The best online financial advisers

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The best online financial advisers

AdviserStandout features Fees / Min. balance

Wealthfront

Open Account »

Low cost, only robo-adviser offering 529 plans 0.25% AUM

$US500 min. balance


Betterment

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Robo-investing plus affordable access to personalised human advice 0.25% – 0.40% AUM

$US0 – $US100,000 min. balance


SoFi

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Access to various financial products, plus expert advice $US0


Blooom

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Smart 401(k) management, plus expert advice $US95 – $US250 per year

$US0 min. balance

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Human-first financial advice and low-cost investment management 0.05% – 0.30% AUM

$US50,000 min. balance

Online financial advisers are more accessible, and often cheaper, than advisers who work face-to-face. And increasingly, they’re offering more than just investment management.

In our search for the best online financial advisers, we looked for companies with easy-to-use investing platforms and experts that help with your overall financial plan or answer your most pressing questions at an affordable price point – because investing doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Pros and cons

Wealthfront

New wealthfront logo feature Wealthfront

Editor’s rating4.8 out of 5Fees0.25% AUMAccount Minimum$US500PromotionBusiness Insider readers who sign up for a Wealthfront investment account will receive their first $US5,000 managed for free in that account in perpetuity.
Open Account

Pros

  • Low AUM fee
  • Automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting (no minimum balance)
  • Financial planning tools that make personalised recommendations created by a team of PhDs
  • Offers 529 college savings plans in addition to retirement accounts and individual taxable accounts
  • Fee-free hybrid savings and checking account

Cons

  • No fee discount for higher balances
  • $US500 account minimum
  • Investment options limited to ETFs

Learn more about Wealthfront »

Betterment

Betterment LogoBetterment

Editor’s rating5 out of 5Fees0.25% – 0.40% AUAccount Minimum$US0 – $US100,000 min. balance
Open Account

Pros

  • Half the cost of Personal Capital for similar services
  • Automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting (no minimum balance)
  • Complimentary, ongoing financial advice for clients with a balance above $US100,000
  • Access to retirement planning tools without transferring your account
  • Fee-free checking and cash reserve accounts
  • Betterment Advisor Network connects clients to independent CFP® professionals
  • Socially responsible investing portfolio strategy available

Cons

  • AUM fee increases for higher balances, although it includes free financial planning
  • For balances below $US100,000, one-time financial planning packages run $US199 to $US299
  • Investment options limited to ETFs

Learn more about Betterment »

SoFi

Sofi logoSoFi

Editor’s rating5 out of 5Fees none Account Minimum$US0
Open Account

Pros

  • No upfront costs to open and maintain an automated investing account (but fees are charged in the underlying funds you own)
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • No fee stock and ETF trading (includes fractional shares)
  • Members get discounts on loans, career advancement tools, and free consultations with CFP® professionals
  • Fee-free hybrid savings and checking account

Cons

  • No tax-loss harvesting on investment accounts
  • Products and services are geared toward millennials
  • Automated investing accounts are managed by an algorithm only
  • Investment options for automated investing are limited to ETFs

Learn more about SoFi »

Blooom

BlooomBlooom

Editor’s rating4.6 out of 5Fees$US95 – $US250 per year Account Minimum$US0
Open Account

Pros

  • One of the few online advisers managing 401(k)s
  • Free tool that will analyse your workplace plan or IRA and compare your current investments to your time horizon and risk tolerance
  • Ongoing monitoring and automatic rebalancing of your accounts
  • Financial advisers available via a chat box to answer questions about anything related to your finances, not just retirement

Cons

  • The flat fee is higher on lower balances – e.g. the $US120 per year fee for one account is equal to 1.2% on a $US10,000 balance
  • Only supports retirement accounts held at Schwab, Fidelity, or Vanguard
  • Financial planning is not comprehensive

Learn more about Blooom »

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Vanguard.jfifVanguard

Editor’s rating4.6 out of 5Fees0.05% – 0.30% AUMAccount Minimum$US50,000 Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
Pros

  • Low AUM fee
  • Good for clients at any life stage
  • Fee discounts for higher balances
  • Financial planners help you create a comprehensive financial plan before diving into investment strategy
  • Help with estate planning, tax planning, and charitable giving

Cons

  • $US50,000 account minimum
  • No automatic tax-loss harvesting; done on a case-by-case basis

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

How we chose the best financial advisers

We compared 15 Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs), weighing the following five categories equally.

Fees: What are the costs? Are they justified when considering the services offered?

Access: Who can use the service? Is it limited to a certain geographic location or available nationwide?

Ethics: Are the experts Certified Financial Planners and/or fiduciaries? Does the company have any disciplinary history over the past three years? What is the company’s investing philosophy?

Services: What is included for the cost? What else do you get working with this company (savings or checking accounts, budgeting tools, financial advice)?

Minimum balance: What is the minimum balance for an investment account? Is it accessible for beginners?

Other online financial advisers we considered

How to find an in-person financial adviser

If you’d rather meet with an expert face-to-face, here are the best free online tools for finding one in your area:

Frequently asked questions

Why trust our recommendations?

Personal Finance Insider’s mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that “best” is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product, we outline the limitations, too. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products and services so you don’t have to.

What is the best financial adviser company?

The best financial adviser depends on what you’re looking for. There are typically two categories: so-called robo-advisers, which use computer algorithms to create an investment portfolio and offer advice, and hybrid advisers, which combine technology and human advice, sometimes at a higher price point.

Someone seeking comprehensive and personalised advice should consider Betterment – which offers one-time financial planning packages for a fee as well as complimentary, ongoing financial advice for clients with a balance above $US100,000 – or Vanguard Personal Advisor Services – which helps clients with a balance above $US50,000 create a full financial plan before turning to investment strategy.

Is a financial adviser worth it?

Not everyone needs a financial adviser – human or otherwise. However, you should consider paying a financial adviser if you need specific advice on your finances or investment strategy or you’re too overwhelmed or confused by your money to plan for retirement or invest in the stock market.

Most online financial advisers charge clients monthly or quarterly. You can always cancel if you don’t feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

How do I choose a good financial adviser?

A financial adviser is a catch-all term for financial planners and investment advisers. Most online advisers offer both investment management – whether it’s carried out by a human or a sophisticated computer algorithm – and financial planning services or tools.

It’s imperative to look for financial advisers who follow the fiduciary rule, meaning they operate in their clients’ best interest, and are fee-only. This means client fees are their only compensation and they don’t earn commission when you invest in certain funds or buy financial products.

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