Interactive Advisors (IA) launched in 2007 as the investment advisory arm of Interactive Brokers, although the IA name wasn’t adopted until 2019. Initially, the firm offered a free service that enabled investors to automatically replicate the trades of portfolio managers. The traditional robo-advisory platform launched in 2015 when Interactive Brokers Group acquired robo-advisor Covestor. Interactive Advisors is created for investors who want either a diversified index matching robo-advisor or the opportunity to invest like professional money managers and attempt to surpass market returns. We’ll take a deeper look into Interactive Broker’s robo-advisory to help you decide whether it is the right fit for your investment needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Interactive Advisors is our best robo-advisor for socially responsible investing and portfolio construction.
  • Interactive Advisors offers more than 50 portfolio options including smart beta, value, environmental, social, and governance (ESG), market-matching, and scores of externally managed strategy opportunities aiming to outperform market returns.
  • Interactive Advisors has excellent security, including external security devices.
  • IA’s intuitive screeners enable targeted portfolio screening, supporting you in finding the right fit among the many options.
  • The robo-advisor fees range from 0.08% to 1.5% assets under management (AUM).
Pros
  • Vast range of investment portfolio styles

  • Targeted socially responsible portfolios including value, sustainable products, mindful business, and more

  • Informative goal tracker tool

  • Many low-fee portfolios available

  • Transparent fee estimator calculator

Cons
  • No automatic tax-loss harvesting

  • Some managed portfolios have high fees and high minimums

  • IA accounts might be harder to access through the IBKR mobile app

Company Overview

Account Minimum $100
Fees 0.08% to 1.5% AUM - depending upon the portfolio selected
Goal Setting Categories include retirement, college, large purchase, and more
Available Assets Stocks and ETFs. Additional asset types might be available in money manager portfolios. 
Interest Paid on Cash Balances N/A
Customizable Portfolio Blacklisting certain stocks are the only customization options. 
View Portfolio before Funding Yes
Customer Service Phone, chat, email
Financial Advisor Available Yes
Cash Management No
Tax-Loss Harvesting No
External Account Sinking/Consolidation No. Only with IBKR account.
Mobile App No. Can view mobile-friendly website on device.

Account Setup

To sign up with Interactive Advisors, first you’ll need to open an Interactive Brokers account. Next, you respond to a short questionnaire, comparable to other robo-advisors’ goal, time frame, and risk tolerance questions. Clients can speak with phone customer service representatives from Monday through Friday 9:00 to 5:00 ET. Chat and email are also available for questions. Additionally, clients can speak with licensed Investment Advisors. 

IA is different from most robo-advisors as they offer scores of both proprietary platforms and managed accounts from a variety of investment firms. Investors can start investing with only $100 for the IA portfolios, although the managed portfolios may have higher investment minimums. You can only invest in portfolios that are in line with their risk score. 

Before sign up, you’re able to review the available portfolios, including performance statistics. Prospective clients can screen portfolios based upon risk tolerance and fund family. Portfolio options are available for a range of investors including the most conservative to speculators seeking to beat market returns.

Goal Setting

Goal Tracker is IA’s goal setting and monitoring tool. You can choose from a variety of goals like retirement, medical expenses, home purchase, vacation, and more. Then the tool provides a screen summarizing the initial and subsequent contributions and a graph of the average expected returns and risk including best and worst-case scenario outcomes. 

You can adjust the inputs such as contributions, goal target dates, and costs for the goal to discover how the probability for success changes.

Account Services

The Interactive Advisors platform is distinct from the broader Interactive Brokerage firm, where you have access to self-directed trading, downloadable trading platforms and a variety of investment assets. IA clients can upgrade their existing robo-advisor account to an IB Universal Account for access to all of the self-trading features.

Although customer service is available, this platform is best suited to investors seeking digital investment management without human help. The outstanding platform feature is the large range of available investment portfolios. Margin is not available to IA clients, nor do any of the portfolios employ margin in their strategies. For cash management, margin, and banking  investors will need to look elsewhere or access those features through a regular IBKR trading account. Margin in particular is associated with an active investment management strategy, so only a handful of robo-advisors offer this feature at this point. 

The only fees you will pay with Interactive Advisors are the AUM-based management fees and underlying fund management fees. There are no commissions or trading costs. Withdrawals are also fee-free.

Cash Management

Cash Management Accounts aren’t available through the IA platform. Thus, Interactive Advisors doesn’t offer any automated cash management sweeps.

Users seeking Cash Management Accounts will find them at Interactive Brokers.

Portfolio Construction

Interactive Advisors is ideal for the digital client seeking low fee managed investment portfolios and/or a range of management styles. The available portfolios include both IA-designed offers and scores of externally managed investments, which will be covered in detail in the following Portfolio Management section of this review.

There are a total of 78 individual portfolios that are offered by Interactive Advisors and 25 distinct fund managers. The multiple ESG investments include specific socially responsible categories like a better planet, social justice, and women. Investors will find nearly any investment style desired from conservative income portfolios to aggressive equity rotation and sector portfolios. 

The investments and asset allocation are driven by the investors' risk tolerance score and timeline. Although the IA-managed portfolios include only ETFs, investors might find stocks and other asset classes in their offers. For those seeking a broad range of investment styles, IA fits the bill.

Available Assets
Individual Stocks Yes
Mutual Funds No
Fixed Income Yes
REITs Yes
Socially Responsible or ESG Options Yes
ETFs Yes
Non-Proprietary ETFs Yes
Mutual Funds No
Crypto, Forex  No

Portfolio Management

IA portfolios fall into two broad categories, those managed by IA and those managed by outside advisors. Within each group, there are multiple available portfolios with various fees and account minimums. Investors can screen for portfolios based upon:

  • Risk: Cautious to Speculative
  • Management cost: 0.20% to 1.50%
  • Minimum investment
  • Asset type: Stock, ETF, or mixed
  • Management firm
  • Theme: Top performing, income, growth, and more 
  • ESG and SRI factors, along with a corresponding analysis of return impact on exclusion

The company regularly monitors a portfolio’s adherence to the client’s risk tolerance and doesn’t enable investors to invest beyond their risk level. You can also opt-out of certain stocks and funds if desired.

The in-house Interactive Advisors Portfolios include 16 types of investment portfolios, including Asset Allocation, Smart Beta, Index-Tracking, and Socially Responsible offers. IA also has several Model ETF portfolios, which are created by Wisdom Tree, State Street, and Global X including thematic disruptive technologies. Some portfolios are designed to track broad market indexes, while others strive to outperform the markets. The IA portfolios require a $100 minimum and levy low management fees beginning at 0.08% AUM.

When it comes to portfolios offered by outside managers, there are roughly 20 fund managers that offer various types of investment portfolios to IA clients. These portfolios vary in style, assets, fees, and investment minimums. The management fees on these portfolios include a small payment to IA. Sample externally managed portfolios include:

  • Cratus Capital- High Income with $500 minimum and 0.75% AUM fee
  • Philadelphia Investment Partners Dynamic Growth with $500 minimum and 0.80% AUM fee
  • Lakeland Wealth with $500 minimum and 0.50% AUM fee
Automatic Rebalancing Quarterly for IA portfolios
Reporting Features Easily accessible forms and statements by email or U.S. mail
Tax-Loss Harvesting No
External Account Sinking/Consolidation No. Only with IBKR account.

User Experience

Desktop Experience

The website is easy to navigate and includes a robust dashboard and multiple screeners to aid investors in choosing portfolios that match their preferences. Forms and customer service information is readily available. 

Each portfolio includes details such as:

  • Minimum investment
  • Management fee
  • Returns
  • Sharpe ratio (a risk/return score)
  • Cost estimator
  • Holdings

Mobile Experience

Interactive Advisors does not have a mobile app for iOs or Android. According to a company representative, investors can access their accounts via their mobile phone, and the website is mobile-friendly, so you’ll replicate the desktop experience on your phone. Interactive Brokers does have a mobile app, but it doesn’t include access to the IA vertical.

Customer Service

Week-day phone customer service from highly-trained financial professionals is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Investors can also contact the company via chat and email. The FAQs are extensive as are the links to disclosures, forms, and platform details. The phone wait times and email response times are reasonable. 

Clients can discuss the platform and general investment-related questions with well-trained Investment Advisor Representatives. All of these professionals are licensed and have passed the Series 65 exam.   

  • Phone support from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET
  • Online chat
  • Email support
  • Extensive FAQs and disclosures

Security

Interactive Brokers ranks among the best for security practices. In addition to two-factor authentication, users can request a security device to use when logging into their accounts. There have been no data breaches within the last 30 days.

Client securities accounts are protected by the SIPC for the standard $500,000, including $250,000 cash protection. Interactive Brokers has an additional $30 million in insurance from Lloyds of London including $900,000 cash protection. The insurance protects against failure of the broker-dealer, not against market losses of investment values.

Education

Overall the Interactive Advisors educational content is focused on the portfolios you will be selecting from rather than the basics of investing. Most of the IA educational content is aggregated on the SmarterInvesting blog. The blog is designed to teach sound investment principles focusing on macro-economic trends, trading strategies, and investment best practices. The articles are categorized by investing, strategies, and market outlook.

The range of educational topics caters to all levels of investors from beginners seeking to understand volatility and advanced investors interested in the relationship between thin-margin companies and inflation. Many of the articles are written by participating investment management firms like State Street and Wisdom Tree and dovetail with the fund manager’s strategies. Interactive Advisors' customers can also visit the educational portal on the Interactive Brokers website with its wealth of educational content tailored towards active investors.

Commissions and Fees

The only fees clients pay are the asset management fees and underlying fund management expenses. There are no additional trading commissions and account withdrawals are free. Depending on the portfolio you choose, your AUM percent fees will vary. The fees for many of the IA-managed portfolios are among the lowest among robo-advisors, beginning at 0.08% AUM. The most costly managed portfolios charge 1.5% AUM. 

The higher fee portfolios typically include more speculative strategies or investment approaches that use complex strategies. These are best used by more advanced investors who are seeking strategies to surpass market returns and are comfortable with the greater risk in doing so.

Category Fee
Management fees for $5,000 account $4.00 - $75
Management fees for $25,000 account $20.00 - $375.00
Management fees for $100,000 account $80.00 - $1,500.00
Termination fees $0.00
Expense ratios  Portfolio-specific and depend upon portfolio chosen
Mutual funds N/A

Final Verdict

Interactive Advisors is an excellent platform for investors seeking a vast array of socially responsible portfolios as well as those seeking rock bottom pricing on widely diversified index fund portfolios. This robo-advisor will also appeal to strategy-oriented investors who have a defined market outlook but want to automate the process of acting on it. Simply put, investors who don’t need investment guidance will appreciate the variety of choices on the IA platform. Existing IBKR customers seeking managed portfolios are natural customers for IA and may use them to automate a portfolio while maintaining their self-directed holdings. Overall, the Interactive Advisors platform is full of choices, easy to navigate, and questions are answered responsively. 

That said, Interactive Advisors does have feature gaps compared to some of its competitors. Investors seeking completely free investment management or tax-loss harvesting should look elsewhere. If you have a good idea of what you want to do with your portfolio and are looking for the maximum range of options, however, you will find what you need at Interactive Advisors.

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 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.

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