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Robo-advisors are a great option for investors who are looking to automate the investment management process at a cost below that of traditional financial advisors. But sometimes you just need to talk to a human being. Fortunately, there are robo-advisors that offer this option including some that offer access to certified financial planners (CFP).
Here’s what else you should know about robo-advisors and the ones that offer a human advisor option.
What is a robo-advisor?
Robo-advisors use algorithms to build an investment portfolio for you based on your answers to a handful of questions about your risk tolerance and investment goals. Many robo-advisors also offer other features such as tax-loss harvesting and automatic rebalancing, which can boost your returns and make investing as hands-off as possible.
The best robo-advisors have fees that are considerably lower than those of traditional financial advisors and you can typically get started with limited savings.
Traditional financial advisors
A traditional human financial advisor can also help you build an investment portfolio, as well as help with several other areas of your financial life. You can build a financial plan, save for retirement, get help with estate planning and much more when you work with a financial advisor. But these additional services come with a much higher cost than robo-advisors and you may need a healthy chunk of change to get started.
5 robo-advisors with human advisors available
1. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios
Charles Schwab is one of the best online brokers and also has a top-notch robo-advisor offering in Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. Schwab offers a basic tier for free that offers portfolio management, automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting, though you’ll need $50,000 in assets to start tax-loss harvesting.
The premium tier is where you’ll find unlimited access to financial advisors with the certified financial planner (CFP) designation. The advisors act as fiduciaries, which means they’re required to put your interests before their own.
You’ll need $25,000 in assets for the premium tier and will pay a one-time $300 planning fee and then $30 per month after that. This would translate to an annual fee of 0.36 percent for someone with $100,000 in assets, but the fee declines on a percentage basis as your portfolio grows.
Betterment has been a leading robo-advisor for several years and offers two plans to meet its clients’ needs. Its basic digital plan does what robo-advisors are best known for: portfolio management, automatic rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting and more. You’ll pay 0.25 percent annually, though a monthly fee is charged for accounts with less than $20,000.
The premium plan is more expensive at 0.40 percent annually, but comes with unlimited access to financial advisors who hold the CFP designation. Advisors can help with questions about your investments, as well as other financial planning topics such as budgeting or education savings plans. However, you’ll need $100,000 to meet the premium plan’s minimum.
Those who are short of the $100,000 needed for the premium plan can purchase flat-fee advice packages with an advisor for $299-$399.
3. Fidelity Go
Fidelity Go is a strong robo-advisor offering for those who are looking to keep costs low and may not have significant sums to invest right away. Accounts with less than $25,000 won’t pay an advisory fee, while those with balances above $25,000 will pay 0.35 percent annually. Like other robo-advisors, Fidelity Go builds a portfolio based on your needs, but unlike most other robo-advisors you won’t pay additional fees for the funds you’re invested in. That’s because Fidelity Go uses zero-cost Fidelity mutual funds in its portfolios.
You’ll be able to schedule unlimited 30-minute calls with an advisor to answer questions you may have or to get help with an overall financial plan. The option to speak with an advisor is only available to fee-paying accounts, however, which means you’ll need at least $25,000.
4. SoFi Automated Investing
SoFi Automated Investing is one of the cheapest robo-advisor options in the industry. You won’t pay a management fee and your portfolio is invested in low-cost funds, which could help keep your total costs to around 0.10 percent annually. The one feature that SoFi lacks is tax-loss harvesting, which many robo-advisors include in their standard offering.
SoFi does allow you to speak with advisors who hold the CFP designation, who can help you develop a financial plan and guide you through the investing process. This offering makes SoFi one of the lowest cost ways to get help from a human financial advisor.
5. Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor offers much of what investors have come to love about robo-advisors. You’ll get portfolio management with low-cost funds, automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting if you opt-in to the service at no additional cost. The annual fee is above average for the industry at 0.35 percent, but can be reduced to 0.25 percent depending on the type of Wells Fargo checking account you have.
You’ll be able to speak with a financial advisor 5 days a week from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. ET. The advisors can help answer questions you may have if you’re new to investing or dig into the program’s details if you’d prefer. Wells Fargo makes the advisors available to all Intuitive Investor clients, whereas some robo-advisors limit financial advisor access to premium tiers.