Wealthfront is now managing $20 billion, and it says something big about how differently millennials treat their money

Millennials are drawn to robo-advisers like Wealthfront for ease of use and low costs. iStock

Millennials are growing increasingly comfortable with robots handling their cash.

Wealthfront, an online investing platform, now holds $US20 billion in client assets, according to a tweet from Daniel Carroll, Wealthfront’s founder and chief strategy officer. That’s nearly double the amount of money the robo-adviser managed at the start of 2019, he said.

Having navigated their teenage and early adult years alongside the dawn of the internet and smartphones, millennials appear less sceptical than other generations of using nonhuman advisers to invest their money. A survey by Global X ETFs, a New York-based provider of exchange-traded funds, found that one in five millennials with over $US100,000 in investable assets said they were comfortable with using a robo-adviser, compared with 11% of Gen Xers and 3% of baby boomers.

“Millennials use robo-advisers because they remove the perceived ‘guess work’ out of investing, which provides a measure of comfort to hesitant millennial investors,” Business Insider Intelligence’s Andrew Meola previously reported. “And often, robo-advisers offer cheaper fees than human advisers, which also makes them attractive to this group.”

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Wealthfront offers a suite of investment accounts, including traditional, SEP, and Roth IRAs for retirement savings; 529 college savings plans; individual and joint taxable accounts; and trusts. Wealthfront charges a low advisory fee of 0.25%, in addition to per fund expense ratios of 0.07% to 0.16%. To invest, clients need a minimum balance of just $US500.

The robo-adviser also offers tax-loss harvesting for investors at every level and free financial planning.

In a 2018 analysis of client data, Wealthfront found that its youngest investors had the highest savings rates. Those ages 20 to 25 were saving 18% of their annual pretax salary, on average – about triple the national average savings rate.

Wealthfront’s cash account earned savers $US10 million in interest in the first 4 months

Wealthfront’s huge growth so far in 2019 is attributable, at least in part, to its efforts to branch out beyond investing.

In February, Wealthfront made its first foray into traditional banking with the debut of its Cash Account, a high-yield-savings-like account offering a 2.24% APY on all balance tiers. Over the next several months, Wealthfront steadily increased the rate on its cash account, topping out at a whopping 2.57%.

In the first four months, Wealthfront says, its clients earned a total of $US10 million in interest on their cash accounts.

Wealthfront reduced the APY on its high-yield account in August in response to the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate cut. The Cash Account now offers an industry-leading 2.32% APY and is still fee-free, requires a minimum opening deposit of just $US1, allows unlimited transfers, and is FDIC-insured up to $US1 million.

Wealthfront recommends its cash account for storing money that’s going to be used within five years, whether it’s an emergency fund, a down payment for a home, or a coming expense. Savers shoring up cash to invest can also easily transfer money from a cash account into an investment account at Wealthfront.

Carroll told Business Insider that Wealthfront was working to expand its traditional banking offers with direct deposit, bill pay, and a debit card.

Learn more about Wealthfront »