A month or so ago, while on Facebook a sponsored ad came up on my news feed for Acorns, an investment app that allows you to open an account via your smartphone and in essence, invests your spare change.I was curious so clicked on it and was introduced to a whole new world of robo investing applications that I apparently had missed hearing about when they were first introduced.
For many millennials like myself, investing can seem daunting, and most don’t have the initial large deposits that are required with traditional investment companies in order to use the services of a financial advisor. Our money is going to other things like weddings, starting a family, paying off student loans, mortgages, and hopefully also contributing to a retirement account.
That is why I was intrigued with Acorns, which links to your bank account and invests your spare change from purchases you make every day (essentially, rounding up every purchase to the nearest dollar). There is no minimum deposit and the investment fees are a $1/month for accounts under $5,000 and .25% for accounts over $5,000. However, students and anyone under 24 can invest for free on accounts of any size.
I then came across another investment app called Betterment. Betterment allows you to set up retirement accounts while Acorns does not. Betterment chooses your portfolio for you automatically based on one of the 5 general investment goals you select. Similar to Acorns, you need no initial minimum deposit. The fees are $3 a month, or .35% with a minimum auto deposit of $100 a month. The fees drop to .25% once you exceed $10,000.
Wealthfront is another investment app I looked into that also supports retirement accounts, but does require a minimum account balance of $500. However, there are no annual fees for accounts up to $10,000.
There are many other robo investment companies out there, some with apps, some available via website only. They all utilize similar investment theories for their automated investment guidance based on what you select as your goal or risk profile, which may or may not earn you more than a traditional financial advisor or yourself if you have the skills and time to manage your own investments. Investorjunkie.com provides some great reviews on many of the ones available if you want to give robo investing a try.