Sometimes it can feel nearly impossible to differentiate between two similar robo-advisors. As you look through the digital investment options, you’ll notice that certain robo-advisors offer many of the same benefits: low minimum investment requirements, affordable fees, and access to human financial planners, to name a few.
Betterment and Axos Invest (formerly Wise Banyan) are similar, but not identical. You’ll find a few similarities and many differences.
So, how do you pick between Betterment vs Axos Invest?
Before you flip a coin, here’s a head-to-head comparison of Betterment vs. Axos Invest to help you make an informed decision.
Betterment vs Axos Invest – Comparison
|Overview||Goals-based digital investment manager with access to financial advisors and cash management.||Goals-based robo advisor with access to specialty investment portfolios.|
|Minimum Investment Amount||No minimum for Betterment Digital. |
$100,000 minimum for Betterment Premium.
|Free Services||Free portfolio review||N/A|
|Fee Structure||Digital-0.25% AUM|
|Top Features||Digital and hybrid investment management with financial advisors. All investors can text with financial advisors. Socially-responsible, income and smart beta portfolios. Tax loss harvesting. Cash management.||Investment management with tax-loss harvesting and specialty investment portfolios including AI, health care and other sector investing.|
|Investment Funds||Low fee exchange traded funds from diverse asset classes.||Diversified low-fee exchange traded index funds-ETFs. |
Stock bit - fractional shares of stock available through SoFi Active Investing.
|Accounts Available||Single and joint taxable brokerage. Roth, traditional, rollover and SEP IRA. Trust.||Individual and joint taxable accounts. Roth, traditional and SEP IRAs.|
|Contact & Investing Advice||Phone support M-F. Email support 7 days per week. Financial advisor access available at various levels.||Phone support M-F. Email support 7 days per week.|
|Promotions||Free investment management promotion||N/A|
Betterment vs. Axos Invest – Overview
Betterment and Axos are both goals-based robo-advisors. By this, we mean that each robo makes it easy for users to set and track financial goals through their platforms. Goals-based investing can help you plan for specific life events and easily evaluate whether you’re on track.
Betterment Top Features
- Investment management options (digital and hybrid including human financial planners)
- Socially responsible, income, and smart beta portfolios
- Multiple levels of features—pay for what you’ll use
- Tax-loss harvesting
- Portfolio review
- Retirement planner
- Cash management
Likewise, Axos Invest Managed Portfolios offers goal-based investing options. This robo-advisor starts with a few common goals, including rainy day funds, retirement, building wealth, or saving for a new vehicle. These goals can be changed at any time, and users can add their own goals, much like with Betterment.
One neat feature of Axos Invest is that you can break down your goals into dollar amounts and time frames. For example, if you want to save $15,000 for a new car in the next 3 years, the robo-advisor has space for you to do this.
Axos Invest Top Features
- Auto deposit
- Automated financial advice
- Tax-loss harvesting
- Specialized investment tracks – access to more than 30 themed investment portfolios that you can add or remove from your portfolios at any time.
1. Initial Startup Investment
Winner: It’s a tie.
Betterment vs. Axos Invest: Minimum Investment Edition would be a very boring battle. Both robo-advisors are extremely affordable, with minimal investments required for new users.
Betterment is slightly in the lead, with no minimum initial investment required for their Digital plan. Investors looking to start with higher investments might choose to go Premium, for an initial investment of $100,000.
Betterment is currently offering a free account management promotion.
Of course, Axos Invest is a close second—they only require $1 as a minimum investment. What this means is that investors can get a taste of robo-led investing without much up-front risk. Win-win!
If you look at the big picture, there’s really no difference between the two when it comes to minimum investment amount.
2. Fee Structures
Winner: It’s basicallly a tie. Axos Invest charges 0.24% while Betterment charges 0.25% of AUM.
Betterment and Axos Invest are also both on our radar as being top low-fee robo-advisors.
Axos Invest charges 0.24% of AUM. (this new pricing begins August 1, 2020)
Betterment is still on the low end of robo-advisor fees. Betterment offers two tiers along with a la carte financial planning options:
- Digital—A plan with fees of 0.25% AUM for up to $2 million. Fees drop to 0.15% of AUM for accounts over $2 million.
- Premium—A plan that includes access to Certified Financial Planners, with fees of 0.40% AUM up to $2 million. Fees drop to 0.30% for accounts over $2 million.
- A la carte financial planning packages range from one-time fees of $150 to $400, depending upon services.
3. Access to Human Financial Planners
Robo-advisors are good precisely because they are not human–that is, they have faster response time and use algorithms, not emotions, to make decisions. However, many people are understandably unwilling to completely forego the human component of investing.
Axos Invest, unfortunately, does not offer human financial planners as part of their services. This may account for the low fee structures! After all, robo-advisors do not need salaries.
Betterment offers comprehensive access to financial advisors.
All Betterment investors are able to text human financial advisors. This is fantastic for on-the-go customers! For investors with more money ($100,000 and up), can receive unlimited access to advice from human advisors via phone or video chat through the Premium plan.
Additionally, Betterment also offers low fee financial planning packages for those major life transitions, like getting married or retiring, for a low fee.
Betterment wins the financial advisor contest, hands down.
4. Investment Funds and Accounts
Winner: Betterment wins the available accounts category. While it’s a tie for the investment funds contest.
Axos Invest offers investors a chance to invest in Vanguard, iShares, and SPDR ETFs, among others. A typical portfolio owns approximately eight distinct funds from various asset classes.
We also like that in the Portfolio Plus plan, Axos has a list of specialty investment funds like:
- Blockchain Stocks
- Precious Metal Stocks
- Internet Innovators Stocks
- Digital Security Stocks
- Socially Minded Stocks
- Consumer Staples Stocks
- Municipal Bonds
- US Treasury Bonds
- Small Cap Stocks
- Artificial Intelligence Stocks
- Marijuana Stocks
- and More
Investors can choose to open personal investment accounts as well as retirement accounts, including Roth, traditional, and SEP IRAs. Axos Invest also allows retirement rollovers.
Investors who choose Betterment will have access to ETFs from diverse asset classes and fund providers as well. A typical portfolio owns roughly 10 distinct funds, from a variety of asset classes.
Not to be outdone, Betterment also offers specialty investing including:
- Socially Responsible Investors – The SRI portfolios allow you to invest with your values and choose to put your money in socially responsible firms.
- Goldman Sachs Smart Beta Portfolios – This approach is good for investors who want to attempt to beat the market and are willing to take on a bit higher risk.
- BlackRock Target Income Portfolios – These bond portfolios are designed for conservative investors seeking cash flow.
Betterment also allows users to choose from single or joint taxable brokerage accounts, trusts, and common retirement funds like Roth, traditional, and SEP IRAs. Like Axos Invest, investors can also rollover retirement funds.
So, the portfolio diversification of both Axos Invest and Betterment are similar. We’re satisfied with the investment choices at both Betterment and Axos.
Yet, Betterment has a greater variety of available accounts including the SEP IRA for business owners.
5. Customer Service
Winner: Betterment comes out on top in the customer service comparison with texting options and greater customer service availability.
In addition to offering varying levels of contact with human financial planners, Betterment offers phone and email support every day of the week. Axos Invest has 24/7 availability by email, but phone contact is limited to weekdays from 8am-4pm PT.
6. One-stop Shop Options
Winner: Axos Invest comes out first due to its affiliation with Axos Bank.
If you like the option of keeping all your financial products in one place, Betterment is a good option. In addition to their investment account offerings, Betterment has checking and high yield savings options.
Betterment’s Cash Reserve account is a high-yield savings account and customers are covered for up to $1 million in FDIC insurance.
Betterment Checking is a no-fee checking account service. Clients can expect to receive a contactless debit card and ATM fee reimbursements. Betterment Checking also boasts an intuitive and thorough app through which clients can freeze lost debit cards, upload checks for mobile deposit, and change their PINs—all without having to interact with a brick and mortar bank.
Axos Bank, the larger company that owns the Axos Invest robo-advisor, also offers many extra banking features. Similar to TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios, which is housed under the TD Ameritrade umbrella, Axos Invest clients can access a plethora of banking tools available through a larger financial institution.
Axos Bank offers:
- Checking and Savings accounts
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
- Auto Loans
- Personal Loans
- Accounts for business banking, such as business checking, savings, and money market accounts as well as CDs
Both Betterment and Axos offer cash management options. If you’re seeking a robo-advisor that is part of a larger banking and financial services firm, then Axos Invest is the best for you.
What really sets these two apart is the access to human financial planners. Betterment offers human financial planning for all customers through texting with financial advisors and low fee financial planning packages. We believe this puts Betterment ahead of Axos Invest.
Additionally, Betterment is a robo-advisor first and foremost and has honed their platform with banking, tax-loss harvesting and specialized investment strategies.
Betterment is also one of the oldest robo-advisors, founded in 2009 . If you’re concerned about fintech consolidation then this matters. And, Betterment owns the third place category of robo-advisors with the most AUM with $206 million as of April 2020.
Axos Invest is a part of the Axos Band familiy and relies on automated investing advice, so users may need some degree of comfort with investing period before choosing to go with this platform.
We do appreciate the opportunity for investors to pick and choose specialty investment sectors, but we believe that is the only specialty feature that distinguishes it from Betterment.
Betterment, on the other hand, offers lots of opportunities for contact with human financial planners—at a price. Clients can text with financial advisors on the basic digital plan. Although for financial planner direct contact through phone and video chat, expect to pay fees of 0.40% of AUM for unlimited contact and will need a minimum of $100,000 invested to be eligible.
The best robo-advisor for you between Betterment and Axos is the one that fits your needs.
Both are goals-based, low minimum investment, low fees robo-advisors. Both also have customizable goals options and flexibility in services so that users only pay for the features they’ll use.
Ultimately, if you want access to financial advisors, choose Betterment. (Free account management promotion available)
Read the Complete Betterment Review
If you want access to broad-based financial services including lending, then choose Axos.
Read the Complete Axos Invest Review
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