Online investment advisers, also known as “robo-advisors” or “online advisers”, use technology to lower costs and create processes, such as opening an account, that require minimum or no direct human contact. You’ll likely be offered standardized model portfolios containing lower-cost investments, such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs). As such, online advisers charge lower fees because of their lower operating costs.
Traditional advisers provide more personalized services. A human adviser will be your point of contact and is responsible for providing services, managing your portfolio, and answering your questions. You may also be offered more investment choices and strategies. While traditional advisers may charge higher fees compared to an online adviser, you may find these services of value if, for example, you have complex financial needs or large financial assets. You may also prefer dealing with one dedicated individual who you can build a professional relationship with.
|Online investment adviser|
|Minimum balance||None to low||High|
|Investment approach||Model portfolios||Tailored asset mix|
|Investment products||Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)|
|Wide range (including ETFs and mutual funds)|
|Point of contact||Automated and self-serve solutions.|
A team of professionals managing multiple accounts.
|A dedicated professional to manage your portfolio and answer your questions.|
|Additional products and services||Limited||Varies; wide range|