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Written by Kevin Mercadante on June 19, 2021
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Top 8 Robo Advisors For Retirement Investing In 2021

Imagine retiring and not having any responsibility other than cashing a monthly check from your investments. That’s true retirement! No job, no schedule, and no managing your investments.

Back in the old days—like 10 years ago—you had to pay a human investment advisor anywhere between 1% and 2% of your portfolio value each year to provide that service. But now, you can get the same investment management for about 0.25% per year, or even lower.

That management comes from robo-advisors. They’ll provide professional, automated investment management, including portfolio design, security selection, regular rebalancing, dividend reinvesting, and even tax minimization strategies on taxable accounts.

For those who want a true retirement, we’ve prepared this list of the eight best robo-advisors for retirees. Each provides its own unique service level. Choose the one that best matches your investment needs and preferences, and you’ll be on your way to that worry-free retirement you’ve always dreamed of.

1. Personal Capital

Personal Capital Logo

Best for: Retirees with larger portfolios who want comprehensive wealth management with access to financial advisors.

Why Personal Capital is a good robo-advisor for retirees: Personal Capital takes top honors on our list because they can manage multiple accounts, freeing you from the job of managing your investments across the board. In addition, you’ll have access to certified financial planners—and even a dedicated CFP with a minimum account balance of $200,000. That will give you the best of automated investment management and live, human-guided investment advice. Personal Capital has a higher fee structure that any of the robo-advisors on this list, but that’s because they also offer a higher level of personal service.

Personal Capital Basic Features:

  • Minimum Initial Investment: $100,000 for wealth management, otherwise zero for the free financial tools (with no investment management).
  • Available accounts: Individual taxable investment accounts; trusts; traditional, Roth, SEP, and rollover IRAs. Advice—but not management—provided on 401(k) plans.
  • Investment mix: ETFs (exchange traded funds) invested in U.S. and foreign stocks and bonds, as well as real estate investment trusts, energy, and gold. U.S. equities will be held in individual stocks.
  • Fees: 0.89% on portfolios of $100,000 up to $1 million, then a sliding scale down to 0.49% on balances over $10 million.
  • Customer support: Phone or email 24/7; direct access to live financial advisors, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Pacific time.

Personal Capital Pros:

  • Comprehensive management of all investment accounts.
  • Unlimited access to financial advisors for account balances of at least $100,000, and a dedicated financial advisor with at least $200,000.
  • Portfolio management will include individual U.S. stocks for greater tax optimization.

Personal Capital Cons:

  • The $100,000 account minimum will eliminate many small and medium-size investors.
  • Advisory fee is well above what is charged by other robo-advisors.
  • The interest-bearing cash account has a very low rate of return.

2. Vanguard Digital Advisor

vanguard was founded on the theory from jack bogle that low cost index funds will provide an investor with great returns over time

Best for: Retirees who prefer investing in Vanguard funds.

Why Vanguard Digital Advisor is a good robo-advisor for retirees: When you invest with Vanguard, you’ll be investing with the world’s largest source of mutual funds, and the second largest provider of ETFs. What’s more, Vanguard funds are so popular—due to their low expense ratios—they are commonly included in the portfolios of other robo-advisors as well as traditional, human-guided investment advisors.

That’s the key to Vanguard Digital Advisor. Your account will be professionally managed, with one of the lowest fees in the industry, and composed of low-cost Vanguard funds. This is a new robo-advisor, but that’s hardly a problem when it’s part of the Vanguard family. As a retiree, you can use Vanguard Digital Advisor to manage both taxable investment accounts and your retirement accounts.

Vanguard Digital Advisor Basic Features:

  • Minimum Initial Investment: $3,000.
  • Available accounts: Individual taxable investment accounts; traditional, Roth, and rollover IRAs.
  • Investment mix: ETFs invested in U.S. and foreign stocks and bonds.
  • Fees: 0.15%.
  • Customer support: Phone, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Central time.

Vanguard Digital Advisor Pros:

  • One of the lowest advisory fees in the industry among robo-advisors that have fees.
  • Vanguard offers some of the most popular ETFs and mutual funds in the industry, as evidenced by the fact they are commonly included in the portfolios of other robo-advisors.
  • Personal Advisor Services is available for investors with a minimum of $50,000 and provides access to personal financial advisors.

Vanguard Digital Advisor Pies Cons:

  • Invests only in Vanguard funds.
  • New robo-advisor with no track record.

3. SoFi Automated Investing

Best for: No-fee investment management.

Why SoFi Automated Investing is a good robo-advisor for retirees: SoFi Automated Investing will manage your investments—both taxable and retirement accounts—with no advisory fee. You’ll also have access to financial advisors at no additional cost. And if you want to start small, you can open an account with no money at all. And if you want to participate in self-directed investing along with a managed account, you can do so through SoFi Active Investing, which also enables you to hold cryptocurrencies. The platform also offers plenty of other personal financial services, including student loan refinances, mortgages, and personal loans.

SoFi Automated Investing Basic Features:

  • Minimum Initial Investment: None, but minimum of $1 to begin investing.
  • Available accounts: Individual and joint taxable investment accounts, plus traditional, Roth, and rollover IRAs, as well as Keogh plans.
  • Investment mix: ETFs invested in U.S. and international stocks and bonds.
  • Fees: None.
  • Customer support: Phone, email and live chat, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Eastern time.

SoFi Automated Investing Pros:

  • No advisory fee.
  • No minimum initial investment required.
  • SoFi offers SoFi Active Investing for self-directed investing, which also includes cryptocurrencies. You get the benefit of both professional management and self-directed investing on the same platform.
  • Access to certified financial planners at no additional cost.
  • Offers other financial services, like student loan refinancing, mortgages, and personal loans.

SoFi Automated Investing Cons:

  • Investment options are limited to stocks and bonds only—there are no alternatives.

4. Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

Charles Schwab logo

Best for: Retirees who want a no-fee robo-advisor with the option to engage in self-directed trading on one of the best brokerage platforms in the industry.

Why Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios is a good robo-advisor for retirees: Charles Schwab is the largest retail investment broker in the world, and obviously a popular choice with investors. That means you can have part of your portfolio professionally managed through Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, while participating in active investing through a Charles Schwab brokerage account. Even better, Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios provides investment management at no fee, and invests your money in more asset classes than other robo-advisors. They also offer the Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium version that charges an advisory fee, but offers access to financial advisors.

Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Basic Features:

  • Minimum Initial Investment: $5,000 for a basic account, $25,000 for Premium.
  • Available accounts: Joint and individual taxable investment accounts; trusts; traditional, Roth, rollover, SIMPLE, and SEP IRAs.
  • Investment mix: 53 ETFs representing 20 asset classes. This will include a mix of stocks, fixed income, commodities, and cash.
  • Fees: $0 on the basic account, $30 per month for Premium.
  • Customer support: Phone and live chat, 24/7.

Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Pros:

  • Fee-free investment management on the basic account.
  • Invests in 20 asset classes, which is substantially more than the 6-12 used by competitors.
  • You can open a Charles Schwab brokerage account and participate in self-directed investing along with your managed option.
  • The Premium version is available, giving you access to live financial advisors.
  • Customer service is available on a 24/7 basis, and is among the best offered in the industry.

Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Cons:

  • Requires a minimum initial investment of $5,000, which may exclude smaller investors.
  • The portfolio includes an unusual amount of cash, reducing investment returns.
  • An interest-bearing cash account is available, but the interest rate is no better than local banks or credit unions.

5. Fidelity Go

fidelity logo

Best for: Retirees who want automated investment management with the option to engage in self-directed trading on one of the best brokerage platforms in the industry.

Why Fidelity Go is a good robo-advisor for retirees: Fidelity is the second largest retail brokerage in the world, so it’s not surprising it offers options similar to Charles Schwab. You can participate in self-directed investing through a Fidelity brokerage account, while having part of your portfolio managed through the Fidelity Go robo-advisor.

Compared to Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, Fidelity Go loses a few points because it has an advisory fee on accounts of $10,000 or more. But it likely makes up for this by investing your money in Fidelity Flex Funds. That’s a mix of active and passively managed funds with no expense ratios. That will increase your net investment returns, and at least partially offset the advisory fee.

Fidelity Go Basic Features:

  • Minimum Initial Investment: None, but $10 to begin investing.
  • Available accounts: Individual taxable investment accounts, and traditional, Roth, and rollover IRAs.
  • Investment mix: ETFs in U.S. and foreign stocks and bonds, as well as short-term investments.
  • Fees: None on balances under $10,000, then $3 per month on balances from $10,000 to $49,999, then 0.35% on balances of $50,000 and up.
  • Customer support: Phone support 24/7, live chat Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time, plus 140 branches nationwide.

Fidelity Go Pros:

  • No advisory fee on account balances up to $9,999.
  • No minimum required to open an account.
  • Your account will be invested in Fidelity Flex Funds that have no fund expenses.
  • 24/7 customer service access by phone.
  • You can also engage in self-directed investing given that Fidelity is one of the top brokerage firms in the world.

Fidelity Go Cons:

  • No alternative investments are included in your portfolio. However, those can be added through a self-directed brokerage account, if you choose to have one.
  • Advisory fee of 0.35% on account balances $50,000 and up is higher than the fee charged by other robo-advisors.

6. Wealthfront

Wealthfront review

Best for: Retirees who want comprehensive financial management with broader diversification, including high-interest savings and no-fee checking.

Why Wealthfront is a good robo-advisor for retirees: Wealthfront and Betterment are the two largest independent robo-advisors, so it’s hardly surprising their products and service levels closely match one another. But there are two important areas where Wealthfront outdoes Betterment. The first is inclusion of alternative investments in your portfolio, like real estate and natural resources for greater diversification. The second is more aggressive tax-loss harvesting strategies on larger accounts.

Most robo-advisors use tax-loss harvesting to minimize the tax liability generated in taxable investment accounts. It works by selling positions in declining asset classes, creating losses that will reduce the gains on winning classes. Wealthfront beats the competition in this category by including individual stocks on larger, taxable accounts. The use of individual stocks makes it possible to take advantage of more aggressive income tax reduction strategies.

Wealthfront Basic Features:

  • Minimum Initial Investment: $500.
  • Available accounts: Individual and joint taxable investment accounts; traditional, Roth, rollover, and SEP IRAs; trusts; and a high-yield cash account.
  • Investment mix: ETFs invested in U.S. and foreign stocks and bonds, real estate, and natural resources.
  • Fees: 0.25% advisory fee on all account balances.
  • Customer support: By phone, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Pacific time, as well as email responded to within one business day.

Wealthfront Pros:

  • Probably the best robo-advisor for tax-loss harvesting on larger taxable brokerage accounts.
  • Portfolio allocation includes alternative investments, like real estate and natural resources, offering broader diversification and the ability to benefit from inflation.
  • Offers a high-yield cash account, currently paying 0.35% APR, for your uninvested cash.
  • No-fee checking account with a Visa debit card.

Wealthfront Cons:

  • Annual advisory fee of 0.25% is at the middle of the robo-advisor fee range.

7. Betterment

Best for: Retirees who want comprehensive financial management, including high-interest savings and no-fee checking.

Why Betterment is a good robo-advisor for retirees: Betterment works similarly to Wealthfront. It has the advantage of having no minimum initial investment requirement, plus access to financial advisors on larger account balances. But it’s not quite as aggressive with tax-loss harvesting on taxable brokerage accounts as Wealthfront is. But it also offers a cash account with a current yield of 0.40% APR, which is many times higher than what’s currently being paid on accounts at banks and credit unions.

Betterment Basic Features:

  • Minimum Initial Investment: $0 for Digital, $100,000 for Premium.
  • Available accounts: Individual and joint taxable investment accounts; traditional, Roth, rollover, and SEP IRAs; trusts; and a high-interest cash account.
  • Investment mix: ETFs invested in U.S. and foreign stocks and bonds.
  • Fees: 0.25% on the Digital plan, 0.40% on the Premium plan.
  • Customer support: By phone and email, Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time.

Betterment Pros:

  • No minimum balance requirement to open a Digital account.
  • Some ETFs are invested in U.S. value stocks, giving you the potential to outperform the general market.
  • Access to live advisors with the Premium plan.
  • Offers a high-interest cash account, currently paying 0.40% APR.
  • Offers no-fee checking account with a Visa debit card.

Betterment Cons:

  • No alternative investments offered, like real estate and commodities.
  • The 0.25% advisory fee is only at about the middle of the robo-advisor fee range, while the 0.40% for the Premium plan is on the high end.

8. M1 Finance Expert Pies

Best for: Retirees who prefer to choose their own investments.

Why M1 Finance Expert Pies is a good robo-advisor for retirees: If you like the idea of having your investment portfolio professionally managed, but you prefer to choose your own investments, then M1 Finance Expert Pies is the right robo-advisor for you. And while that’s an unusual combination in the robo-advisor universe, they also provide this service completely free of charge.

M1 Finance Expert Pies uses a highly unique investment methodology. You’ll invest your money, using a method known as “pies.” Each pie requires a minimum investment of $100 and can be packed with up to 100 ETFs and individual stocks. Once created, each pie will be managed through the M1 robo-advisor, free of charge. You can create an unlimited number of pies in your account. And if you prefer, M1 finance offers at least 83 pre-built pies, sparing you the task of creating them for yourself. It’s the best mix of self-directed investing and automated management there is.

M1 Finance Expert Pies Basic Features:

  • Minimum Initial Investment:$0, but you’ll need $100 to build your first pie.
  • Available accounts: Joint and individual taxable investment accounts; traditional, Roth, rollover, and SEP IRAs.
  • Investment mix: ETFs and individual stocks.
  • Fees: No annual advisory fee and no trading commissions.
  • Customer support: Phone, Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Central time.

M1 Finance Expert Pies Pros:

  • No minimum initial investment required.
  • No management fee or trading fees.
  • You can choose the stocks and ETFs in your pies or select from pre-built pies provided by M1.
  • Once your pies have been created, you’ll enjoy comprehensive investment management.

M1 Finance Expert Pies Cons:

  • There’s no option to include bonds or mutual funds in your pies.
  • Though you can include individual stocks in your pies, M1 Finance is not designed to be a stock trading platform.

Bottom Line

If you’re a retiree, you may also want to retire from investment management. If that’s the case, take advantage of one of these eight robo-advisors. Any one of them will be suitable for retirees. It’ll just be a matter of choosing the one (or ones) that will work best for your own investment needs and preferences.

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Article written by Kevin Mercadante
Kevin Mercadante is a freelance professional web content writer for hire, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has extensive backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. In fact, it was his career crash-and-burn from the mortgage business in 2008 that led him into blogging and freelance professional web content writing. Kevin and his family live in New Hampshire, after long stints in New Jersey and Georgia.

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