Missouri’s SogoTrade owns the MarketRiders wealth management software as well as the Sogo Asset Management robo-advisory. MarketRiders provides automated portfolio management services for client funds held at the brokerage. The advisor’s business name was changed from SogoMarketRiders in 2018, but there are numerous references to the old identity, complicated by clumsy interlinking between MarketRiders.com and SogoMarketRiders.com.
SogoTrade, operating from a New York front office, has folded the robo-advisor into its larger asset management facilities, with MarketRider clients accessing a subset of the broader service menu. However, differences and divisions between management programs are poorly documented, with conflicting procedures adding to inadequate disclosures found throughout.
New clients must open an account at SogoTrade at the time of funding and have no procedure to transfer existing accounts. All portfolio allocations are made through no-fee and low-fee exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The hefty 0.75% management fee gets even higher for smaller accounts due to a minimum of $5.00 per month. MarketRiders also offers do-it-yourself portfolio management through subscription-based software that gives buy and sell signals but no trade executions. For this review, we are focusing mainly on the Core Portfolios offering.
Classic market principles
Impressive educational resources
Responsive customer service
Ability for clients to talk with an advisor
Weak disclosures and documentation
Smaller accounts incur higher fees due to a $5 monthly minimum
No tax-loss harvesting
No automatic deposits
New clients have to leave MarketRiders.com to reach the robo-advisory, referred to as the SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service, at SogoMarketRiders.com. However, the original site still holds the majority of details and disclosures. Adding to this confusion, you are taken to a Sogo Asset Management interface, with different contact information and no links back to MarketRiders. You have to read the SEC advisory disclosure in detail to see how it fits together with SogoMarketRiders.com because the site does a poor job disclosing that information.
SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service supports individual, joint, trust, and retirement accounts. A one-page entry form covers six basic questions that generate a proposed portfolio under one of four categories, while a context link explains secondary categorization that includes terms like “Starter,” “Power,” and “Diversified Income.” The output includes a list of proposed ETF purchases, which is refreshing because the robo-advisor provides this information before it requests your personal data, unlike many similar services.
While the account setup is straightforward, it is not clear what you actually need to start a portfolio. The MarketRider FAQ states that $2,500 is needed to open an account, while the SEC ADV 2A disclosure says it’s just $1,000. The FAQ also features a table indicating that a $25,000 account will include four ETFs, rising to six funds at $50,000. However, the free test drive generates much longer ETF lists, adding to the confusion about the underlying methodology and management techniques.
SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service goal planning and tracking needs some work. As part of the service, you can talk with a financial advisor, but it isn’t clear if you can speak to these individuals one time or “on demand.” The questionnaire asks how much money your account should be holding when it reaches the target date but provides no goal planning or tracking tools to make realistic calculations. Adding to these concerns, the entry system doesn’t flag unrealistic answers, potentially allowing poorly-skilled clients to assume that they can reach overly optimistic goals.
For example, if you choose a five-year holding period with a $10,000 starting investment and a $25,000 “final” outcome (necessitating an annualized 50% return), the system generates a defensive “Diversified Income-Starter” category with a 75% bond allocation. This marks a major omission and a red flag because it’s an advisor’s job to protect clients from bad decisions and unrealistic outcomes.
We’ve also assumed that additional goal planning tools aren’t included in the account interface because weak disclosures refer only to monthly statements and a charting function that lets clients review performance over different time periods. A blog with dozens of articles features general but useful advice on retirement, college savings, large purchases, and other types of financial planning. That is, however, a poor replacement for the goal planning and tracking services built into other robo-advisors.
SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service doesn’t offer you many account services for its above-average fee compared to other robo-advisors. Funding your account is handled through SogoTrade, but there’s no FAQ on bank account linking, which is a standard feature at most robo-advisors. MarketRiders offers no banking services or margin use, and clients cannot borrow from the account or place individual trades. More importantly, there’s no facility for automatic deposits, raising confusion on how to add money to the account.
According to the FAQ, clients access a “sophisticated report function where you can look at your portfolio's performance in a variety of ways,” but it’s the only documentation on account management at either site, so it’s hard to tell exactly what the comment means. Withdrawals can be requested from your account page, and it takes between four and 10 business days to receive funds.
You have no control of your assets after account funding, which may not be an issue if you aren’t looking to avoid or increase exposure to specific sectors. This approach is understandable, as MarketRiders has the do-it-yourself subscription service for investors that want more control. That said, there are other robo-advisories that allow additional customization without putting all the management on you. The account documentation is also missing key features that have become standard at rival robo-advisors, including tax-loss harvesting, mobile apps, and overnight cash sweeps.
Setting up and funding a portfolio with SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service is quick, but the customization options are limited, as previously mentioned. Your proposed portfolio with ETF allocations appears after you fill out the questionnaire, along with a conservative-aggressive slider that shows relative positioning on the scale. The slider can’t be moved manually, and multiple attempts to generate specific points on the slider by changing inputs failed, making it unclear as to how allocations are chosen and how you can force modifications.
The setup process offers no customization after the questionnaire, with no personal choices, socially responsible instruments, or other thematic investing options. The portfolios are populated exclusively with no-fee and low-fee funds with expense ratios below 0.20%, which fits with Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) principles. You are responsible for the ETF fees, as well as any redemption or early termination costs. The 0.75% fee covers any trading commissions. MarketRiders does not offer stocks, mutual funds, or direct fixed-income products through the SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service.
SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service has not done a very good job at explaining how it manages your portfolio. The SEC ADV-2 advisory disclosure contains some additional portfolio information not found on the site. It describes the Core Portfolio, stating that it uses “a set of globally diversified stock and bond allocations comprised of low-cost, liquid, well-diversified, index-tracking ETFs from various providers.” The disclosure also describes a Risk Optimized Portfolio (also referred to as Power Portfolios) requiring $25,000 or more. This offering is designed to “outperform certain market indices at various levels of risk by incorporating strategies to better reduce portfolio volatility than is possible with MarketRiders’ core portfolios.”
Marketing materials indicate that human advisors monitor the algorithmic process that is based on MPT, changing allocations when needed. Rebalancing is conducted in reaction to changes in account level, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Documentation for the “do-it-yourself” software states that clients receive notice of rebalancing “two to four times per year, depending on market conditions.” There isn’t another quantitative comment on rebalancing at the three websites. So there is no way of knowing in advance how many automatic rebalances will take place in your portfolio annually.
Websites are mobile-ready, but SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service provides no mobile apps for any operating system. SogoTrade mobile apps feature standard trading platforms with no dedicated asset management capacity.
As you have probably guessed by this point in the review, it’s an exercise in frustration to navigate between websites, looking for information needed to build confidence in the service. MarketRiders’ FAQ and marketing materials contain little detailed information on account management features or goal planning, other than sending you to the SogoMarketRiders.com site, which contains less marketing and no FAQ. Even worse, there’s no link back to the original site, while clicking on the Sogo link opens to a third website, with no links to the other two sites. Even with the ADV 2A linked in the footer, it is hard to take it as the source of truth when the FAQ contradicts it in several places.
SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service offers prompt customer service. The contact link provides a mailing address, phone number, email address, and a Live Chat link for new and prospective clients. The phone number and email address are prominently displayed throughout both MarketRider websites, making it easy for you to get in touch. You can fill out an entry form as well, choosing one of six categories. The lack of service hours marks an omission (SogoTrade posts hours that may not be applicable given different numbers), but several phone calls reached representatives within two minutes during market hours.
As mentioned, the FAQ is missing key information, including a detailed description of account management services and ways to solve common issues. There are no funding or bank link instructions, raising confusion about setup and adding money to the funded account. The Investment Methodology FAQ is similarly bare-boned, featuring a long-winded description on how ETFs work and two brief paragraphs on asset allocation and market timing.
Education & Security
SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service's educational materials are impressive, covering a variety of topics through a well-organized menu, but many articles look outdated. The same holds true with a few marketing pages, including one that uses 2013 market performance data. Webinars feature just three presentations on Adobe Flash, which is scheduled for retirement due to security flaws. Those video streams did not work on the latest version of the Chrome browser.
Neither MarketRiders.com nor SogoMarketRiders.com uses SSL encryption until you enter the application process, and there’s no two-factor authentication. The websites retain personal information, but the company claims that it does not sell this information to third parties. SogoTrade holds all client funds, providing access to Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) insurance and excess insurance.
Commissions & Fees
Sogo Asset Management charges you a 0.75% wrap fee for advisory services, with a minimum of $5.00 per month. That requirement raises the fee above 0.75% on all accounts less than $8,000. This isn’t disclosed by the company, but it is basic math as the annual percentage fee on $8,000 is $60, matching the minimum of $5 over 12 months. Therefore, any amount below $8,000 is paying in excess of 0.75%, with the minimum account balance of $1,000 (as per the ADV 2A) paying the equivalent of a steep 6% of assets under management annually. As previously mentioned, you aren’t charged trading fees but you do incur fees charged by ETFs after purchase. SogoTrade also lists fees for wire transfers, termination, and account transfers to other brokers that may or may not apply to SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service.
Is SogoTrade a Good Fit For You?
All robo-advisors, including SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service, are a relatively recent innovation in the financial world. As with anything new, the responsibility is on the provider to explain it to the target customer – and many robo-advisors do an admirable job of it. Right now, SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service is not one of them. Documentation is scarce and a misplaced FAQ at MarketRider.com fails to address important portfolio construction and account management issues. Overall, disjointed websites, weak encryption, a lack of mobile apps, and scattered disclosures are likely to send many prospective clients to some of those other robo-advisors.
Most issues are easy to resolve with a web rebuild that integrates everything onto a unified platform and adds missing details to FAQs and disclosures. Perhaps better site integration and a much closer look “under the hood” would also build trust levels, especially if paired with detailed previews of the account management interface and its features. As it stands right now, however, it is hard to recommend SogoMarketRider’s Managed Service when investors can access rival offerings with lower fees, more account management features, clearer information, and portfolios built on the same MPT principles.
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