Swell Investing, a California-based automated investing service backed by Pacific Life Insurance, sent an email to its customers informing them that they were "not able to achieve the scale needed to sustain operations in the current market." Beginning Wednesday, July 24, 2019, Swell no longer accepted new clients or deposits, and any accounts with a $0 or negative balance were closed.
Swell was founded with a noble mission: to help its clients invest in firms that are working towards at least one of the United Nations' 17 goals for sustainability. They had curated lists of publicly-traded companies organized into themes, including Green Tech, Renewable Energy, Clean Water, and Disease Eradication.
The minimum to open an account was $50, and their management fee was 0.70% per year for assets under management. That's a higher fee than most robo-advisors or automated investing platforms charge, but the firm put a lot of work into selecting the stocks for their clients. Companies were screened to make sure that their businesses create a positive impact, and which environmental or social issues the firms were addressing. "Our portfolios are made up of the companies that we believe to be the cream of the crop," Swell says about how stocks are chosen.
Clients were instructed to withdraw their funds by August 30, 2019, and that their cash and securities would be transferred to Folio Investments, Inc., unless instructions to transfer to a different brokerage were specified by the customer.
If you're looking for impact-oriented portfolios that are built out of individual stocks, check out M1 Investing and Motif Investing. These firms don't have the vetting methodology in place that Swell used, but they allow fine-tuning of a portfolio built according to your specifications and a wide range of other possible investments.