Top 5 investment robo-advisors

It can be tough to decide how to best invest your money, or who to pick to handle it. Tom Merritt suggests five robo-advisors that can help make the task easier.

Managing investments is tricky--you'd like to just forget about it and let it grow, but if you want to maximize it, you need to pay more attention. You have so much work to do and so little time! Maybe when you retire but.... Enter the robo-advisor. The idea is that you give some ideas on risk tolerance and goals, and it monitors the market for you, automatically manages your portfolio, and invests your money in the appropriate mix of stocks and bonds. Here are five robo-advisors.

  1. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios: You answer a questionnaire about your goals, and it automatically balances. It has a zero-fee structure--you pay operating expenses on the exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in your portfolio. A minimum balance of $5,000 is required.
  2. Betterment: Good for new investors. It has no minimum balance; you answer a risk questionnaire, and it will automatically mix low-fee stock and bond index funds. Premium plans offer calls with financial planners.
  3. Wealthfront: Good if you like to really keep your hands off. It uses a risk questionnaire to build your portfolio. You need a minimum investment of $500, but there are no fees until you have $10,000--then the fee becomes 0.25% of your assets under management (AUM).
  4. Personal Capital: This one offers a suite of financial planning tools along with calls--good if you want access to an advisor. You can connect your bank account to track spending and savings. Fees range from 0.49% to 0.89%. The more you invest, the lower your fee--though it has to be a million to get your first fee reduction.
  5. Vanguard: This one is for the serious investors--you need a minimum of $50,000 and fees are 0.3%. It also gives you access to human advisors. Vanguard's index funds are popular investments too, even for people without accounts at Vanguard.

Well, there you go--for the person who just wants to let the robots invest for them to the person who needs to call and talk to someone about how the robots invest for you, there's something for everyone. And these are just five--there are dozens out there from other reputable banks and institutions.

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