash. This protects consumers against corporate fraud or malfeasance as well as failures and bankruptcies and not losses due to normal market fluctuations.

Security features include:

  • State of the art technology to detect and prevent cyber crime
  • Secure socket layer encryption
  • Automatic logout after short period of time
  • Account fraud monitoring
  • Two-factor authentication

Education 

Don’t sign up for Axos Managed Portfolio expecting investment education. The site’s blog contains few investment related articles. The Tools and Calculators section is good for banking and lending but has only one investing-related calculator for retirement planning. There are no videos or webinars at present. 

Commissions & Fees 

Axos Invest charges 0.24% of assets under management for all accounts and deducted monthly from your account balance. This is just below the 0.25% charged by competitors Betterment and Wealthfront and in line with a typical robo-advisor. The core portfolios levy an average 0.12% expense ratio, which is quite low. The fund expense ratio is paid to the ETF management firm, not to Axos.  

There is a $500 minimum to open an account. Should your account fall below that amount due to market activity or withdrawals you'll be charged $1 a month instead of 0.24%.

According to a source at the company, there are no taxable brokerage account closure fees and Axos charges you $40 to liquidate an IRA.  Account transfers to another firm are charged a $75 fee. 

Category Fee 
Management fees for $5,000 account $12.00
Management fees for $25,000 account  $60.00 
Management fees for $100,000 account  $240.00
Termination fees  Taxable brokerage-$0.00, IRA-$40.00
Expense ratios  0.12% for core accounts 

Final Verdict

Axos Managed Portfolios is a good choice for any investor who wants to control portions of their investment portfolio and receive automated portfolio management at a low fee along with tax-loss harvesting. Axos Bank customers will appreciate having all of their financial assets under one roof. One thing holding Axos’s solid robo-advisor offering back is the user experience and navigation that makes some of its best features challenging to find. 

In contrast, Wealthfront offers similar customization and a superior website user experience and navigation but at a slightly higher price. Similarly, M1 Finance also offers customization and free portfolio automation but without Axos Managed Portfolios level of analysis or nudges to do more to reach your goals. Ultimately, once you learn how to navigate the website, Axos Managed Portfolios is a good product and the customer service options are a standout feature. With a streamlined user experience and clearer paths to its strong customization features, it would be even better. 

1:48

Everything You Need to Know About Robo-Advisor

Methodology

Our mission at Investopedia is to provide investors with reviews and ratings of robo-advisors that are comprehensive and unbiased. Our team of researchers and expert writers, led by senior editor Michael Sacchitello, spent months evaluating all aspects of a robo-advisor’s platform, including the account setup process, goal planning tools, account service options, portfolio construction offerings, portfolio management, mobile and desktop user experience, educational content, fees, and security. As part of this evaluation, we extract critical data points that are weighted by our quantitative model that produces a powerful star-scoring system.

With the individual investor in mind, we’ve designed a comprehensive ranking methodology to find the best overall robo-advisors and the best robo-advisors across nine key categories. Each advisor is then scored across multiple variables to rate performance in every applicable category. The score for the overall award is a weighted average of the categories.

Take the Next Step to Invest
×
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.
Service
Name
Description