Empower (formerly Personal Capital) vs. Betterment Review
Choosing a robo-advisor can be daunting. This Empower vs. Betterment Review will help you sort out the similarities and differences. As a former portfolio manager and investment expert, I discuss the differences in fees, investment style and provide insight into who is best suited for each robo-advisor. If you’re simply looking to utilize Empowers free tools and want to compare them against another free tool like Mint, check out our Empower vs Mint comparison piece.
It’s essential to keep your financial goals in mind if you want to achieve them, and today’s featured robo-advisors will help you do just that.
*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.
Empower and Betterment, two goals-oriented robo-advisors, may have been designed for different client types, but both keep your financial needs in mind and offer unique ways of setting and tracking financial goals.
First, a quick overview of Betterment vs Empower Robo-Advisor Features.
|Goals-based digital investment manager with a variety of portfolio styles including crypto. For additional fees clients can access financial advisors.
|Empower offers stellar free investment management tools. Their paid money management platform is comprehensive, and includes Certified Financial Planners for all.
|Minimum Investment Amount
|Digital-no minimum, $10 to invest
|No minimum for use of free financial and investment management tools.
$4.00 per month for accounts worth less than $20,000
0.25% AUM for accounts worth more than $20,000 or with $250 per month auto deposit.
Premium: 0.40% AUM
1% aum (crypto)
|Zero fees for access to free investment management tracking & recommendations.
Empower Advisors fees decline as assets increase.
$1,000,0000-$3,000,000 .89% AUM down to
0.49% AUM for accounts over $10,000,000.
|Investment management. Financial advisors for additional fee. Socially-responsible, income, smart beta and crypto portfolios. Tax-loss harvesting. High yield cash account through partner banks.
|Paid feature includes access CFP advisor. Investment, financial account analysis, and recommendations, rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting, saving and spending tracker, and retirement planning. Free financial management tools for retirement, investment and cash management.
|Promotions and Website
|FREE investment, saving, spending, retirement planning tools.
Empower vs. Betterment Robo-Advisor — Overview
Both of these robo-advisors help clients easily set financial goals. They also offer the best of the robo-advising features: portfolio rebalancing and review, a variety of investment options, and multiple account types.
However, these two robo-advisors are much less alike than they would seem at first glance.
Empower is a large robo-advisor, with two distinct services:
- Free financial services which include extensive budget and investment tracking as well as retirement planning and investment check up tools.
- Empower Wealth Management is their paid automated investment advisory service, with access to human financial planners and comprehensive wealth management.
The wide spectrum of services offered means that Empower is a powerhouse financial planner and investment manager.
Both Empower and Betterment Premium require a $100,000 minimum for their top level services which include unlimited access to Certified Financial Planners and are designed for the mass affluent. These premium services charge management fees, based upon the amount of assets managed (AUM).
At Empower, in exchange for a higher minimum investment amount clients experience personalized investment advice, the opportunity to invest in individual stocks as well as funds and other bespoke services.
Betterment is goals-oriented, so clients begin their relationship with Betterment looking toward the future. This robo-advisor also has two levels of service:
- Betterment Digital has no investment minimum (with $10 to begin investing) and serves smaller investors, or those seeking a completely digital investment manager. Betterment Digital users are able to buy low fee financial planning packages.
- Betterment Premium offers unlimited access to financial advisors and personalized services for wealthier investors for a 0.40% AUM fee.
In fact, when comparing Betterment Premium vs a financial advisor, the major difference just might be lower fees with Betterment.
Empower vs. Betterment—Top Features
These robo-advisors are customer-focused, offer a balance of free and premium services with access to personalized investment advice.
Empower Top Features Overview:
- Shows all of your financial accounts together in one place
- Free retirement and financial tracking (sign up now for free services!)
- Access to human financial planners with paid services
- Investment analysis and recommendations including socially responsible investing and unique sector approach to investment management.
- Complete financial and retirement plan
- Empower Cash with high yield savings account
- Complex financial situations can access legal and tax guidance as well.
Betterment Top Features Overview:
- Customizable goals-based investing
- Live video meetings with financial advisors, included with Betterment Premium (for 0.40% AUM fee),
- Digital users can pay for financial planning packages.
- Diverse investment options including smart-beta, socially responsible and crypto investing
- Betterment Checking and Betterment Cash Reserve, a suite of cash management tools including both high yield savings and checking account options – through partner banks.
Betterment vs. Empower Robo-Advisors —Who Benefits?
Anyone can benefit from Empower’s free financial planning tools. The retirement planner is useful at any stage of the planning process, and we love the financial tracker for retirees at Empower. Even if you use Quicken or another investment tracker, it’s wise to sign up for the free Empower financial tools.
When it comes to the paid services, however, only more financially well-off investors (with more than $100,000 to invest) can benefit from Empower Wealth Management or Betterment Premium.
At Empower, If you have a large enough portfolio, the investment management fees will buy you access to personalized financial advising services and attentive account management. Larger investors at Empower will also find referrals to attorneys for estate planning and accountants for more in depth tax advice. Empower Wealth management’s minimum of $100,000 and fee of 0.87% of assets under management make this a good choice for those high net worth individuals with more complicated financial situations.
Betterment Premium and Empower Wealth Management fees are both lower than those of typical financial planners, which normally hover around 1.0% to 1.25% of assets under management.
Small investors looking for investment management and crypto portfolios will choose Betterment. The 0.25% investment management fee or $4.00 per month, for smaller investors, is reasonable, and the no minimum (with $10 to begin investing) is wonderful for newbies. Betterment’s goal based platform is ideal for those in the wealth-accumulation stages who are saving for a home down payment, college and retirement. Empower lacks a comparable digital investment management offer for investors with less than $100,000 to invest.
Anyone seeking affordable digital investment management with an infrequent need to speak with a licensed financial advisor will likely find what they need at Betterment.
The availability of discrete, low-fee, financial advice packages for Betterment users makes Betterment Digital one of our favorite robo-advisors.
Fee-conscious, wealthy investors, with more than $100,000 to invest might prefer the Betterment Premium service that includes unlimited meetings with financial advisors. The fee for Betterment Premium is 0.40% of assets managed.
So, if you have less than $100,000 to invest, let Betterment manage your investment portfolio.
If you’re looking for investment management and have more than $100,000 to invest, either Empower or Betterment might be right for you.
But, regardless of your investable assets, anyone can sign up for the free Empower Investment Management Tools and Reports.
Betterment vs. Empower — Fees and Minimums
When comparing Empower vs. Betterment for fees and minimum investment amounts, Betterment is the clearly more affordable choice. Betterment Digital investors can open an account with no minimum balance required, and $10 to begin investing. Although for access to unlimited video chat with financial planners, the Betterment Premium requires a $100,000 minimum, like Empower.
For higher net worth investors Betterment Premium charges lower asset management fees than Empower Wealth Management.
- $4.00 per month for accounts worth less than $20,000
- 0.25% AUM for accounts worth more than $20,000 or with $250 per month auto deposit.
Premium: 0.40% AUM
- 1.0% AUM per month – plus trading fees for Digital clients
- 1.15% AUM – plus trading for Premium clients
Financial Advice Packages
Prices range from $299 to $399 per financial advice package
Cash accounts (through partner banks) do not charge management fees.
Access to the Empower budgeting, retirement planning and investment tracking tools is free.
Empower Advisors, the premium service, requires a $100,000 minimum investment amount. The Emmpower Wealth Management fees are higher than the Betterment Premium management fee, beginning at 0.89% AUM but gradually declining as portfolios grow. Clients with accounts valued over $10 million, for instance, will only pay 0.49% AUM.
Yet, we recommend considering more factors than fees alone, when evaluating whether to choose Betterment vs. Empower.
Empower vs. Betterment—Deep Dive
Aside from the difference in fees and minimum initial investments, what is it that really sets these two robo-advisors apart?
If you had to choose between Empower vs Betterment, which better suits your financial needs?
Empower vs. Betterment—Personalized Service
Even though automated investment advisors are effective because they tend to run autonomously, many investors want a human connection to their finances. Empower and Betterment both use human financial planners (for additional fees) in their advising services, though at differing levels.
For Betterment clients, human financial planners are accessible for all users. In-person video chat meetings are available for Premium and a la carte financial advice sessions are ideal for Betterment Digital clients-for additional fees. This wide range of accessibility allows Betterment users to access financial planning help regardless of the size of their portfolio or pocketbook.
With more than $1 million of investable assets the Empower Wealth Management is akin to guidance available at traditional financial advisory firms, that charge much higher fees. These investors receive private banking services, access to private equity investments, estate planning, tax strategy, insurance recommendations and more individualized services.
Empower vs. Betterment—Keeping Your Goals Clear
Empower offers free goal-tracking for your existing portfolio, if that’s all that you’re seeking.
Betterment promotes itself as a goals-based robo-advisor, and this is true. Betterment allows users to create multiple goals and track their progress toward these goals. Because of this, Betterment clients can always evaluate their financial growth against their long and short term goals.
Empower also has goal-tracking features, and these features are part of their free offerings. For instance, the retirement planner allows users to add milestones or goals along the road to retirement. These entries immediately change the estimated success rate of retirement, which makes it easy to see when and how you might need to adjust your finances in order to stay on target.
Empower vs. Betterment—Investment Types
In this category, the Empower vs. Betterment robo-advisor comparison duel matches up well.
Empower offers their clients access to individual stocks, bonds, and alternative ETFs. Betterment offers domestic and international stock and bond ETFs from Vanguard and iShares ETFs (funds subject to change). Cryptocurrency is also available from Betterment. While both platforms offers socially responsible investments.
Betterment offers a broad range of exchange traded funds from a range of stock and bond categories. Additionally, Betterment investors have access to:
- Smart Beta portfolios
- Socially responsible investing – several choices
- Income portfolios
- Cryptocurrency portfolios
Investors need to understand that the investment methodology for Betterment and Empower Wealth Management are distinct. While Betterment invests your money in index funds, most of these funds are weighted by market-capitalization. That means that the exposure to each sector of the investment world is comparable to those in unweighted market indexes like the S&P 500.
Empower provides research on their website which claims that equal weighting, in lieu of sector-weighting your investments offers higher returns. Empower also offers individual stock investing.
Thus, Betterment and Empower Investment methodologies are distinct.
We give Betterment and Empower investment choices a tie. Unless you prefer individual stocks in your portfolio (Empower) or cryptocurency (Betterment), both platforms offer excellent investment choices albeit with distinct investment strategies.
Regardless of which paid robo-advisor that you choose. There’s every reason to sign up for the Free Empower investment management tools:
Betterment vs. Empower Investment Performance
Comparing performance between robo-advisors that each offer differing investments and a multitude of invest allocations is quite difficult – if not impossible. Although there are firms that spend time calculating which robo-advisor had the highest returns during certain time periods, we don’t believe that this data directly correlates with future returns.
As the saying goes, past performance doesn’t guarantee future returns.
That said, both Betterment and Empower have top notch investment teams and base their investment strategies on well-regarded investing theory.
Ultimately, when calculating investment returns, your future returns are typically correlated with those of the asset classes of your investments. So, if you own 25% large-cap stocks in your portfolio, then 25% of your portfolio’s returns will approximate the returns of that asset category.
You can be confident that the return of each platform will be competitive with their asset allocations, although higher fees can reduce long term investment returns.
Empower FREE Portfolio Review
If you sign up for the free Empower investment management tools, and your aggregate linked accounts are worth more than $100,000, you’re eligible for a free portfolio review, by a financial planner.
Click on the button below, sign up and get your investment portfolio reviewed by a Certified Financial Planner (no strings attached):
Just sign up with the link, connect your accounts and wait for a call from the Empower representative!
Is Empower worth the fee?
Is Empower good?
Is Empower better than Mint?
Empower vs. Betterment—The Takeaway
If you have more than $100,000, and want a full-service financial planner Empower or Betterment might be the way to go. The access to unlimited financial advisory advice is great for those with greater assets. While the highest net worth clients might gravitate towards Empower with it’s extensive wealth management services that span investing, insurance, tax and estate planning, and access to private banking and investing.
Don’t write Betterment off yet, though! Even though this robo-advisor might seem to be more geared toward smaller accounts, owing to its no minimum balance requirement and lower fees, Betterment is well equipped to handle large account types as well. Those who want hands-on financial advice can get it by upgrading to Betterment Premium, which also requires a $100,000 minimum, and charges 0.40% AUM. For smaller investors, Betterment’s fee-based financial planning packages are an affordable option for targeted issues like; financial check up, marriage or college planning.
If you prefer a sector weighted investment approach, then Empower is best suited to your needs. While, if you’re more interested in typical market-weight investing, then Betterment is the way to go.
In choosing which robo-advisor might be right for you, make sure you weigh all the factors: cost, access to human financial planners and investment offerings might be only a few of the selling points you need to consider.
We believe that in the comparison between Empower and Betterment, both robo-advisors are based on sound science, have top-notch advisors and are well suited to manage your money.
Read: Betterment Review
Read: Empowerl Review
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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.
*Betterment is not a licensed tax advisor. Tax Loss Harvesting+ (TLH+) is not suitable for all investors. Read more at https://www.betterment.com/legal/tax-loss-harvesting and consider your personal circumstances before deciding whether to utilize Betterment’s TLH+ feature. Investing involves risk. Performance not guaranteed.
**Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank, and cash transfers to program banks are conducted through the clients’ brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities. For Cash Reserve (“CR”), Betterment LLC only receives compensation from our program banks; Betterment LLC and Betterment Securities do not charge fees on your CR balance. Checking accounts and the Betterment Visa Debit Card provided and issued by nbkc bank, Member FDIC. Checking made available through Betterment Financial LLC. Neither Betterment Financial LLC, nor any of their affiliates, is a bank. Betterment Financial LLC reimburses ATM fees and the Visa® 1% foreign transaction fee worldwide, everywhere Visa is accepted.
Empower compensates Stocktrades Ltd for new leads. Stocktrades Ltd is not an investment client of Empower.