New technologies have brought investing into the mainstream over the last decade. Mobile apps like Robinhood and Freetrade offering consumers low or zero-cost opportunities to invest in individual stocks and shares and actively manage their own portfolio. And for those looking to outsource the decision on where to put their money, so-called “robo advisors” have become popular due to their quick setup and low fees.
Robo advisors collect a variety of information about a new investor’s financial goals, investment horizon, income, assets, and risk tolerance through onboarding questionnaires. This information is used to create a detailed personalised profile of the consumer, which the “bot” then uses to determine where to invest the money – whether that is in traditional blue chip stocks, lower risk government bonds, or the volatile cryptocurrency market.
Consumers would traditionally need to use expensive financial advisors and investment managers to help them chose such investments, but these robo advisors offer a more efficient automated service with significantly lower upfront and monthly fees to manage their investment portfolio.
Each robo advisor platform has its own nuances and fee structures that should be thoroughly examined before signing up, but the following five services are regularly mentioned in lists of the best robo advisors in the UK.
Vanguard Digital Advisor
Vanguard Digital Advisor offers some of the lowest fees of any robo advisor platform. The automated digital service charges an annual net advisory fee of approximately 0.15% across your enrolled accounts for a typical investment portfolio, although your actual net fee will vary depending on the specific holdings in each enrolled account. The fees are low, but the company has a minimum requirement of $3,000 (£2,200) to enrol.
eToro is perhaps one of the widely marketed financial services, with the company running many large-scale advertising campaigns across the web in recent years. The eToro platform is primarily known as an online brokerage, but consumers can use the platforms “CopyPortfolio” tools to copy the portfolios of other traders using the platform. This does automate investment decisions, but it is not a traditional robo advisor as eToro does not build a detailed profile of its users and advise them based on their circumstances. Instead, it is up to the consumer which traders’ portfolios they copy but they do have the option to copy the portfolios of traditional investment houses and other robo advisors.
Moneyfarm is unique amongst the robo advisors as it focuses exclusively focuses on exchange traded funds (ETFs). Once consumers have signed up with the service and completed the onboarding questionnaire, Moneyfarm recommends one of seven globally diversified portfolios of ETFs depending on their circumstances and risk tolerance. The fees charged vary depending on the value of the investment, with those investing over £100,000 paying fees as low as 0.35%.
Wealthify offers one of the easiest entries to the robo advisor market, with everything handled through the company’s well designed mobile apps and the ability to open an account with as little as £1. However, with this ease of use comes slightly higher fees, with the platform charging a management fee that covers everything they do between 0.4% and 0.7%.
Nutmeg, which was recently acquired by US investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co, is another app-based robo advisor platform that currently manages assets worth around £3.5bn for its 140,000 retail customers. Like Wealthify, it is straightforward to setup and use, with a minimum investment of £100 and slightly higher fees depending on how much you invest.