Wealthfront’s Self-Driving Money: Review

Posted on April 23, 2021

The California-based robo advisor Wealthfront has been rolling out various components of its grand vision called “Self-Driving Money”. This is a set of features that together creates a seamless flow from paycheck to long-term investing while taking care of everything in between.

The firm’s announcement on April 20th, 2021 included the statement: “Starting today, clients no longer need to move money between multiple institutions and coordinate across clunky interfaces…Wealthfront can automate everything from end to end, ensuring every dollar earned grows.” The idea is clear. Instead of dealing with transferring money across multiple institutions and making multiple decisions each month, Wealthfront will use automation to handle that for its clients. 

New Features

Currently, those who direct deposit into Wealthfront Cash Account can enjoy all of the Self-Driving Money features. Starting from the paycheck’s deposit, Wealthfront will monitor cash flows to assist in paying bills monitoring and everyday expenses. Next, based on pre-set settings, Wealthfront allocates capital towards various short-term goals. In the latest rollout, clients can break down these short-term goals into specific buckets that include down payment or an emergency fund. From there, the last stop is getting money quickly into the client’s long-term investments.

Autopilot

Thanks to Autopilot, a feature rolled out last fall, funds automatically flow from the investor’s savings account into the investor’s long-term investment account based on a client’s pre-designated maximum balance for their savings account. Once a user has hit their savings maximum by over $100, it will schedule a transfer. The user has a 24-hour window to cancel. Instead of having idle savings earning a near-zero return, Autopilot will direct funds for the user, to optimize each dollar.

How it can Help You 

Wealthfront is the only robo advisor that has a feature like Autopilot. The optimization benefits can make a big difference especially for those who do not monitor their excess savings diligently. The barrier of the decision fatigue each month and moving money from a banking institution into a brokerage account can seem prohibitive. Instead, Wealthfront seeks to eliminate that gap. The old adage of “it’s not about timing the market but time in the market that matters” is fully on display with this feature. We look forward to seeing what Wealthfront has in store next. 

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