If you are looking for a robo-advisor to handle your investments, you may have come across the automated investing platforms offered by Wealthfront and Vanguard. These two firms offer similar fee structures and services, so it can be difficult to choose between them. Weâ€™ve created a side-by-side comparison so you can make an informed decision about which companyâ€™s robo-advisor service is best for you.
For beginner investors who donâ€™t have a lot of assets just yet, Wealthfront is a great way to get started. By contrast, Vanguard Personal Advisory Services is designed for more established investors who want more personalized attention. Continue reading to learn about these two leading robo-advisors and the key differences between them.
Vanguard is one of the biggest investment companies in the industry, and has been around for decades. Itâ€™s well-known for its investment options, past performance and hybrid approach to investing, where it combines traditional robo-advisors with human advisor services.
Unlike Vanguard, Wealthfront is solely a robo-advisor. Itâ€™s geared towards young professionals who are just starting to invest their money and may not have the time or knowledge to manage their accounts themselves.
When youâ€™re considering Wealthfront versus Vanguard, itâ€™s important to understand each companyâ€™s fees, as they can affect your profits. Wealthfront charges a 0.25% annual advisory fee on investments. Wealthfront also has an expense ratio ranging from 0.07% to 0.16% on ETFs. Wealthfront has a very low account minimum â€“ you can start investing with as little as $500.
With Vanguard, youâ€™ll pay a slightly higher annual advisory fee. Vanguard charges 0.30% for accounts with assets below $5 million; if your account balance is over that, you may qualify for a lower rate. However, some accounts do have additional service fees. For example, brokerage and mutual-fund-only accounts will incur a $20 annual fee.
In terms of expense ratios for Mutual funds and ETFs, Vanguardâ€™s are lower than Wealthfrontâ€™s. Vanguardâ€™s average expense ratio is 0.10%. According to the company, that is 83% less than the industry average.
While Vanguard can be appealing to seasoned investors, there is a catch. If you decide to invest your money with Vanguard, youâ€™ll need to have a substantial amount of money. To get started, youâ€™ll need to have at least $50,000 in managed assets. Individual investment accounts, IRAs, trust accounts and Vanguard Variable Annuity accounts count towards the minimum; 401(k) accounts, 529 accounts, and custodial accounts like UGMA/UGTA do not.
Wealthfrontâ€™s investments are based on PassivePlus, its suite of investment strategies put into place with its software. It automatically adjusts your investments based on your goals and risk tolerance.
Vanguard offers a hybrid approach, combining robo-advisors with human advisors. The Vanguard advisor will work with you â€“ over the phone, email or chat â€“ to create a personalized financial plan and will continually offer coaching and portfolio management services.
Both companies offer a range of investment options, including stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. However, the companies differ in their investment account types. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services canâ€™t manage 401(k) and 403(b) accounts, 529 accounts, or UGMA/UTMA custodial accounts. By contrast, Wealthfront allows you to set aside money to pay for college in 529 Plan, or to save for retirement with 401(k) plans.
Wealthfront and Vanguard both offer a wide range of investment options and account types. When looking at Wealthfront versus Vanguard, itâ€™s important to consider your comfort with investing and your goals.
If youâ€™re a hands-off investor or are new to investing, Wealthfront is likely the best choice for you. It is a complete robo-advisor, meaning there is no human interaction and itâ€™s almost entirely automated â€“ you arenâ€™t able to choose individual stocks or ETFs, but you can invest your money and be confident that it will be allocated across a diverse portfolio.
If you want more personalized attention, and have more assets to manage, then Vanguard is the better choice. You can contact human advisors for guidance, and get more control over what investments you choose.
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