Wells Fargo Robo Advisor – Is it Right for You?
Whether Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor is the robo-advisor for you depends on your investing experience, preferred kind of engagement with your investments, and access to capital.
This Intuitive Investor review reveals that the Wells Fargo robo-advisor is right for beginner investors or investors who prefer entirely automated, hands-off investing and can raise the $5,000 minimum. It is also appropriate for people who already have accounts with Wells Fargo.
- Wells Fargo Robo Advisor – Is it Right for You?
- What is Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor?
- Features at a Glance
- Who is Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor Best for?
- Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor Drill Down
- Investing Strategy
- Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor Pros and Cons
- Wrap Up
- Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor vs SoFi Invest
Name: Wells Fargo Intuitive Investors Review
Description: Wells Fargo robo-advisor is a hybrid robo-advisor with access to live and automated investment advice.
Ease of Use
Tool & Resources
- Wells Fargo customers
- Beginning investors
- Live financial advisors
- Access to Wells Fargo branches and Products
- Diverse investing strategies
- Cumbersome onboarding
- High minimum investment amount
What is Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor?
Wells Fargo and Company operate the Intuitive Investor program as part of Wells Fargo Advisors, registered broker-dealers, and non-bank affiliates. Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor is a robo-advisor that simplifies and automates investing for the hands-off investor.
It allows you to invest in one of nine pre-set diversified portfolios designed by experts. After completing a simple questionnaire about your investing goals, risk tolerance, and time scale, the technology suggests the portfolio best suited to your needs.
Intuitive Investor uses technology – computer algorithms – to monitor, balance, and maintain your portfolio over time. You may also elect to talk to a financial advisor if you wish to become more involved or have questions about your investments.
The hybrid robo-advisor combo with live advisors and digital investment management is great for those who prefer to have someone to chat with when financial questions arise.
Features at a Glance
|Overview||Hybrid investment manager with live and digital investing management. Access to breadth of Wells Fargo products and services.|
|Minimum Investment Amount||$5,000|
|Fee Structure||0.35% of AUM|
|Top Features||Access to financial advisors. Mix of investment portfolios, and active and passive strategies. Tax loss harvesting upon request. Access to Wells Fargo branches.|
|Accounts Available||Individual, joint, and custodial brokerage. Roth, Traditional and SEP IRA, or Inherited IRA.|
|Investment Funds||Diversified mix of low fee ETFs including passive and active investing strategies.|
|Contact & Investing Advice||24/7 telephone service for general inquiries. Financial advisors available Monday - Saturday. Branch access.|
Who is Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor Best for?
Beginner investors: You do not need to know much about investing or understand the intricacies that go with managing an investment account over the long run. It makes Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor well suited to beginner investors.
Hands-off investors: The Intuitive Investor program positions itself to suit the hands-off investor whose preference is to feed funds into their investment account and outsource the rest.
Unsophisticated investors: Wells Fargo boasts that its Intuitive Investor program is ‘simplified investing with a personal touch’. The portfolios are highly diversified across countries and economic sectors and hold investments in different types of ETFs.
Investors in possession of a high minimum investment: You must feed your account with a minimum of $5,000 within 180 days of opening it. It signals that the program suits the more affluent investor.
Existing Wells Fargo customers or those seeking a breadth of financial services and branch locations.
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor Drill Down
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor comes with the following fees:
- Annual advisory fee at 0.35% of your account value (discounted to 0.30% when linked to a Well Fargo bank portfolio). It is charged quarterly and covers the investment account management and a range of advisory services, including unlimited guidance calls to financial advisors.
- Portfolio’s estimated expenses cover the costs of buying and selling ETFs. You can check the estimated expense ratios for the nine investment portfolios offered by the Intuitive Investor program; these ratios vary between 0.07% of assets for a conservative income portfolio and 0.12% of assets for an aggressive growth portfolio.
- Account transfer and termination fees include IRA termination fee ($95), outgoing account transfer fee ($95), and outgoing national and international wire transfer fees.
The minimum investment required to open an Intuitive Investor account is $5,000.
This is a similar minimum to Schwab Intelligent portfolios.
While SoFi Invest offers financial advisors, zero management fees and a one dollar investment minimum.
This account offers optional tax-loss harvesting monitoring for opportunities to lower your tax liability. The (optional) tax-loss harvesting service is included in the annual advisory fee.
Tax loss harvesting only applies to taxable investment accounts.
Portfolio Automation – Rebalancing
Investing with the Intuitive Investor program is highly automated, and sophisticated algorithms monitor your account allocations daily and ensure that these are on track- rebalancing them when necessary. Algorithms track the individual funds in your portfolio, looking for misalignment between your portfolio, and your stated goals.
You can also automate your investment portfolio contributions by setting up a recurrent transfer.
|Robo Advisor||Management Fee||Investment Minimum||Sign up|
|0.25% of AUM (free managment promo)||None||Sign up|
|0.25% of AUM ($5,000 managed for free)||$500||Sign up|
|$1-$9 per month||None||Sign up|
|Basic-None Premium-$30/month ($300 set up fee)||$5,000||Sign up|
Desktop and Mobile Experience
Intuitive Investor is part of the Well Fargo Advisor site. I had no problem finding it, but I started by Googling Intuitive Investor. Finding the program starting from the Advisor site home page is trickier because the Intuitive Investor is one among many offerings.
The website is wholly mobile-ready and is easy to read, navigate, and use on mobile phones and tablets.
There is no dedicated Wells Fargo Intuitive investor app, thus you’ll need to wade through the platform to track your investments.
Wells Fargo Customer Service
Customer service includes 24/7 telephone service to cover general inquiries, and financial advisors are available Monday through Saturday.
(Be warned that you may need to wait for up to four, five minutes for your call to be answered.)
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor offers a comprehensive FAQ section but no live chat.
User Experience – Sign-up
Found this a bit tricky, I must say.
I found the Wells Fargo Advisors page fine. But when I attempted to open an account, things got a bit peculiar.
There is a button ‘sign on to begin’ and clicking it takes you to a page informing you that you must sign on using your Wells Fargo online username and password to start the questionnaire. I do not have a Wells Fargo account, online or otherwise.
After some time, I did find how to sign up, and things got very personal – the first information I was asked to provide was my social security number.
It clearly contradicts Wells Fargo’s claim that no commitment is necessary to fill in the questionnaire and to view the portfolio recommendations.
It threw me a bit; I will not hide. In my mind, it is not unreasonable to expect to be allowed a closer look at the mechanics of the platform before submitting my personal data.
Reputedly, once you are over this initial hurdle, the onboarding works smoothly. You fill in a simple questionnaire aiming to assess your aims, risk tolerance, and time horizons. After that, the system recommends one of the nine pre-set portfolios, and you are on your way to ‘hassle-free’ investing.
Security is up to industry standards using 256-bit SSL encryption as well as two-factor authentication for both desktop and mobile functions. Wells Fargo also guarantees fund replacement if the site or account is hacked. The Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network holds client funds, providing access to Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and excess insurance.
Your recommended portfolio will be comprised of 7 – 11 exchange-traded funds (ETFs), carefully selected to meet your recommended asset allocation and intended portfolio objective.
In addition to traditional low-cost ETFs that seek to track market-weighted indexes, we also offer ETFs that are designed to track the performance of alternatively weighted indexes, such as equally weighted, fundamentally weighted, and volatility-weighted indexes, in an effort to achieve higher returns and better long-term diversification.
Some of these types of funds are called Smart Beta, also available at Betterment.
Intuitive Investor Asset Classes
- US Large Cap
- US Mid Cap
- US Small Cap
- Developed International
- Emerging Markets
Fixed Income – Bonds
- US Investment Grade
- Emerging Market Debt
- Domestic High Yield
- Developed International Debt
- Global Real Estate (REITs)
Active, passive, or mixed investments?
Once you have selected your portfolio, investments are entirely passive – the only thing you must do is continue contributing to your Intuitive Investor account.
You can automate your contributions as well.
Of course, you can always change your asset allocation, as your situation evolves.
Portfolio Strategy Types
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor offers three types of portfolios:
- Income (more bonds than stocks)
- Growth and Income (balanced bonds and shares)
- Growth (more stocks than bonds).
Each type further comprises three portfolios. For instance, you can select from three ‘Income’ portfolios, e.g., conservative, moderate, and aggressive.
The image above is an example of an asset allocation or mix for the moderate investor who selects the “Growth and Income” style investment portfolio.
Following is the asset allocation that you can expect for each of the investment strategies for the three types of investors – conservative, moderate and aggressive.
Sample Asset Allocation for Income, Income and Growth, and Growth Portfolios
Wells Fargo Robo Asset Allocation
85% Fixed income
72% Fixed income
|33% Equity |
64% Fixed income
|Income and Growth||44% Equity |
53% Fixed income
|54% Equity |
43% Fixed income
|62% Equity |
35% Fixed income
|Growth||73% Equity |
25% Fixed income
|81% Equity |
17% Fixed income
|92% Equity |
6% Fixed income
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor has a detailed white paper which outlines their investment strategy. It’s a bit technical, but quite informative.
We don’t like that the list of actual investment funds aren’t listed on the site.
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor Pros and Cons
There is much to recommend the Intuitive Investor program, and there are also features on which we are not keen.
Here are some features we liked:
- Fully automated investment portfolios.
- Excellent offering of strategies and ETFs.
- Tax loss harvesting available for taxable accounts.
- Wide range of accounts.
- Clear and easy to understand fees structure.
- Can talk to a financial advisor.
- Access to other services at Wells Fargo.
Here are some features with which we are not too enamored:
- Sign up process is clumsy.
- Asks for personal information up front.
- Investment funds aren’t listed on the public website.
- High minimum investment amount.
- High-ish relative fees. Wealthfront and Betterment are lower fee choices. While Schwab, SoFi and Ally Invest all offer fee-free investment management. While SoFi also offers live financial advice, with no management fees. And Betterment also offers access to financial advisors.
- No performance data available.
The Intuitive Investor robo-advisor has many benefits, such as live financial advisors and various investment strategies. One thing to watch out for is that Wells Fargo is known for cross-selling, which is a practice in which Wells Fargo Advisors suggest additional higher fee products for their existing customers.
Wells Fargo named their robo-advisor platform “Intuitive Investors.” This refers to the computer algorithms that incorporate your responses to questions about your goals and risk tolerance and then recommends an investment portfolio, based on your answers.
Whenever you receive investment advice, you must evaluate the credentials, advice, and fees. We like the Wells Fargo Intuitive advisors robo-advisors. The individual Wells Fargo Advisors should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Following this review of Intuitive Investor, my conclusion is that its most impressive feature, and most distinctive when compared to other robo-advisors, is the unlimited access to financial advisors. This way, the Wells Fargo robo-advisor lives to its promise to simplify investing while preserving the personal and human touch.
While intuitively (pun intended) the investment portfolios make sense, it is impossible to judge their performance without data. It is a weakness since the only thing to go on when deciding whether to invest or not is trust in Wells Fargo and the belief that the technology is sound. When it comes to investing, I am a firm believer in data and control, not blind trust.
My enthusiasm for Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor program diminished even further when faced with the clumsy sign in and onboarding, and the high investment minimum.
My verdict on the Intuitive Investor is that it certainly automates investing and makes it easy. Whether this is attractive to you depends on whether your desire for hands-off investing overshadows the lack of performance data.
Direct access: Wells Fargo Intuitive Investors website.
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor vs SoFi Invest
Ultimately, deciding whether to invest with Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor or not, depends on the opportunities it offers and how these opportunities compare with those provided by other providers.
Here is an ‘at a glance’ comparison between the Intuitive Investor program and SoFi Invest.
|Features||Wells Fargo||SoFi Invest|
|Overview||Hybrid investment manager with live and digital investing management.||Free automated investment management robo-advisor platform with financial advisors.|
|Minimum Investment Amount||$5,000||$1|
|Free Services||N/A||Free account management and access to financial professionals.|
|Fee Structure||0.35% AUM||No account management fees.|
|Top Features||Digital investment management with live advisors. Access to Wells Fargo branches and products. Passive and active investment strategies.||Digital investment management with live advisors. Access to SoFi member benefits and career planning. Cash management and lending.|
|Investment Funds||Low fee exchange traded funds from diverse asset classes. Includes smart beta and passive index funds.||Diversified low-fee exchange traded index funds-ETFs. |
Stock bit - fractional shares of stock available through SoFi Active Investing.
|Accounts Available||Individual, joint, and custodial brokerage. Roth, Traditional and SEP IRA, or Inherited IRA.||Individual and joint taxable accounts. Roth, traditional, and SEP IRAs.|
|Contact & Investing Advice||24/7 telephone service for general inquiries. Financial advisors available Monday - Saturday. Branch access.||Phone support M-F. Email support 7 days per week. Financial advisor access for all clients.|
|Promotions||N/A||Free investment management at SoFI Automated Investing|
The management fee of Intuitive Investor is higher than the fee-free SoFi Invest. Although, Wells Fargo offers branch access and 24/7 customer service.
Additionally, the minimum amount is a significant difference between these two robo-advisor platforms. Hence, the choice may depend on your ability to invest $5,000 and how important branch access is to you.
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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.