FutureAdvisor was first launched in 2010 and is driven by a team of software engineers, data scientists, and licensed financial professionals. Notably, it is also backed up with investment from the same team who backed Google. To date, FutureAdvisor manages more than $900 million in assets. For clients who choose to use their Premium paid service, accounts are held with two well-known and highly trusted brokers, TD Ameritrade and Fidelity. The major drawback to this service comes with the fees that are charged. In addition to the FutureAdvisor fees, both Fidelity and TD Ameritrade may also add on their individual transactional fees.
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The first thing to mention about FutureAdvisor is that if you want to try out the service, you can do so completely free of charge. It isn’t overly feature-rich, but it does come with some convenient integrations that allow you to manage accounts which are held with TD Ameritrade and Fidelity centrally from within its platform. It also offers a range of basic features which are free to use or low cost, comparatively speaking, such as the 401(k) management and its 529 college savings plan. That said, other providers in this space such as Wealthfront and Betterment offer more features than FutureAdvisor. Moreover, the fees with FutureAdvisor are somewhat higher than its robo-advisor competitors.
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As an online investment advisory service, FutureAdvisor will manage your investments automatically. It uses something called Modern Portfolio Theory that is otherwise referred to as MPT. The service will help you to create and retain a portfolio that optimizes the return on investment based on the levels of risk you indicate that you are comfortable with in your profile when you sign up. You can also change these preferences at any point in time, and it is fairly easy to do this on the FutureAdvisor site.
Overall, it is a solid competitor against other similar services that are provided to you by companies such as Wealthfront, Personal Capital, and Betterment. It depends entirely on the individual services you are looking for as to whether it competes well against others in the marketplace.
|Management Fee||0.50% for Premium (several services are free to use)|
|Promotion||Use their Retirement Advice services for free|
Mint users get 6 months free premium service
|Supported Account Types||Taxable Accounts, 401k Plans, IRA Accounts, Roth IRA Accounts, Trust Accounts, 529 Plan Accounts|
|Tax Loss Harvesting?||Yes, for paid Premium accounts|
How Does FutureAdvisor Work?
The FutureAdvisor paid Premium service delivers management of IRAs and taxable investment accounts. This includes traditional, rollover, Roth and SEP IRAs. Essentially, you give the service permission to trade within your accounts (TD Ameritrade or Fidelity) on your behalf. As mentioned in the introduction, this robo-advisor firm does offer some of its services for free. One of these free-to-use services is an in-depth retirement analysis. This feature enables its users to link accounts and receive specific recommendations that are tailored to the respective portfolios along with the individual goals of the client that are set out when you sign-up and create a profile.
Outside of this, the paid Premium service charges a management fee of 0.50%, which is a little higher than some other automated investing services. FutureAdvisor also requires a minimum balance of $10,000. It offers tax-loss harvesting, flexible access to a team of licensed Financial Advisors and investment management with the added bonus of automated rebalancing.
Once you sign-up for the FutureAdvisor service, you are able to easily link together any other investment accounts, or you can also report any of your other holdings manually. The robo-advisor service will then review everything and analyze this through the dashboard. Their recommendations are then offered, which are completely tailored to your individual goals and your unique portfolio.
Once they have crunched the numbers, the retirement plan recommendation will be broken down into nine stages. This will then be periodically updated, and advice will be given as to whether there is a better option or room for improvement. The good element of this service is that FutureAdvisor will explain its rationale and show you the ‘why’ behind their recommendations. This extra bit of detail is something that investors quite like, along with the fact the updates are available in real-time. This is a real plus to their services and an area that some of their competitors fall short in.
Who Is FutureAdvisor Suitable For?
Anything that is free is surely worth a go. When you consider the level of detail that FutureAdvisor goes into here, it’s an impressive offering that you pay nothing for at all. Based on this, it is worth a look for sure. You can get a really good insight into the best way to manage your portfolio using their in-depth account analysis, and the rebalancing reminders are pretty useful too. Even if you don’t sign up for their Premium service or if you are currently with another broker and don’t want to switch over, you can use their free tools to then make decisions with your own broker.
- FutureAdvisor is ideal for clients who already have accounts with TD Ameritrade and Fidelity. If you want to use a robo-advisor service without the hassle of moving funds out of Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, it is a good choice.
- Those who have at least $10,000 to invest or transfer
- Investors that prefer a DIY approach
- Those who would like access to licensed financial advisors
Pros and Cons of FutureAdvisor
- Free Services. The portfolio analysis is a great freebie and something which can be used whether or not you intend to use their paid service. This free service will also provide you with an system alert when it is rebalancing time. DIY investors who might want to get a second opinion will find the tailored recommendations and advice extremely useful. This advice can be used with any account, regardless of where it is being held. The trading recommendations that are provided completely free of charge are founded upon MPT, which is the same methodology that is widely used by many other robo-advisor services. So essentially, you can take what they are recommending and initiate that with any other broker that you might be using.
- Tax Loss Harvesting. If you are a premium customer, then tax-loss harvesting is included in your list of benefits as well. Understandably, this is not available with the free version.
- Linking Accounts. FutureAdvisor makes it really easy to link up with eligible broker accounts. Currently, this only applies to TD Ameritrade and Fidelity. This nifty feature allows them to access your account and perform trades on your behalf. It’s a real plus for those who prefer to have everything taken care of for them with minimal input required.
- Flexibility. Unlike some other robo-advisor services such as Wealthfront or Betterment, FutureAdvisor will give you advice based on your existing portfolio, without the need for you to first transfer the assets across to them. This is a significant feature and one which many other firms do not currently offer.
- Review Your Trades Prior to Adjustments. Another great feature of the FutureAdvisor robo-advisor service is that it will let you fully review your existing investments before it makes the recommendations for adjustments. This means that any implications such as taxes will be fully considered before you sell what you have.
- Fidelity and TD Ameritrade Customers. If you already hold accounts with either of these brokers, then you are in a real win-win situation. FutureAdvisor will not request you to move these accounts. All you need to do is to provide FutureAdvisor with permission to manage the assets for you, and they will then be able to trade on your behalf. It provides a risk-free way to use robo-advisor services to your advantage, and there is no hassle with transferring anything over to them from either of these companies.
- Licensed Financial Advisors. As a customer of the FutureAdvisor Premium service, you get access to a team of advisors that you can access in a range of methods that suit you. Talk to them on the phone, via live chat or send them an email. It is even possible to pre-arrange an appointment time with a licensed Financial Advisor. Each and every trade that occurs within an account is backed-up by a human advisor. This means you get the complex and meticulous methodologies of the robo-advisor service as well as the safety net of a real person who monitors all that occurs within your accounts as well. The best of both worlds and for some, this completely justifies the slightly higher than average management fees that are charged by the FutureAdvisor Premium service.
- Clean and Easy Viewing. The interface offered by FutureAdvisor is clean and straightforward to navigate around. Especially when compared to the likes of Wealthfront. Users report it takes no time at all to find their way around the system.
- 529 Account Management. This is another plus point of the FutureAdvisor service. Offering management of your 529 college savings plan is another good element to their offering and not something many of the other robo-advisor services currently offer.
- The Management Fees. When compared side-by-side with other robo-advisors that are operating within the same space, the Premium plan offered by FutureAdvisor comes with an annual management fee of 0.50%. Not to mention, this is on top of the investment expenses that may be charged by Fidelity and TD Ameritrade. They have noted that, where possible, they prioritize the use of funds that are commission-free.
- The Account Minimum. If you want to use the Premium service at FutureAdvisor, you need to have a minimum of $10,000. Compared to others who offer this service, this is a relatively high amount. Although to be fair, I must note that there are a lot of others out there who have a higher account minimum such as Vanguard Personal Advisor and Personal Capital ($50,000 and $100,000, respectively).
- Upper Age Limits. The FutureAdvisor service will help you up to the point of retirement, but not after. New premium clients are not accepted over the age of 68 years. The company states that this is because their allocations focus on return on investment as opposed to generating income.
- Other Accounts. If you hold accounts outside of TD Ameritrade or Fidelity, then you’ll be a little inconvenienced here. This is because their focus has been on making it easy for clients of these two particular brokers to use the service. FutureAdvisor will help you move any accounts or assets you might have, though, if needed.
The range of free services offered by FutureAdvisor is plentiful, and we must applaud them for this. The management of the 529 college plan along with the in-depth analysis and portfolio recommendations make this a great service to use, irrespective of whether you choose to move your assets to them under their Premium service.
FutureAdvisor is particularly beneficial for current customers of Fidelity or TD Ameritrade due to the fact there is a hassle-free approach to syncing accounts, allowing you to benefit from their robo-advisor service almost instantaneously.
The higher than average account minimum of $10,000 is a drawback to the service, as is its higher management fee, which comes in higher than others in this space.
In summary, there are a lot of positives to the service, and the FutureAdvisor website and platform is very straightforward and simple to use. If you want to get involved with a robo-advisor but are perhaps a little tentative about handing everything over to a computer driven process, this makes for a good option due to the human involvement of licensed Financial Advisors. I also feel it is a real thumbs-up for the customer support element of the FutureAdvisor business as they make it easy to speak with their team of skilled Financial Advisors either by phone, by email or by live chat. I also love the fact you can arrange a pre-booked appointment to talk with them if needed.
Overall, some really good pluses, but the minimum investment requirement and higher annual management fee can be a bit of a sticking point depending on your particular situation.
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