Betterment Review & Rating 2022
Is Betterment good? If you’ve been avoiding investing because you’re unsure how it works, that’s no longer a problem.
In this Betterment review, we'll take a closer look at how the company's robo-investing service works, its pros and cons, and how to tell if this is the best robo-advisor for you.
When you just start investing, one of the most critical factors to consider is cost. This is why it is essential to invest in low-cost mutual funds and ETFs and to use an inexpensive broker if you are buying stocks and bonds from individuals. And that brings us to this Betterment review 2022, an online tool that makes investing in stocks and bonds simple and easy.
Founded by Jon Stein in 2008 as the first widely available robo-advisor, Betterment is a website that allows advanced investors to invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) of stocks and bonds. Stein's goal was to develop an investment platform that had the client as a top priority and focus.
Rather than picking individual exchange-traded funds, Betterment's robo-advisor selects them for you based on an asset allocation you select. In fact, there are no options for creating a wallet yourself unless you have $100,000 or more in your account. Otherwise, you can only choose wallets that are pre-built and professionally assembled.
As an investor, all you have to do is decide how much of your investment you want to invest in stocks and bonds. One of the intriguing things about Betterment is that you will have a very unique portfolio from everyone - no investment portfolio is exactly alike. And if you need help deciding where to allocate your investments, Betterment offers several tools that can help you.
How does Betterment work?
With traditional investing and stock picking, you have several options. You can either buy pre-diversified securities (such as ETFs or mutual funds) or individual stocks (or a mixture of the two). With either of these strategies, however, you'll end up needing to do a lot of research. You will also need to know when to buy and when to sell each security not only for the biggest gains, but also for the biggest tax benefit. Finally, you will need to continually keep an eye on your portfolio to make sure it is balanced and distributed the way you want it to be.
Does this sound exhausting to you?
Betterment wants to help you solve these issues and make your life easier (remember when I said their goal is to be customer-centric?).
So how does Betterment work?
First of all, you only need a few moments to register online. Betterment will ask you for things like your age, income, and projected years until retirement. Then they will ask you questions about your goals. For example, do you want to save for retirement, college, or emergency savings? From there, they'll use an algorithm to figure out how aggressively you should have in your wallet.
This short quiz helps them determine the big picture of your finances. By looking at your overall financial goals, risk tolerance level, and external accounts, Betterment can get the complete financial picture of you and develop investment portfolios that make sense.
The answers to these questions will ultimately define how your Betterment core portfolio is developed and how aggressive (or conservative) the investments it contains.
Once you have finalized your tolerance for risk (by choosing the percentage you want in stocks), an investment portfolio will be built for you.
What Betterment will do then is keep this investment portfolio balanced for me and automatically invest new deposits where needed to maintain that balance. They decide when to buy and sell stocks and what stocks to keep in the portfolio. Everything is done for you.
Pros and cons of Betterment
- Easy to use: very easy to get started with the investment
- Unique features: multiple goal options and corresponding asset allocations
- PensionGuide: Long-term retirement planning and advice
- Great portfolio options: Optimized investment portfolios with simple asset allocation
- Reasonable price: cheap for what you get
- Access to Certified Financial Planners: With the Premium plan, Certified Financial Planners can also analyze accounts outside of Betterment
- Harvesting tax losses: automated to reduce your tax impact
- Access to human advisors: Access to human advisors is available with the Premium plan, or by purchasing a standalone advice package.
- Get unlimited access to a financial advisor
- Restrictive: investors who want full control may not appreciate the automated features
- Cannot manage external accounts: may view other external accounts, but you cannot easily align your investment strategy because they are managed elsewhere
- Certain ETFs only: you cannot invest in individual stocks, REITs or commodities
- Can be expensive: Guided counseling by human financial advisors is expensive
Betterment is an industry leader, so it's no surprise that the company places a lot of emphasis on trust and transparency.
Information about tariffs and other important information can be easily found on the site both through navigation and through a quick search.
You can also easily find information on the investment philosophy, methodology and past performance of Betterment.
No matter what questions you have about Betterment products, you can find the answer in just a few clicks.
In our review of Betterment, we found that its desktop platform is very easy to use and intuitive.
Since Betterment focuses on investing in prefabricated portfolios, it doesn't offer many tools and resources for self-building portfolios.
You will not find interactive charts or reports on the company's financial performance.
But you will find a wealth of information on everything from the reasons why Betterment portfolios are ETF-based to links to the official prospectus of each fund.
The main Betterment account page allows users to quickly track progress towards each of their goals.
Click on a goal, such as Retirement, Buy a Home, or Savings, and you will have access to analysis of portfolio, profit and performance, as well as useful insights such as percentage rejection and your chances of reaching the goal based on the parameters of your current position.
The user interface is sleek and polished, making it easy to set up two-factor authentication, plan deposits, or change goals, strategies, or asset allocation in a Betterment portfolio.
Betterment mobile platform
With the mobile app, Betterment offers almost all of the same features as the desktop platform.
While some features are only available through the desktop platform, such as activating automatic rebalancing, closing accounts and withdrawing funds, the app is still a great resource for investors who like to monitor their investments around the clock.
Like the desktop platform, the app allows users to quickly check progress towards their goals.
Also, users can easily change the parameters of their goals and portfolio distribution at any time.
Research tools and analytics
The Betterment platform offers a wealth of information and research material on exchange-traded funds, algorithmic portfolio investing, and the specific assets included in the flexible portfolios on offer.
Instead of watchlists and paper trading features, Betterment offers resources aimed at educating users about investment performance, the benefits of ETFs, and all portfolio-related issues.
For those looking to understand the intricacies that make Betterment a tax-efficient option, there is a link to the tax-free withdrawal documentation at the bottom of the home page, which also describes how Betterment uses this strategy to minimize investor tax bills.
Since many users are investing their retirement savings, Betterment also offers a set of resources designed to help investors determine the best products and strategies for their goals, including a calculator that helps users choose between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.
At the time of writing this review, these are the Betterment account types available.
- Individual retirement account (IRA)
- Roth IRA
- Rollover IRA
- SEPTEMBER IRA
You can also set up a cash management account or a Betterment Cash Reserve account, so all of your savings, checking, and investing accounts can be easily managed in one place. The cash reserve account is a fee-free, high-yield savings account with funds deposited across several banks.
Deposit and withdrawal
After registering, you will link your checking account to Betterment. This allows you to make online contributions and withdrawals from your account. You can then either make individual contributions when you wish, or set up a recurring contribution.
This makes the monthly investments and the average dollar costs very easy. One thing to note is that you don't need to deposit money immediately to open an investment account because Betterment doesn't have a minimum investment requirement.
Betterment doesn’t include cryptocurrency in their recommended investment portfolios, but if you do decide to invest in cryptocurrency, it should be in moderation.
Ultimately, it’s okay to invest your money in a way that reflects your personal values; just do so in an informed, principled manner.
If you invest in crypto, one strategy you may consider to manage taxes is tax loss harvesting.
Betterment implements this strategy at the flip of a switch for our investment customers and we’ve automated the process so that our customers don’t have to do it manually. For example, losses that Betterment harvests can be used to offset gains in your cryptocurrency investments.
There are two plans with Betterment, each with different account minimums and account fees structures:
Minimum account fees: $0
Annual Fee: 0.25% on balances up to $ 2 million (drops to 0.15% once you hit $2 million)
Minimum account balance: $100,000
Annual Fee: 0.40% on balances up to $ 2 million (drops to 0.30% once you hit $2 million)
The main difference between the two packages is the amount of attention you will get. With Betterment Premium, you will have unlimited access to Certified Betterment Financial Planners who can advise you on your portfolios, both inside and outside Betterment. It means support with things like your 401 (k) which is awesome. You can also chat with a human advisor for investment advice on life events and other financial planning situations.
Limited time promo
For a limited time, Betterment is offering up to one year of its brokerage services free of charge. Depending on the amount you deposit, you will earn free months.
- $15,000 - $99,999 - 1 month free
- $100,000 - $249,999 - 6 months free
- $250,000 + - 12 months free
Although Betterment does not provide 24/7 support, broker staff are available to answer questions 7 days a week, closing only on holidays.
There is an extensive FAQ page and Tax Center for solving problems outside office hours, where you can find answers to many common questions.
If you need to talk to a real person, you will have to wait until business hours - from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday, and from 11 am to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Email support is available during business hours, seven days a week, and phone support is available Monday through Friday only.
While the Betterment app makes it quick and easy to send messages to employees, it is not really a chat feature.
Instead, your message is redirected to an email and a response comes in the same amount of time as any other email request.
Is Betterment safe? Betterment LLC is a US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) registered investment advisor (RIA) and Betterment Securities acts as a SEC-registered broker/dealer.
In addition, if you are wondering, is Betterment legit? We’ll like to let you know that Betterment is a member of FINRA and SIPC. This means that all investments are federally regulated and all client investment accounts are insured up to $500,000.
User accounts are additionally protected by two-factor authentication, and the website is encrypted and authenticated using strong protocols and ciphers, as well as key exchange technology.
Is Betterment right for you? After reading this Betterment review 2022, our short answer is yes. There is no charge or minimum balance requirement to sign up for a Betterment investment account, and if you've never tried a robo-advisor, this is the one for you to try.
Betterment was the original robot advisor and in my opinion offers the best service and features. They strike the right balance between giving you control and making decisions for you. The goal of a robo-advisor is to reduce decision fatigue and make your life easier while building a growing portfolio.
If you want to pick individual stocks and manage every little bit of your investment portfolio, Betterment isn't for you. But if you are a new investor or just someone who wants their money managed for them,I strongly encourage you to try Betterment.