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Robo-advisors With the Most Assets Under Management (AUM)

Robo Advisors with the Most AUM in 2018

In the financial advisory world, assets under management, or AUM, is a very important metric. Most advisors, both traditional and robo-advisors, earn their income as a percentage of AUM. Experts estimate that robo-advisors could see their assets under management increase by over $800 billion over the next five years as they continue to plow investors’ money into electronically traded funds (ETFs) according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. A.T. Kearney estimates that digital advice could grow to over $1 trillion by 2020, a 68% increase over current levels.

As robo-advisors continue to grow in popularity, it’s interesting to track the growth of robo advisors’ AUM. Notice that the two top robo-advisor AUM leaders trend towards large investment brokerage houses with existing clients under roof.

Robo-Advisors With the Most AUM -2018

Personal Capital$6 billion AUM
Wealthfront$9 billion AUM
Betterment$10 billion AUM
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios$23 billion AUM
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services$93 billion AUM

Below is a synopsis of the top five most popular robo advisors with the most assets under management, how much money investors have entrusted them (their current AUMs), and a differentiating features that set each apart from the others.

Personal Capital

Assets managed as of January 2018: Over $6 billion AUM

Personal Capital is an automated investment manager with a free investment management platform. The free money management software offers a complete view of your financial picture all in one place. The site provides a way to view bills, income, debt, investments, and more from a single location. Personal Capital allows its customers to link their existing banking accounts to the site, which gives clients the ability to track their spending, retirement savings and their portfolio’s performance. The site also offers advice based on your investments and financial accounts.

Although the basic level of the service is free, the company offers Personal Capital Advisors, a paid comprehensive automated investment advisory service with dedicated financial advisors. The paid service requires a $100,000 minimum account balance.  Their investment management approach is unique, with a sector based asset allocation and access to individual stocks. They also provide typical rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting along with dedicated financial advisors. Personal Capital provides perfomance data since 2012, and shows better annual returns than their target benchmarks.

Personal Capital’s fees start at .79% for accounts up to $3 million and decline as AUM fall.

Personal Capital review.

Go directly to the Personal Capital website.


Assets managed as of January 2018: Over $9 billion in AUM

Wealthfront is a low-cost leader in the robo advisory space. They offer great research, low fees, and index matching returns based on individuals’ unique risk profiles. The site offers daily tax-harvesting, direct indexing, and automatic rebalancing. Path, is Wealthfront’s all digital financial advisor.

Wealthfront allows you to see exactly how much to save and invest for the future. It also shows you how life events and changes will impact your account. The platform provides a complete financial planning picture and answers your financial questions without having to talk to a traditional financial advisor. The service is free for accounts valued at $10,000 or less. Wealthfront charges 0.25% AUM for account values over $10,000. Like most robo advisors, Wealthfront invests clients’ funds in exchange-traded funds that track 11 major asset classes and offers multiple account types.

Wealthfront review.


Assets managed as of January 2018: Over $10 billion AUM

Like most of the leading robo-advisors, Betterment offers investors automated tax-loss harvesting, rebalancing, and tax-efficient techniques, and even an advisor messaging service for all customers which allows a texting type service that sends and receives messages from a human financial advisor.

Betterment is at the forefront of robo-investing by offering not only access to financial advisors but socially responsible, smart beta and income portfolio investment options.

There is no minimum account balance required for Betterment investors who use the company’s digital plan. Betterment charges only 0.25% AUM for accounts valued up to $2 million for its Digital Plan, with zero management fees for additional assets. Betterment also offers a Premium Plan, which requires a $100,000 minimum investment and charges a 0.40% AUM. Betterment Premium offers access to Certified Financial Planners.

Betterment review.

Go directly to the Betterment Website.

2018 largest robo-advisors by AUM. Vanguard takes number 1 spot.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

Assets managed as of September 30, 2017 (the latest available data): Over $23 billion in AUM (which includes Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and Institutional Portfolios programs)

Schwab owns the title of the best performing robo-advisor for 2017. With 125% year over year AUM gains and zero management fees, it’s no surprise that Schwab is leading the pack.

The service earns management fees from its own ETFs and other third-party funds that it recommends to its customers. The minimum balance to open an account with Schwab Intelligent Portfolios is $5,000. The site offers clients investments in individual retirement accounts (IRA), 401k retirement plans, 401k rollovers, taxable accounts, and trusts.

Like other robo advisors, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios offers tax-loss harvesting, rebalancing, and other features. Additionally, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios also provides human advisor-assisted services although not dedicated financial advisors like Personal Capital or Betterment Premium.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios review.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Assets managed as of September 30, 2017 (the latest available data): Over $93 billion

Unlike other robo advisors, humans lead Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. Financial professionals and their clients create, manage, and rebalance their investment portfolios based on the customer’s needs and financial situation.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services requires a $50,000 minimum account balance, which accounts for the hands-on approach not typically seen in the robo advisory community. Vanguard charges a 0.30% AUM fee, and there may be additional commissions or other fees depending on the investments you and the advisor choose. For accounts that have less than $500,000 invested, clients have access to a team of advisors instead of a dedicated financial planner to work with you.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services review.

Takeaway – Does Robo-Advisor AUM Matter

Each robo-advisor differs in their offerings, advantages, and disadvantages for each investor. To decide which robo-advisor is best, it’s important to categorize what services you’re seeking, how much money you have to invest, and whether you need access to human advice, or not.

Use this robo-advisor AUM data in conjunction with other research, to guide your digital investment advisor decision.

Robo advisors share many of the same features such as a low initial investment, account rebalancing, low fees based on the amount you’ve invested and various investment options. As the assets under management in robo advisors continue to rise, more companies will continue to enter the market, and both investment and advisory choices will increase as well. The growth in robo advisors’ AUMs will spur an increase in competition and offerings, and investors will ultimately benefit.

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Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS

Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS

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