Wealthfront Review - The Automated Robo-Advisor For Passive Investors
Wealthfront Beginners Guide
Today we're going over Wealthfront, the investment robo-advisor with low costs, diversified portfolios, and a suite of excellent financial tools. But, is it the right robo-advisor for you?
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☑️ Quick Summary ☑️
- Easy-to-use Robo-advisor investing across 11 asset classes
- High-interest cash account with a Visa debit card
- Link and monitor all your banks and brokerages from the app
- Tax-loss harvesting is included to help you reduce your overall tax bill
- Goal setting feature lets you easily monitor your financial goals' progress
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What Is Wealthfront?
Wealthfront is one of the leading robo-advisors for investors who want to put their investments on autopilot. If you want to take control of your finances but want a more hands-off approach to investing, robo-advisors are automated investing platforms that help you achieve that.
Available on iOS, Android, and desktop, Wealthfront's interface can help give you an in-depth look at your overall finances.
While Wealthfront began its journey primarily as a low-cost investment platform, it has grown its portfolio to offer tools such as automated financial planning, high-interest cash accounts, and even tax-saving strategies.
This makes the robo-advisor suitable for people who are looking for more than just an investment platform.
Wealthfront uses modern portfolio theory in designing portfolios. They first assess your risk tolerance, time horizon, and investment goals. They then create a portfolio that suits your investment criteria, based on the brief assessment you take when you first sign up.
In simple terms, Modern Portfolio Theory emphasizes portfolio diversification to help increase returns while also helping to minimize losses.
Wealthfront has a wide range of investment options and strategies, including automatic portfolio rebalancing, automatic dividend reinvestment, and even tax-loss harvesting.
They also provide financial planning products for retirement planning, home buying, and planning for college education costs.
Of course, their automated investment portfolios are still where the robo-advisor excels.
How Does Wealthfront Work?
You can get started investing on Wealthfront with as little as $500. Your funds are then automatically invested into a mixture of exchange-traded-funds (ETFs). ETFs are essentially baskets of related assets bundled together in a single investment. Wealthfront's ETFs include exposure to various assets, including:
Wealthfront ETF Asset Classes
- US stocks
- International stocks
- Real estate
- Natural resources
When you first sign up, Wealthfront starts by giving you a brief questionnaire to assess your goals and risk tolerance. This helps them build you a personalized portfolio composed of stocks, bonds, and other asset classes.
Based on your initial assessment, Wealthfront integrates Modern Portfolio Theory to distribute your investment into various ETFs, giving your investment portfolio an optimized asset allocation.
Again, this methodology takes into account your personal risk tolerance, time horizon, and investing goals.
One of the advantages of using a robo-advisor, is that they provide automatic portfolio rebalancing. Wealthfront achieves this by rebalancing your portfolio automatically and continuously to maintain your proper asset allocation.
This means that once Wealthfront determines your ideal asset allocation if any particular asset becomes over or under-allocated, its automatic rebalancing feature will ensure your portfolio stays consistent no matter how much you have invested.
As a robo-advisor, Wealthfront removes the need to worry about trading and picking individual stocks. Instead, they offer pre-built and pre-diversified portfolios composed of quality ETFs from companies like Vanguard, Schwab, and IShares.
Wealthfront's selection of low-cost ETFs covers 11 asset classes, including:
- U.S. Stocks
- International Stocks
- Emerging Market Stocks
- Dividend Stocks
- Real Estate
- Natural Resources
- Corporate Bonds
- Government Bonds
- And more
While you cannot customize these pre-set portfolios, investors with more than $100,000 in a Wealthfront investing account have the ability to exclude individual stocks that you don’t want in your holdings.
With that being said, one of the greatest benefits of ETFs is the instant diversification they bring to your investments. Instead of relying on a few single stocks' performances, your portfolio can get exposure to hundreds of quality companies across various asset classes. This instant diversification, along with the low cost of ETFs, allows anyone to become a stock market investor without having to overthink it.
Automated Financial Planning
If you have multiple brokerage and bank accounts keeping track of everything can become overwhelming. Wealthfront makes this easy by letting you add external accounts to your Wealthfront dashboard.
This makes it extremely convenient to track and monitor all your financial accounts, including those not managed by Wealthfront itself.
You simply link your financial accounts once, and Wealthfront takes care of all the rest. They make it easy to measure and track your current net worth while also projecting your net worth in the future, even making adjustments automatically as your finances change.
This feature helps give you more accurate insight and a complete overview of your entire financial portfolio. As a result, you can better manage and optimize your finances for any personal goals you may have.
Speaking of goals, this is another area where the robo-advisor shines. After connecting all your financial accounts to Wealthfront, the home dashboard displays all of your assets and liabilities at a glance, allowing you to see where you stand on achieving your goals.
For instance, if you intend to buy a house, Wealthfront will link to Redfin to help you determine how much a home will cost in a specific geographic area. They also integrate with other third-party data to help you forecast expenses for many different scenarios.
Whether you're interested in saving for a house, taking time to travel, saving for college, or expecting a large expense such as a new car or a wedding, you can easily track all of your financial goals in one central location with Wealthfront's goal planning feature.
Overall, their goal-planning method is comprehensive and creates a clear picture of how much you need to save to reach your goals.
Pricing and Fees
Wealthfront's fees are completely straightforward. There are no fees to buy or sell any of your investments. Instead, they charge a fixed annual fee of 0.25%.
This is an extremely competitive rate compared to mutual funds and financial advisors, who can charge anywhere from 1 to 3% in annual fees.
To put this in practical terms, a 0.25% annual fee is only $1.04 per month on a portfolio balance of $5,000.
But, thanks to my friends over at Wealthfront, they've been generous enough to offer viewers of Everyday Investing a special promotion where you can get your first $5,000 managed completely for free.
If you would like to try out Wealthfront for yourself, you can claim your sign-up promotion through my exclusive partnership link here.
Considering that Wealthfront's portfolios are completely managed for you, and you never have to worry about trading or picking individual stocks, the robo-advisor can make sense for many investors who want a more hands-off investing approach.
Wealthfront's account minimums are also pretty straightforward. You can start an investment account with as little as $500, and you can open a high-interest cash account with as little as $1.
There are no balance maintenance requirements, nor are there any minimum account balance fees with either type of account.
Speaking of account types, Wealthfront offers several types of accounts:
- Taxable Investing Accounts
- Retirement Investing Accounts (IRAs)
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
- SEP IRA
- 401(k) Rollovers
- 529 College Savings Plan
- High-Interest Cash Accounts
Wealthfront Cash Account
You can also access mobile banking on the platform in the form of a high-interest cash account with no monthly service fees, account fees, or account minimum fees.
With their Cash Account, you'll earn interest rates much higher than the national average at your local bank. The interest rate is subject to fluctuation based on the Federal Interest Rate, but this is pretty standard for most interest-earning cash accounts.
To see the most up-to-date interest rate offered by Wealthfront, you can see the latest rates here.
Another benefit of Wealthfront's Cash Account is that you can also get paid up to two days early when you direct deposit your paycheck. Plus, because it also comes with its own routing and account number, you can use it to pay bills and easily access cash with the included Visa debit card.
You can open up a Wealthfront Cash Account with as little as $1 and there are no account minimum fees. This can make it an ideal option for holding an emergency fund.
In terms of protection, the Cash Account is FDIC insured up to $1 million. That's literally 4x the insurance provided by most traditional banks.
The integration of their Cash Account and their Investment accounts within the same app makes it extremely convenient to transfer funds between the two accounts when needed.
Not only does the Cash Account allow you to earn higher interest on your uninvested cash, but you can easily transfer money between your Cash Account and your investment accounts at any time.
Wealthfront's Key Features
Wealthfront is all about automation, and Autopilot is their simple tool for helping you move towards the path of what they call "self-driving money."
The integrated feature tracks and monitors your bank accounts' income and expenses and automatically transfers money above your monthly spending requirements into your high-interest Cash Account or investing account.
To use Autopilot, you simply link a bank account that you want to monitor.
This can be your Wealthfront Cash or any external bank accounts you link to the platform. Then, after determining your monthly bills and expenses, you specify the maximum balance for that bank account.
When Autopilot detects that you're at least $100 over your maximum balance, it will schedule a transfer of your excess cash from your monitored account to the Wealthfront account of your choice.
Whenever Autopilot detects excess cash in your bank account, you receive an automated email giving you 24 hours to cancel the transfer if needed.
With Autopilot, you have complete control over how much you want to keep in your bank account for bills and emergencies. At the same time, you can have any excess cash be automatically invested for you.
In addition to Autopilot, setting up automatic recurring deposits with Wealthfront is easy since your bank account is linked during the initial sign-up process.
Tax Loss Harvesting
Tax-loss harvesting is a strategy that takes advantage of stock market movements to capture investment losses, which can help reduce your overall tax bill. This feature is available at no additional cost for all taxable investment accounts.
Essentially, as investors in the United States, you can claim a tax deduction for up to $3,000 in capital losses every tax year. Capital losses can also help offset capital gains. Wealthfront's algorithms track daily capital loss opportunities to ensure your portfolio is as tax-efficient as possible.
Wealthfront provides all investors with ETF level tax-loss harvesting at every portfolio value that looks daily for opportunities to lower your tax liability. For accounts over $100,000, they offer stock level tax-loss harvesting.
The addition of stocks allows Wealthfront to be more efficient with its tax-loss harvesting by identifying individual stock movements to harvest even more tax losses for lowering your tax bill.
Stock level tax-loss harvesting is just one of the many benefits that larger investors at Wealthfront will experience. Investors with accounts over $500,000 also have access to expanded features such as Smart Beta.
Essentially, these are investment features built to maximize your potential returns by weighting the stock securities in your portfolio more intelligently.
While these extra services are only available for larger investors, it's definitely not something to get discouraged by. After all, their smart tax-loss harvesting feature is available to all account levels.
However, the additional benefits can be a great opportunity for those investors who start investing early and grow their portfolio with Wealthfront over time.
Portfolio Line of Credit
Wealthfront makes borrowing simple. Secured by your own investments, a portfolio line of credit is a fast and convenient way to access cash at a low rate without having to sell your investments and disrupt your long-term investment goals.
Have you ever needed to access your cash for a large expense, such as to cover a vacation, a bill, or a down payment on a house? At the same time, you probably didn't want to sell your stocks in the process. Well, a portfolio line of credit might be a solution for you.
Available to investors with $25,000 or more in a taxable investing account, Wealthfront's portfolio line of credit allows you to borrow money against your investment portfolio while also choosing your own terms of repayment.
Wealthfront clients can borrow up to 30% of their account's value at very competitive interest rates. Again, these interest rates are subject to change as the Federal Interest Rate moves.
When tapping into your Wealthfront portfolio line of credit, there are no credit checks, no application process, and no impact on your credit score.
While the interest rates are low, and you can set your own payback schedule, it's important to keep in mind there are risks to consider when taking out a loan.
Whenever you take out a loan, your investments act as collateral. If your portfolio value decreases significantly, Wealthfront may have to sell some of your investments to cover the loan.
Also, while their interest rates are very competitive for lines of credit, the interest rate you pay on your loan can change as the Federal Interest Rate changes.
Is Investing On Wealthfront Safe?
As a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), Wealthfront's investment accounts are SIPC insured against brokerage failure. Securities in member's accounts are protected up to $500,000, including up to $250,000 in cash. For further details, please see www.sipc.org.
SIPC insurance is investor protection for investment brokerages. Now unlike a bank's FDIC insurance, SIPC does not protect against the decline in value of your securities. Investments in the stock market are subject to fluctuations in market value.
However, SIPC protects against the loss of cash and securities – such as stocks and bonds – held by a customer at a financially-troubled SIPC-member brokerage firm.
On the other hand, their separate Cash Account provides FDIC insurance up to $1 million through their partner banks.
- Tax-Loss Harvesting: Wealthfront's tax-saving strategy takes advantage of capital losses and uses them in your favor to reduce your overall tax bill. This is a beneficial feature for investors with taxable investment accounts, and it's also a feature that is not available on many popular investing apps.
- Financial Overview: Connecting your external bank and brokerage accounts to Wealthfront allows you to easily monitor your overall finances all from a single dashboard.
- Whether you're setting goals, tracking your net worth, or monitoring your Wealthfront accounts, they make it very convenient to gain a more holistic view of your entire portfolio.
- High-Interest Cash Account: Anytime you can earn higher interest on your uninvested cash than you could at a traditional bank, that is definitely something to take advantage of. Not only does the Wealthfront Cash Account come with no fees, but it also comes with direct deposit, FDIC insurance through their partner banks, and even a Visa debit card for quick access to your cash.
- Limited Portfolio Customization: While Wealthfront's portfolios are well built and diversified, you don't have control over customizing your portfolio and what you invest in. Also, because the robo-advisor is built around ETFs, you don't have the ability to invest in individual stocks until your account balance reaches $100,000.
- No Fractional Shares: Wealthfront doesn't invest in fractional shares of ETFs. This means that you could have some uninvested cash sitting on the sideline for some time until you have enough to buy a full share. This is why it is recommended to turn on automatic deposits, so you can reduce the time any money is sitting uninvested.
Who Is Wealthfront Ideal For?
Wealthfront is ideal for investors who want a more passive investing experience. If you want to grow your money through investing, but you don't want to worry about the day to day price movements of the stock market, a robo-advisor could be an ideal solution for you.
Wealthfront's portfolios are low cost, the app is easy to use, and your investments are completely managed.
If you are interested in a true "set-it-and-forget-it" investing approach, Wealthfront's automated tools like portfolio rebalancing, dividend reinvestment, and tax-loss harvesting make it easy for anyone to invest without having to feel overwhelmed.
The robo-advisor is also ideal for those who want access to a suite of growing financial tools such as mobile banking, a portfolio line of credit, tax-saving strategies, and automated financial planning.
Who Is Wealthfront Not Ideal For?
Wealthfront is not as ideal for more active and hands-on investors. While their portfolios are well built and cover many asset classes, they may not be a good fit for investors who want to pick and trade individual stocks.
Even for those more active investors, the good news is that Wealthfront still offers helpful tools outside of investing that you may want to take advantage of. Whether it's their high-interest cash account, competitive portfolio line of credit, or the ability to monitor all your financial accounts from one dashboard, Wealthfront offers something for everyone.
As mentioned earlier, my friends over at Wealthfront have been generous enough to offer viewers of Everyday Investing a special promotion where you can get your first $5,000 managed completely for free.
If you would like to try out any of Wealthfront tools for yourself, you can claim your sign-up promotion through my exclusive partnership link here.
Wealthfront is one of the leading robo-advisors for investors who want to put their investments on autopilot. If you want to take control of your finances but want a more hands-off approach to investing, Wealthfront is an automated investing platform that can help you achieve that.
To get started with your free $5k managed sign-up bonus, you can join Wealthfront here.
Or feel free to see how Wealhtfront compares to today's other top investing apps here.
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