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Review of 2016 Investment Management Platforms and Robo-Advisor Apps

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Review of 2016 Investment Management Platforms and Robo-Advisor Apps

No matter how successful we become in life, there is always still room for improvement. This applies not only to your investment portfolio and retirement accounts, but also to your monthly budgeting efforts. Fortunately today Robo-Advisors apps are out there which will help you to improve and to more effectively track your existing budget, to keep track of your daily expenses as you are out and about the town, and to better save and invest your money that you have worked so hard to acquire. These tools are known as personal financial management apps.

What are Personal Financial Management Platforms and Robo-Advisors Apps?

Personal financial management platforms are Robo-Advisors apps that aspire to be many things to many different types of people all at once. The theory is that they are supposed to run the gamut of every aspect of your personal finances, from budgeting, to investments, to retirement advice, to helping you to save more. Unfortunately, none of them score 100% in covering every single category, and few of them cover both of the major pillars of investments and budgeting well at the same time.  In fact, the majority of these Robo-Advisors apps lean heavily towards either budgeting or investment management. The few such Robo-Advisors apps that try to perform both of these heroic tasks at once are the exceptions and not really the norms.

There is also a cost factor for you to consider with many, though not all, of these platforms and Robo-Advisors apps. This is not to say that there is any neat one size fits all comparison of how much and in what way they charge you, as several different models currently exist for how they make their money when you use their platforms. Some of them like Mint and Quicken for Windows 2016 charge a one-time software licensing fee that you pay upfront for the lifetime of that version of the program.

Others that are more heavily geared towards managing your money charge a tiny percentage of your total portfolio that you keep with them as management fees. Future Advisor and Betterment are good examples of this Robo-Advisors model of financial management platforms.

Still others offer a partially free service with an upgraded Robo-Advisors money management version and service that they hope you will avail yourself of in time, as with Personal Capital and Sig Fig Investment Optimizer. A few of them charge a by the month fee for upgraded versions of their free service, as does New Zealand’s PocketSmith.

Last of all are the personal financial management platforms that offer totally free or nearly totally free apps to you their customers based on a true “freemium” model. They make their money through another for-pay service or with on-site advertising, as with Yodlee Money Center.

Comparison of the Top 12 Robo-Advisors Apps

 Personal Capital Personal CapitalMoneyDance MoneyDancePower Wallet Power WalletSigFig Investment Optimizer SigFig Investment OptimizerWealthfront WealthfrontiBank 5 iBank 5Quicken 2015 Quicken 2015Future Advisor Future AdvisorPocketSmith PocketSmithMint MintYodlee Money Center Yodlee Money CenterBetterment Betterment
Our Rating5stars4stars4stars4stars3.5stars3.5stars3.5stars3.5stars3.5stars3stars3stars3stars
Synchronizing Automationgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkredxgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkredx
Budgetinggreencheckmark
greencheckmarkgreencheckmarkredxredxgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkredxgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkredx
ReportinggreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkSomeredxgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkredxgreencheckmarkLimitedgreencheckmarkredx
CostFree for Platform; .89% Fee for Money ManagedFree for first 100 transactions, one time $49.99 cost thereafterFreeFirst $10,000 Managed Free; .25% thereafter for Money Managed.25% after first $10,000 Money Managed Free$59.99 One Time License FeeStarter $40,
Deluxe $75, Premier $105
Free to Use Platform, .50% Fee for Money ManagedFree version, Premium version for $9.95/month, Ultimate version for $19.95/monthFreeFree for Desktop Platform; one time $3.99 Fee for Mobile Apps.15%-.35% for Money Managed
InvestinggreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkLimited to OverviewgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkLimited to OverviewPremier EditionYes, Direct ManagementLimited to Net WorthLimited and weakredxgreencheckmark
International Supportredxgreencheckmarkredxredxredxgreencheckmarkredxredxredxredxredxredx
Retirement Account SupportgreencheckmarkredxLimited to OverviewredxgreencheckmarkLimited to OverviewDeluxe EditionYes, Direct ManagementredxLimitedredxgreencheckmark
Managementgreencheckmarkredxredxgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkredxredxgreencheckmarkredxredxredxgreencheckmark
Portfolio Analysisgreencheckmarkredxredxgreencheckmarkredxredxredxgreencheckmarkgreencheckmarkredxredxgreencheckmark
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Who are These Robo-Advisors Platforms and Apps For?

These platforms and Robo-Advisors apps actually are for most every person who has any money with which to work. If you are an individual who would like to retire one day, then you need tools to help you save, invest, and manage your retirement savings wisely. Those of you who are trying to live within your budget and pay your bills on time need an app that can allow you to set up, maintain, and monitor a budget and input expenses in real time, if at all possible. You could also do with a bill pay service, which fortunately several of these services include at no charge or no extra charge.

If you are a person trying to come up with money for buying a house or other big ticket item, or to save for college education for your children, then you are a good candidate for these platforms and Robo-Advisors apps to help you to not only live within your means, but to save and invest your surplus funds, and to monitor the progress toward your goals.

Lastly, if you are the fortunate and pre-planning type of person who has a large and lucrative investment portfolio, then you need these apps that focus more heavily on analyzing, advising, and possibly even actively managing your investments so that you can increase your returns, reduce the actual taxes that you pay, decrease your portfolio expenses and fees, and build up your portfolio in a safe and smart manner that is commiserate with your actual risk tolerance.

In other words, if you have any money in your pocket, or bank account, to spend, save, or invest, then these personal financial management platforms and Robo-Advisors apps are made especially for you and with you in mind.

What to Look For in These Robo-Advisors Platforms and Apps

The real question that you need to ask is, “what should I look for in these types of platforms and Robo-Advisors apps?” This depends on which of the above mentioned types of people that you are, or where you are in you financial goals. In general, you should be looking for these types of features and tools with your ideal personal financial management platform or app:

  • Retirement savings, investing tools, and support – ideally this would be more than just setting up some goals, but would also include analysis and advice minimally
  • Budgeting tools – to set up, maintain, and track or monitor what you have both coming in and going out every month
  • Reporting and graphic analysis features – Every decent personal financial management app should provide some good reports and reporting features
  • Portfolio analysis – weighing your current investments against a well-diversified basket of investments like those found in one of the major stock market or bond market indexes
  • Investment advice – should recommend a well balance portfolio option based on analyzing and determining your true risk profile and appetite
  • Automation and synchronization – should auto sync up to your bank, credit card, loan, and other financial accounts to download your financial data and transactions in to the platform or app
  • Money management –  should offer you an optional upgrade service to invest your money for you for a fair and reasonable price
  • Cost – you should feel comfortable with and be clear on what exactly you will pay for these various services

In Conclusion

The final choice that you have to make regarding which personal financial management app to use comes down to your personal needs. As we noted earlier, you can not really have the best budgeting and the best investment services concepts in one platform, as nice as that might be. If you are looking for really sound investing advice, management, reporting, and retirement analysis and services, we might recommend Personal Capital as the best personal financial management app on the investing and retirement side. If instead you are seeking a platform that specializes in budgeting, reports on spending, and downloading of your financial transactions and bank account information in support of these goals, then Mint is a better option for you. While all of these programs that are covered below have strengths and weaknesses and are good at something, they are not all the best choice for you personally.

David Crowder

About David Crowder

W.D. Crowder is an American published author. His background and areas of expertise include history, economics, expatriate living, international relations, investments and personal finance. A widely read and top of his class graduate of Stetson University, he obtained his bachelor of arts degree in History with minors in Latin American Studies and International Relations and a special emphasis in Economics. He was President of his Phi Alpha Theta (National History Honors Fraternity) Stetson University chapter and a Phi Beta Kappa (National Honors Fraternity) member.
  • Duncan

    That a great opportunities for everyone who like to live a better life n to young generation who re still working when retired is more safely than sorry timeousely n wanna be part of the billionaires