Betterment, a Forbes Advisor partner, is one of the pioneers of the robo-advisor approach to investing. After more than a decade in the business, we believe that no other platform offers as much value to its customers as Betterment.
Betterment scored highly across all categories. The basic Betterment Digital service tier charges a competitive annual fee equal to 0.25% of your balance, and there’s no minimum balance requirement. Savers with higher balances looking for more advanced services can take advantage of Betterment Premium, which comes with access to live financial advisors.
Create an account, pick your goals and enter a few personal details, and Betterment places you in a risk-appropriate portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). We would note that your portfolio will include around a dozen ETFs, some of which may charge high fees. This isn’t an optimal approach, in our opinion, as you can get all the diversification you need with just three or four ultra-low-cost ETFs.
One note for those who pick the emergency fund option: You may end up in a portfolio (made up of 15% stocks/85% bonds) that’s a bit too risky for your blood. Should you need the money after a layoff following an economic downturn, chances are you’ll be selling low.
Betterment offers alternative portfolios to choose from, too, including one focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. The platform provides automatic tax-loss harvesting as well as a tax-coordinated portfolio option that structures your stock and bond allocation to optimize your tax treatment.
In addition to a standard taxable account option, long-term savers should check out Betterment’s retirement accounts, including a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) choice, a Roth IRA and a SEP IRA option for small business owners.
Once you have $100,000 in your account, you’ll qualify for the Betterment Premium tier of service, which comes with unlimited consultations with Betterment financial planning professionals and a higher annual fee of 0.40%. If you prefer the lower 0.25% fee, you can opt to remain on the Betterment Digital service tier with balances over $100,000.