Is Wealthfront Safe? All Security Questions Answered

is wealthfront safe_image of lock and security symbols

Before making an investment decision, determining the safety of your money should be your top priority. Robo-advisors can sometimes seem like higher-risk investment options, since they often exist solely online and many do not often have a human financial advisor counterpart. However, robo-advisors have many ways to protect your data and ensure your investments stay safe.

One secure robo-advisor is Wealthfront, an all-digital robo-advisor with a host of affordable financial planning services. Wealthfront launched in 2008 and has over $21 billion in assets under management, making them a long-standing, high-performance independent robo-advisor.

Wealthfront offers both investment management and a high-yield cash account, in addition to lending and financial planning services.

Clients can get started investing through Wealthfront with a $500 minimum investment and an 0.25% AUM management fee. Additionally, Wealthfront will manage the first $5,000 for free with the sign up link below. The investment side of this robo-advisor offers many perks, such as daily tax-loss harvesting and varied account types.

For clients looking for a cash account, Wealthfront offers a no-fee, $1 minimum starting investment account that can be linked to a debit card. This cash account is also a high-yield account, which means it pays more interest than a brick-and-mortar bank will.

If you’re wondering “Is Wealthfront secure?” you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will explore the ways Wealthfront keeps your information – and your money! – secure across both their investment management tools and their high-yield cash accounts. We’ll also cover what you can expect if Wealthfront goes out of business, and how FDIC insurance affects robo-advisors with cash accounts.

Finally, if you’re wondering, “Is it safe to link accounts to wealthfront?” The answer is, “Yes.”

Is Wealthfront Secure?

The short answer is yes, Wealthfront takes thoughtful measures to ensure your account information will be secure.

Wealthfront security measures include using bank-grade security and third-party providers to keep your data safe. They do not store account passwords on Wealthfront servers, and they don’t share your data. Additionally, the only data Wealthfront requests is data that will help them provide you with comprehensive financial advice.

Wealthfront also offers two-factor authentication. Two factor authentication or 2FA is an added layer of security that surpasses just a username and password. This security feature might include sending a code to your phone or email address on record. You aren’t allowed access to your account until you input the code from your proprietary device.

However, there is something important to note about security: in this case, security refers to how well protected your personal data is. Investment portfolios can still lose money because of the nature of the stock market, but this does not impact how secure a robo-advisor is.

Is my Wealthfront Investment Account Insured?

Are you wondering, “Is Wealthfront SIPC Insured?”

Your Wealthfront Investment Account carries SIPC insurance.

The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) insures Wealthfront investment accounts for up to $500,000, or $250,000 cash. SIPC insurance protects your money and securities against loss.

Although, even with SIPC insurance, investment accounts can still lose value due to market volatility. All investors need to understand that investments go up and down in value, despite the fact that over the long term stock market returns have been about 9%. No insurance will protect against the normal volatility of investment markets.

However, SIPC insurance protects you against broker-dealer failure, which provides an extra level of security to your account. You don’t need to worry about losing your money in the unlikely event that Wealthfront goes out of business.

Are you worried about insurance, if your account value surpasses $500,000, since SIPC only covers up to that amount?

SIPC insurance is quite irrelevant when it comes to asset protection.  In fact it has seldom been used over the 42 years it has been available. Simply put there are exceptionally few cases where investors have lost money due to a brokerage firm going out of business.

“The False Comfort of SIPC Insurance,” Wealthfront blog

For larger investors, worried about the lack of SIPC insurance for account over $500,000, it is unlikely that you will lose assets to bank failure. That said, some larger investment brokers, like Charles Schwab provide added insurance through Lloyds of London above the $500,000 amount. You might also consider capping your investment account to $500,000 at Wealthfront.

Once you select your institution, you’ll be prompted to enter your username and password with that bank or brokerage, and Wealthfront will then link to your account. Your security is important to us. We use bank level security to keep your account safe. Linking does not allow Wealthfront to manage or transfer assets in your linked account. 

Wealthfront website

Today, you can be confident that linking accounts is commonplace among fintech platforms as well as traditional financial insititutions like banks and investment brokerages. Wealthfront has bank-level security, so if you’re comfortable banking online, it is safe to link accounts to Wealthfront.

Is my Wealthfront Cash Account Safe?

As part of the Wealthfront offerings, Wealthfront’s back-grade security systems protect cash accounts. This means that whether you use the Cash and Investment accounts or just one, your personal information is highly secure. This security protects you from hackers who might want to access your personal information like your social security number.

Security looks a bit different for cash accounts and investment portfolios, however. Unlike the investment side of Wealthfront, cash accounts value should not decline. Since your money is not invested in a fluctuating stock, your cash account should only grow and earn more interest over time. In this case, security involves both making sure your data stays safe – similar to the investment side of Wealthfront – and insuring your deposits are insured through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Next you’ll learn about the FDIC insurance that protects your Wealthfront Cash account.

Is Wealthfront FDIC Insured?

The Wealthfront Cash Account deposits are stored in four different partner banks to guarantee clients FDIC insurance coverage of up to $1 million. This puts Wealthfront cash clients at a distinct advantage when compared to clients who use traditional brick and mortar bank accounts, since Wealthfront clients will not need to visit four different banks in person to access their money.

Another benefit to Wealthfront’s cash account is the interest rate, which is currently 8x higher than the national average. This makes the cash account a no-brainer for individuals who want to maximize earnings and be protected with FDIC insurance with little effort on their part.

The current Wealthfront Cash Account interest rate is .10%. This is 5 times the national average. The rate will vary based upon market interest rates.

Even though interest rates are currently low, it’s possible that they will rise in the future. So, it’s good to invest in a cash account that strives to offer higher interest payments than competitors.

Wealthfront Investment Management vs. Wealthfront Cash Accounts

Though both investment and cash accounts are protected in many ways, there are some crucial differences in how Wealthfront secures your financial investments in each case.

Similarities and Differences between Wealthfront’s Investment and Cash Accounts

 Investment AccountsCash Accounts
Personal Data Protection?Yes – bank-level security through a third-party provider; information is not shared.Yes – bank-level security through a third-party provider; information is not shared.
Protected Against Market Fluctuations?No – there is always a risk that investment portfolios will decrease in value through no fault of the investor or the investment manager (robo-advisor or otherwise). These fluctuations are part of the risk involved in investing.Yes – cash accounts are not invested in the stock market, and therefore grow according to the annual interest rate but do not decrease in value unless you make a withdrawal.
How Are Your Funds Insured?Investment accounts are insured through SIPC for up to $500,000, or up to $250,00 for cash entities.Cash accounts are FDIC insured. Wealthfront uses four different partner banks to guarantee clients up to $1 million in FDIC insurance ($250,000 per partner bank).

Which is More Secure: Wealthfront Investing or Wealthfront Cash Account?

If you’re primarily worried about your personal data remaining secure, you can’t go wrong with either account type. Wealthfront security options are as thorough as traditional banks.

Even though investment portfolios can lose value due to market fluctuations, Wealthfront guarantees SIPC insurance coverage on these accounts to protect you from broker-dealer failure. Similarly, cash accounts are protected by FDIC insurance. That means that if something goes awry with Wealthfront itself, client deposits are safe.

What Happens if Wealthfront Goes Out of Business?

The good news is that there are many protections available to Wealthfront customers. The first two have already been named: SIPC and FDIC insurance will ensure that your assets – at least up to the insured values – are returned to you in case of an untimely closure. Wealthfront also works with SEC and FINRA, other securities regulators, to protect assets.

Occasionally robo-advisors are acquired by larger banks or other entities; in these instances, clients are typically decide to keep their accounts with the new entity or move their assets to another investment management platform.

Wealthfront is no different in this regard. Since your account is held under your own name, you will always be permitted to manage your account as you see fit in the instance that Wealthfront is acquired by another firm. This includes continuing to add assets to your portfolio if you wish to remain with the new company or withdrawing your assets and moving them to a different provider.

FAQ

Is my money safe with Wealthfront?

Your money is as safe with Wealthfront as it would be with any major bank of investment company. Typically, financial institutions use high level security measures and 2FA so that strangers can’t log into your account.

Is there a penalty for withdrawing from Wealthfront?

No. It’s your money and you can withdraw it at any time and for any reason. Be aware that it might take a few days to receive your funds.

Should I invest with Wealthfront?

The answer to this question depends upon your financial situation, goals, and need for a financial advisor and/or high yield cash account. Wealthfront is well-regarded and one of the oldest robo advisory firms available. To help you decide, read the Wealthfront Review.

The Takeaway: Wealthfront is Secure, but is it Right for You?

Wealthfront uses a myriad of security and insurance protections to ensure that your personal data and assets are secure. From employing third-party, bank-grade security to keep your data secure, to using both FDIC and SIPC insurance to protect you from losses due to broker-dealer failure or sudden closure, Wealthfront has clearly thought of everything.

Still, is Wealthfront the right robo-advisor for you? When we put Wealthfront head-to-head with big-bank robos, such as Fidelity Go, we found independently-owned Wealthfront really held its own. While there are a lot of perks to using a robo-advisors connected to a bigger financial institution, Wealthfront manages to offer quite a few services with reasonable fees.

In comparison to robo-advisors like Betterment and M1 Finance, Wealthfront is still on an even playing field: like Wealthfront, Betterment is one of the earliest and largest stand-alone robos. Both Wealthfront and Betterment offer investment management for only 0.25% AUM fees, though Betterment does offer human financial planners as part of their Digital package. M1 Finance and Wealthfront both offer all-digital investment advice, making them ideal for investors who don’t mind the absence of human financial professionals.

Essentially, Wealthfront is a secure and safe robo-advisor that is ideal for clients with at least $500 for an initial investment, who appreciate the frequency of daily tax-loss harvesting, and who want to have multiple financial products, such as a checking account and loans, under one roof.

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*Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t believe is valuable.

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