Friday, May 13, 2016


So in addition to Personal Capital the other investing tool (other than my legacy accounts at USAA, which I have been reducing to limit my capitol gains exposure and to lower my overall cost (which I figured out from Personal Capital's Fee Analyzer and Investment Checkup ) is Betterment ( or better yet (since that is a win-win link, you get the cool features of Betterment for a 6 month for free, so do I (for a month), not that their fees are bad). Betterment is one of several "Robo-Investors" that have little to no personal contact, using questionnaires to determine what the ideal risk is for the investor and then giving them the tools to execute a portfolio based on that risk profile.

So there are always going to be people out there that will tell you that any fee's are bad and to avoid them at all cost, putting the entire sum into market tracking ETF (the current main love of most PF people is Vanguard, with their low entry cost, low fee on the ETF's). But I think that there are a few features of Betterment that offer some value to everyone but the most motivated investors:

  • Tax Loss Harvesting:
  • Automatic Re-balancing
    • In addition to spreading your investment across multiple assets (to give you an acceptable level of diversification) they will also re-balance your portfolio if it strays significantly from your ideal ratio (if it hits more than a 3% aggregate difference). It will also invest any additional money you put in to bring the investment ratio back to your target. 
  • No transaction fee (but there is a cost)
    • While they do charge a baseline fee (currently .35% for 0-10k, .25% for 10k-100k, and .15 for any amount above 100k) any additional costs for the features above (and for putting new funds in or pulling them out) is rolled into that baseline fee.
I think this Robo-Investor trend is pretty neat (I am a technologist after all) and it makes getting into investing a lot easier for the novices to journeyman level investors.

The one feature that is lacking and may cause me to defect to another Robo-investor is a lack lack of options for UGMA/UTMA (Uniform Gift/Transfer to Minors Act) to put my kids money in. I do use a 529 for my kids (my state plan allows for me to deduct from State taxes so that works for me) but outside of some initial large gifts to my kids that went into the 529, the rest goes into their personal account. But savings accounts are a joke so I have at least some of their money now as "sub" accounts on my Betterment account (another neat feature, you can create multiple investing goals, all with different target portfolios).

No comments: