The Robo Ranking™: Best Overall Robo

Winner: Fidelity Go
Runner-Up: Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
Honorable Mention: SigFig

Fidelity Go continues to perform well in our Robo Ranking™, earning the title of Best Overall Robo for the second consecutive ranking.  With a portfolio constructed using proprietary Fidelity Flex mutual funds, our Fidelity Go account has steadily outperformed in terms of its performance above the Normalized Benchmark and Sharpe ratio.  Portfolio performance, low costs, and a strong digital planning platform have propelled them to our top spot. While the 0.35% management fee for their digital-only service is slightly higher than some of their competitors, the underlying Fidelity Flex mutual funds carry 0.00% expense ratios, making the all-in cost at Fidelity in line with low-cost alternatives.  For investors looking for account-specific advice and financial planning, Fidelity offers a hybrid robo solution, combining their Fidelity Go tools with live advisors in their service called Personalized Planning and Advice. This service is priced at 0.50%, and, similar to their base Fidelity Go offering, the 0.50% fee for Personalized Planning and Advice is an all-in cost.  Users comfortable working exclusively with online financial planning tools will benefit from the fact that Fidelity can independently model different goals and help users determine variables, such as retirement spending and college tuition costs. Although they lack some features like automated tax-loss harvesting, Fidelity has an all-around quality platform, low all-in costs, and a strong performing portfolio.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services (PAS) is the runner-up for Best Overall Robo in this edition of The Robo Ranking™.  Strong performance, low fees, and an approach centered around live advisors continue to make Vanguard PAS a compelling choice for investors.  While Vanguard lacks the high-tech, streamlined online experience of some of its digital advice competitors, their human-powered advice teams can provide quality, customized service at a considerably low price.  Custom financial plans can incorporate complex financial situations, multiple retirement income streams, and the incorporation of accounts held outside of Vanguard. Although minimums are higher, with a minimum investment of $50,000, costs are relatively low given the value provided.  With a management fee of 0.30%, Vanguard undercuts most competitors when comparing service models that provide access to live advisors. Vanguard’s simple portfolio, holding just five ETFs in our account, is an example of their low-cost indexing approach, which has delivered consistent performance and helped them perform well in this ranking.  Vanguard is a great choice for those looking for an advisor-centric experience while keeping costs to a minimum.

SigFig was awarded honorable mention for Best Overall Robo in this version of The Robo Ranking™.  SigFig stands out as one of the lowest cost providers, especially when considering they provide live advice to any client with over $10,000 in managed assets.  To further entice new clients, the first $10,000 in assets is currently managed at no cost, making them a great entry point to professionally managed money for individuals unable to meet traditional advisor minimums.  Their retirement planner strikes a balance between being simple to use while also offering more advanced modeling options for those who want to adjust underlying assumptions. While the retirement planner is a quality tool, they do not currently offer online planning tools specific to other goals, such as saving for a child’s education.  Another standout feature available to SigFig clients is the ability to aggregate outside accounts and receive some automated advice if potential problem areas are identified. SigFig is a good all-around platform backed by a portfolio that has consistently performed near the top of the field over the previous two-year period.

The Robo Ranking™ is the only comprehensive ranking of robo advisors that includes not only the features and services, but also portfolio performance, sourced from real accounts tracked by Backend Benchmarking.  The Robo Ranking™ goes well beyond performance and grades the robos across more than 45 specific metrics. We scored each robo on various high-level categories, such as features, financial planning, customer experience, access to live advisors, transparency and conflicts of interest, size and tenure, account minimums, costs, and performance.  Each metric where we grade the robos is specific and unambiguous. See the full scoring rubric here.