Betterment adds human advisor element to online investment offering

Feb 2nd, 2017 | By | Category: ETF and Index News

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Online wealth manager Betterment has added a new service to its digital investment platform, expanding the company’s offering beyond a single automated product to a multi-plan advice offering that includes access to a team of human Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) and licensed financial experts.

Betterment adds CFP Professional access to digital investment offering

Betterment has launched ‘Plus’ and ‘Premium’ plan offerings which grant investors access to the firm’s team of CFPs and licensed financial experts.

Betterment offers a globally diversified portfolio of index-tracking exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with personalized advice in a goal-based investing framework. Customers can open and customize regular investment accounts, traditional/SEP/Roth IRAs, trust accounts, and accounts for retirement income.

The new offering will be made available, if desired, to Betterment’s existing customer base of more than 210,000 customers, representing over $7bn in assets under management.

The team of CFPs and licensed financial experts will help customers monitor their accounts, answer their financial questions, and give them financial advice.

Investors may now choose between Betterment’s three plan offerings – Betterment Digital, Betterment Plus and Betterment Premium – depending on their specific needs. According to Betterment, the new plans give customers the best of both worlds— smarter technology and access to financial experts.

Alex Benke, Vice President of Financial Advice and Investing at Betterment, commented: “As a traditional financial planner, you can only serve a few hundred clients at most. Through the last five years at Betterment, I’ve learned that while most Americans really need financial advice, not everyone wants it in the same way. Some never want to talk to a person, some need help from time to time, and others need careful, ongoing guidance. About a year ago, we set out to broaden and deepen our human-delivered advice offering, while making it more accessible. Our vision is to be your one-stop-shop for financial advice, available in whatever form or frequency you require, and always in your best interest, as a fiduciary.”

With Betterment Digital, customers gain access to the firm’s digital product which includes high-grade technology, tax-efficient algorithms and digital advice. The plan comes with a flat fee charge of 0.25%.

Betterment Plus is designed for customers who wish to receive occasional access to the firm’s team of experts. Investors under this plan will receive an annual planning call from a team of CFP professionals and licensed financial experts who also monitor their accounts throughout the year. Fees are 0.40% and the minimum required investment is $100k.

The firm’s most-inclusive offering, Betterment Premium, gives customers unlimited access to a team of CFP professionals and licensed financial experts who monitor their accounts and give them advice and financial planning throughout the year. The plan costs 0.50% in flat fees and requires a minimum $250k investment.

For all three plans, Betterment will waive its management fee on any assets over $2m.

Furthermore, customers who would like a full-time, dedicated independent financial advisor can be referred to a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) who uses the Betterment for Advisors platform to manage its clients investments through its recently announced Advisor Network.

“We’re committed to empowering customers to do what’s best for their money, so they can live better,” said Jon Stein, Founder and CEO of Betterment. “At Betterment, we promise to always act in the best interests of our customers. From the beginning, we’ve built what our customers have asked us to prioritize, and what would have the biggest impact for them. Now, with our Plus and Premium plans, we can give customers the best of both worlds: our smarter technology and access to licensed financial experts.”

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