Winner: Fidelity Go
Fidelity Go, followed by Vanguard, are the Best Robos from an Incumbent Financial Institution. While our analysis indicates that independent robo advice providers offer the most robust online platforms, Fidelity and Vanguard leverage their institutional might to offer a high-quality service based on proprietary funds for those who would rather entrust their money to larger, more established institutions.
Fidelity Go stands out for one of the more robust digital planning experiences from an incumbent financial institution. With consistent and strong investment performance and its low annual fee, it is our top pick among established financial institutions. The digital service has a $0 minimum and a 0.35% all-in annual fee. If enrolled in their Personalized Planning and Advice service with a 0.50% all-in management fee and a $25,000 minimum, account holders can work with a live advisor to address their investment and planning needs that are not covered by Fidelity Go’s digital tools. Fidelity invests customers from both tiers into its proprietary FLEX funds, but those funds have a 0% expense ratio. Fidelity invests 100% of customer’s fixed income holdings in municipal bonds, which helps investors come tax season. For its strong performance, transparent, all-in fee structure, and strong digital planning tools compared to other incumbents, Fidelity Go is the Best Robo from an Incumbent Financial Institution.
Even though Vanguard offers lower-tech digital planning tools, they make up for it by focusing their offering around access to live advisors to all their robo clients. At $50,000, the minimum is much higher than Fidelity’s, but the fee remains at 0.30% until the account value rises about $5M. For those with more than $500K in assets, Vanguard even offers dedicated advisors to assist in financial planning. Like Fidelity, Vanguard invests 100% of a customer’s fixed income holdings in municipal bonds. Despite the shortcomings of their web offering, unlimited access to live advisors for 0.30% annually makes Vanguard the runner-up Best Robo from an Incumbent Financial Institution.
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.