Betterment, the investing startup with $11 billion in assets, is rolling out a new service to make charitable giving easier

Jon stein ceo betterment 3BettermentBetterment CEO Jon Stein.
  • Betterment, a roboadviser with $US11 billion under management, announced a charitable giving feature on Wednesday that allows users to donate shares of their portfolio to more than 11 charities.
  • Roboadvisers like Betterment provide financial advice online or via a smart phone app and utilise algorithms to determine where to invest.

Betterment, the New York-based roboadviser, announced Wednesday a charitable giving feature that allows users to donate shares of their account to partnered charities.

The firm, which manages $US11 billion for over 270,000 customers, partnered with 11 charities for the launch of Betterment Charitable Giving, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, UNICEF, and World Wildlife Fund, according to a news release.

Users of the feature select how much money they want to donate to a certain charity, and Betterment funds it with their highest performing shares. Betterment users set a target allocation for their portfolios and then have funds directed to various asset classes, ranging from US large caps to emerging market bonds.

BettermentBetterment Charitable Giving.

Charity accounts under $US1 million will be managed by Betterment at no expense, according to a spokesperson for the company.

The company said the service provides a better way to donate than credit cards because there are no processing fees. It can also save folks money on their taxes because they might not have to pay capital gains on the shares they donate.

“Betterment wants to help manage important financial aspects of our customers’ lives — from saving for retirement to looking for ways to financially support the causes they care about,” said Jon Stein, CEO of Betterment. “We’re launching the Charitable Giving service to provide a vehicle that makes the giving process easy, accessible, and even more impactful.”

The company expects the list of partnered charities to continue to grow.

Roboadvisers provide financial advice or portfolio management online or via a smartphone application. Rather than using human managers to build portfolios, they use algorithms to determine where to invest.

In order to standout in a crowded marketplace, roboadvisers have been putting an even greater emphasis on rolling out unique product offerings, according to BackendBenchmarking’s “The Robo Report.”

“Many are turning to investment themes to help differentiate their platforms,” the report said.

“Wealthsimple recently announced a portfolio that stays compliant with Islamic investing principles,” the report said. “Hedgeable pursues active management and momentum rebalancing strategies, while TIAA offers an active management strategy option.”

As for Betterment, the firm this year has rolled out a hybrid service that pairs human help with their computerised advice, and struck a deal with Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs for a smart-beta portfolio option.

The firm also launched a socially responsible investing portfolio, According to research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, 93% of US millennials show a high preference for impact investing. And with millennials poised to inherit roughly $US30 trillion from Baby Boomers, according to a UBS white paper, catering to this investment preference will be integral to future growth for Wall Street firms.

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