Should I Use a Robo-Advisor? 5 Reasons I Would Use a Robo-Advisor Myself
Have You Been Thinking About Getting Investing Help From a Robo-Advisor?
By staff columnist, Alexandra Deluise
In today’s technologically-driven society, it should come as no surprise that robo-advisors are now “a thing.” After all, we like automating everything – why not our investing advice? If you’ve been thinking about whether you should use a robo-advisor, this article will help you answer the question, ‘Should I use a robo-advisor?’
Robo-advisors work by using algorithms to help clients make the best investing decisions, weighing the client’s tolerance for risk and desired length of investment into the equation. Some robo-advisors are strictly automated, while others also use humans to complement their services.
There is a lot to consider before deciding whether or not a robo-advisor would work for you. They do come with some benefits that don’t exist with physical financial advisors – you wouldn’t have a personality clash with a robo-advisor! – but there are some potential downsides as well, depending on your own unique needs.
Of course every robo-advisor is different and offers a variety of services, so make sure to do your research before deciding which company to use.
Should I use a robo-advisor if I don’t have a lot of money to spend?
Most (although not all) robo-advisors cost less than their physical counterparts. This makes robo-advisors great options for millennials, who may not have as much money to spend on financial planning but could still benefit from financial advice. You should absolutely use a robo-advisor if you would like a low-cost alternative to a regular financial advisor. Even though we typically need to spend money to make money, by spending less you might end up having more to invest.
On the flip side, there are some physical financial advisors who cost less than robo-advisors. You also get what you pay for in some cases: financial advisors don’t only make investments. They also provide a personal touch and relationship building, which are essential to some investors.
Should I use a robo-advisor if I like lunchtime business meetings with my financial advisor?
Probably not. Your robo-advisor won’t be meeting you over coffee to discuss the latest stock market trends. If you love the personal touch dealing with an individual face-to-face brings, then a robo-advisor might not be for you. That being said, people with busy lifestyles may benefit from the convenience an electronic advisor brings. You will be able to work with your robo-advisor outside of normal business hours, thus removing the need to put anything extra in your already busy schedule.
Should I use a robo-advisor if I want a personalized experience?
Unfortunately, robo-advisors can only personalize so far – they do take your personal risk tolerance into consideration, but they cannot offer the same personalization that a human financial advisor can. This might be a problem for individuals looking for extremely complicated, unique investments, but it should not scare off everyone: robo-advisors’ investment algorithms are just fine for most basic investments. And many robo-advisors, such as TradeKing Advisors offer access to 17 different funds. Whereas Personal Capital has a specialized approach as well as access to advisors for higher net worth investors.
Should I use a robo-advisor if I want basic customization?
Definitely! The algorithms of most robo-advisors offer some customization. They may not be able to do everything a personal financial advisor can do, but they can change to work with people of varying incomes, risk tolerance levels, and investment desires.
Should I use a robo-advisor if I will have a small balance in my investments?
You sure should! Some robo advisors allow you to start investing with only $100 (Betterment), while others require somewhere between $1,000 and $5,000 (Financial Guard, SigFig, Wealthfront, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios)– still, you don’t need to drop a quick 50 grand to get started. And WiseBanyan allows you to start investing with just ten bucks and charges zero management fees.
Should I use a robo-advisor if I need to be consoled when I lose money?
Definitely not. Robo-advisors can’t offer the personal touch a physical advisor can, so a robo-advisor won’t be able to make you feel better or remind you that the market fluctuates. You’ll need to reach out to someone else – a friend, financial planner, or family member – if you need someone to talk you through a financial loss.
The final verdict: I would use one!
I would use a robo-advisor if I was just starting out for five reasons:
- I like low-cost options. I don’t want to pay someone for his or her time if I can work with a cheaper alternative and potentially get the same results.
- I need flexibility. Robo-advisors offer you a chance to invest outside normal business hours. No more waiting for appointments!
- Efficiency is key for me. I don’t need small talk – I just want to make my investments.
- I don’t have a lot to invest up front. Robo-advisors eliminate the need to have thousands on hand.
- My needs are relatively simple. I don’t require extensive customization in order to build the portfolio I want.
Of course my investing needs and decisions may be very different than your own. As with all investment decisions, you need to carefully weigh the pros and cons for yourself. Since making money through your investments isn’t guaranteed, it’s always good to decide what risks you are willing and able to take, and what options give you the best chance at success. If you’re thinking about using a robo-advisor, you may want to sign up for low-fee, low-minimum Betterment.
Staff columnist Alexandra DeLuise combines her banking experience with real-world financial advice to provide simple money tips to everyday people.