The past two years have been a period of intense competition and consolidation in the robo-advisor arena. It’s also been a time of expansion as customers ask more from their digital advice platforms, and the providers continue to introduce new features and products in the spirit of customer retention and growth.
Many of the largest robo-advisors, such as Wealthfront and BlackRock, have been acquired by larger wealth managers to scale their existing platforms or help their buyer expand.
Others, like Betterment and Interactive Advisors, have remained independent and scaled their offerings.
“Go Big or Go Home” has been the mantra for this industry over the past few years, but now robo-advisors are starting to play by Burger King’s rules by telling their customers to, “Have it your way,” as it relates to portfolio enhancements and customization. These digital advice platforms know customers want more options when it comes to their portfolios, better tax-loss harvesting efficiencies, and more products to centralize their financial lives. It’s no surprise that some robo-advisors have moved into banking, lending, 401(k) plans, and other services offered by traditional banks and asset managers.
At the end of the day, the best robo-advisors are those that respond to their customers' growing needs while continuing to improve the core offerings that have made them successful to date: Automated investing, responsible guidance, great technology and excellent customer service. Our 2022 Best Robo-Advisors Award honorees reflect those that made their platforms better in ways that really matter to investors today.
Best Overall: Wealthfront
For those seeking an elite automated financial solution, Wealthfront is our top pick. It boasts a comprehensive suite of investment management products, robust goal-setting and planning tools, and daily tax-loss harvesting to help users more easily reach their financial goals. Overall, the platform's high-quality digital features and competitive fees makes Wealthfront one of the strongest robo-advisors available.
On Wednesday, January 26, 2022, Wealthfront announced that it has agreed to be acquired by one of the premier brands in wealth management, UBS, in a transaction valued at $1.4 billion. David Fortunato, Wealthfront’s Chief Executive Officer, has since reassured current and prospective customers that there will be no change to the platform experience, accounts, or cost of service.
Best for Beginners: Betterment
Betterment is best for beginners thanks to its incredibly user-friendly experience and no minimum deposit requirement. The platform seamlessly integrates education resources to help inform user strategy, and the straightforward registration and funding processes make it easy for investors of all experience levels to get started. It also continues to expand its offerings beyond traditional investing and tax-loss harvesting.
Best for Low Costs: M1 Finance
M1 Finance doesn’t charge fees for trading or account management, which makes it our low-cost winner. This robo-advisor is well-suited for individual investors looking to put their dollars toward more investments rather than maintenance. Despite its low costs, M1 offers a variety of portfolio customization options and investment vehicles to choose from, giving you more control over your portfolio.
Best for Mobile: E*TRADE Core Portfolios
The E*TRADE Core Portfolio app is slick and offers access to all the portfolio management features right through your smartphone, which makes it the best robo-advisor for those who want portfolio management right at their fingertips at any time. The E*TRADE mobile app is designed to showcase fewer questionnaires, timeline and goal setting prompts to keep focus on the investments. Sign-up is easy, too.
Best for Goal Planning: Wealthfront
Wealthfront is also our winner for Best for Goal Planning thanks to numerous goal-setting options, free digital planning tools, and progress trackers which can be easily adapted to meet your individual financial needs. The Path and Self-Driving Money tool in particular helps users evaluate the tradeoffs of several goals and automatically fund those goals with extra cash for a low cost of 0.25%.
Best for Portfolio Construction: Interactive Advisors
With more than 50 portfolio strategies to choose from, Interactive Advisors wins our best portfolio construction award. This robo-advisor offers a wide array of investment vehicles, including fractional shares, stocks, ETFs, REITS, and mutual funds, which means it’s well-suited for investors who use multiple portfolio strategies.
Best for Portfolio Management: Personal Capital
Personal Capital takes the top spot for best portfolio management thanks to its elevated tax features and a hybrid approach to robo-portfolio management for high net-worth investors. Most notably, the platform considers different account statuses when moving assets and making withdrawals alongside more traditional tax-loss harvesting. Human advisors are also available to offer guidance on Personal Capital’s many portfolio customization options.
Best for Cash Management: Betterment
Betterment is also our winner for best robo-advisor for cash management thanks to the integration of its check account and cash reserve products. The Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve accounts are FDIC-insured and give investors transaction options similar to what they would get at a more traditional bank. The smooth integration makes Betterment a good option for those looking to manage their money more holistically, beyond their investment portfolio.
Best for Education: Merrill Guided Investing
The millions of new traders who recently entered the market can benefit greatly from the deep library of videos, articles, tools, and goal setting resources that Merril Guided Investing offers. This robo-advisor’s educational catalog can be tailored to your experience and investing goals, too, so it's great for anyone who wants to learn more. Whether you’re planning for retirement, saving for a house, or interested in a new portfolio strategy, this platform can give you a boost.
Best for Sustainable Investing: Interactive Advisors
While more investors are looking for more ESG and sustainable investing options, Interactive Advisors gives investors ways to build and easily manage a portfolio that is aligned with their values. Sustainable funds, pre-built portfolios, and screening tools help users invest through a socially conscious lens and put this robo-advisor a step above the rapidly growing competitive field.
Best for Sophisticated Investors: M1 Finance
In addition to low costs, there are more than 80 different pre-built portfolios to choose from on M1 Finance along with a large number of customization options. This robo-advisor is a first-class option for sophisticated investors who want lots of portfolio control and flexibility, which are must-haves for seasoned investors.
Why We Do It
Finding the right robo-advisor to achieve your financial goals is more challenging than ever given the abundance of products available today. To make it easier, we evaluated over 20 robo-advisors to determine which provide the best solutions and experiences for investors in 2022. What we've created is a comprehensive set of reviews and rankings that will allow any investor to find the right robo-advisor for them.
To find out more about how we picked our top robo-advisors, read our full methodology.