Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor review 2023
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Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor: Best for
- Beginning investors
- Tax strategy
- Existing Wells Fargo customers
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor delivers on what most investors expect from a robo-advisor. Customers will get the standard portfolio management benefits such as diversified portfolio options with low fund fees as well as automatic rebalancing. They’ll also get tax-loss harvesting if they choose to opt-in to the service at no additional cost.
One of the main differentiators between Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor and robo-advisor offerings from other major banks is that you’ll be able to speak with a financial advisor five days a week, which either isn’t offered by other robos or is only available at a premium tier of service. These advisors can help answer specific questions you have about Wells Fargo’s offering or investing in general, which may hold particular appeal for newer investors. The account minimum was also recently lowered from $5,000 to $500.
The benefits do come with an above-average cost, with a management fee that runs at 0.35 percent annually. However, the fee can be reduced to either 0.30 percent or 0.25 percent depending on the type of Wells Fargo checking account you have with the bank. You’ll just need to link your account with the Intuitive Investor account to receive the discount. You might also encounter higher fees if you want to terminate an IRA or transfer your account somewhere else.
If you’re looking to have the option of speaking with a professional at a lower cost, you might consider SoFi Automated Investing. If costs are a main concern, you might check out Fidelity Go where small accounts won’t pay a management fee and you won’t find any miscellaneous account fees.
Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor: In the details
Pros: Where Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor stands out
Access to financial advisors
One of the key features of Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor is the ability to speak with a financial advisor. These professionals are available via phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. ET. Financial advisors can be useful to all kinds of investors, but are especially helpful with new investors who aren’t as experienced with markets or financial terms. They can also help answer more complicated financial questions that might not be addressed on the platform’s website. This service is included in the 0.35 percent management fee you’ll pay annually.
Some other robo-advisors also offer access to financial advisors, but it often comes at a higher tier of service that requires a larger investment base from the client. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios offers access to human advisors for its premium tier, which carries a minimum investment of $25,000 and has an effective fee of more than 1.4 percent at that amount. The fee declines as a percentage at higher asset levels.
Low fund fees within portfolios
Another area where Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor stands out is its fees for ETFs that are included in its portfolio offerings. The portfolios’ ETF fees range from 0.07 percent to 0.15 percent, which is relatively low compared with funds that take a more active approach and have fees approaching 1 percent. The fees charged by the ETFs are on top of the management fee you’re already paying to Wells Fargo, so it’s important to keep them as low as possible.
Wells Fargo’s fund fees are in line with robo-advisor leaders such as Wealthfront and Betterment. Investors who are looking for even lower fees might also consider Vanguard Digital Advisor.
If you choose, Wells Fargo will also look for tax-loss harvesting opportunities in individual and joint accounts. This feature allows Wells Fargo to use an automated process to sell investments that have declined in order to maximize your tax savings. The IRS allows investors to claim up to a $3,000 net loss on their taxes each year, which would allow an investor in the 24 percent marginal tax bracket to save $720. Keep in mind that losses can also be used to offset gains and lower the capital gains taxes you owe.
Tax-loss harvesting isn’t offered by all robo-advisors and the ones that do offer it may require a certain level of assets before the service kicks in. Wealthfront won’t start stock-level tax-loss harvesting until your assets reach at least $100,000, while Schwab Intelligent Portfolios begins harvesting at $50,000 in assets.
After answering a series of questions about financial goals and levels of risk tolerance, investors will be placed into one of nine portfolios that range from conservative positioning to a more aggressive approach. Conservative portfolios tend to emphasize current income and have higher bond allocations, while more aggressive portfolios hold more stocks and focus on capital appreciation at the expense of current income, which usually means the funds will have greater volatility.
The portfolio allocations will vary between equities, fixed income and cash based on your answers to the questionnaire. While the nine portfolios offer a number of different scenarios that are likely to work for the majority of people, more opportunities to customize portfolios would be an improvement and bring Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor more in line with leading robo-advisors.
Betterment and Wealthfront each offer ETFs from at least 10 different asset classes, allowing for more diverse portfolios than what is currently offered by Wells Fargo. Still, Wells Fargo’s nine portfolios are far above the four options from JP Morgan Automated Investing.
Wells Fargo also offers additional features such as daily automatic rebalancing in your portfolio, which allows your positions to be resized if their allocations have drifted from the recommendation. Though rebalancing is common among robo-advisors, it’s nice to have it monitored automatically so you won’t have to track it yourself.
In addition to being able to speak with financial advisors 12 hours a day, five days a week, Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor clients will also be able to get questions asked via a phone line that’s available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-midnight ET. Between the financial advisor line and the large number of hours of availability through the general customer service phone number, customers shouldn’t have any issues getting their questions answered or having problems addressed.
You’ll also get access to Wells Fargo’s vast branch network, where you can make deposits into your account. The mobile app is also useful for depositing checks or initiating withdrawals.
Cons: Where Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor could improve
With an annual management fee of 0.35 percent, Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor comes in above what might be considered the typical fee amount for robo-advisors of 0.25 percent. This means that you’ll pay $35 for every $10,000 you have invested with Wells Fargo. They do offer a slight discount to 0.30 percent if you link your account with a Wells Fargo Checking account or to 0.25 percent if you link it to a Premiere Checking account, but make sure you link the accounts in the first 90 days of opening your Intuitive Investor account or the discount won’t apply.
Keep in mind that the fees you pay on the ETFs in your portfolio are in addition to the management fee, so your total fee could come to 0.50 percent if you are in one of the more expensive portfolios. While these fees are below what you’d pay for a traditional financial advisor, they’re above average for robo-advisors.
Wells Fargo does offer a satisfaction guarantee, which allows you to close your account within the first 90 days and receive a full refund of any fees paid.
Despite the above-average fee, Wells Fargo does stand out when compared to other bank-sponsored robo-advisors such as Merrill Guided Investing or JP Morgan Automated Investing. Neither of those banks offers tax-loss harvesting services and have limited portfolio options compared to Wells. Merrill will charge you 0.85 percent to have the ability to speak with a financial advisor, 0.50 percent higher than Wells.
Like other bank-sponsored robo-advisors, Wells Fargo Intuitive Investor doesn’t offer much in the way of tools or goal planning. There are educational articles available on the Wells Fargo Advisors website that cover a number of different life events such as marriage and estate planning, but other robo-advisors can provide better tools in this area.
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios offers its Play Zone tool, which allows users to play around with a number of different possibilities for the expected rate of return and savings estimates through scenario analysis.
Other account fees
You could also find yourself paying additional fees for taking certain actions. If you close an account, you’ll be charged an outgoing account transfer fee of $95, the same amount you would pay for terminating an IRA. An outgoing domestic wire transfer fee will run you $30, while an international one will cost $40. These fees might seem insignificant, but they can really eat into your overall returns, particularly if you have a relatively small account balance.
Betterment5.0 Bankrate Score
Betterment offers a high level of service and features across every aspect of its robo-advisor, from its core investment management to low-cost funds to premium features such as tax-loss harvesting. You can also upgrade your service if you need unlimited access to human advisors, and get access to a feature-rich cash management account, too.
Axos Invest3.0 Bankrate Score
Axos Managed Portfolios offers a strong robo-advisor service with some premium features, all at a reasonable price. Clients also receive a wide choice of funds, including socially responsible funds, though the associated cash management account forces clients to jump through some hoops to receive what is only a mediocre interest rate.
Interactive Advisors4.5 Bankrate Score
Interactive Advisors has upped its game this year, with new features such as tax-loss harvesting that put it among the top robo-advisors. That’s on top of one of the widest range of investing choices, low-cost funds and low overall fees. As strong as all these features are, though, the robo-advisor doesn’t offer access to human advisors, not unusual among robo-advisors.
SigFig3.0 Bankrate Score
SigFig keeps costs low whether it’s account fees, fund fees or the annual management fee. You’ll also get access to human advisors and benefit from automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting. But the lack of a cash management account and relatively high account minimums may cause some investors to look elsewhere.
E-Trade Core Portfolios3.5 Bankrate Score
E-Trade Core Portfolios offers a capable robo-advisor, one that may work best for customers looking to keep their accounts with the broker while having someone do the investing for them. Clients will get low-cost funds as well as less-common choices such as socially responsible funds, though the service doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting or many tools.
Titan Invest3.0 Bankrate Score
Titan offers something unusual in the robo-advisor space: Titan combines its own actively managed investments with passively managed ETFs, something no other major robo-advisor does. It also hedges those portfolios, does not charge a management fee for the passive funds – a rarity among rivals – and has a low minimum, making it easy to get started.
Morgan Stanley Access Investing3.5 Bankrate Score
For younger investors looking to invest based on their values or certain themes, Morgan Stanley’s Access Investing provides a suitable option among robo-advisors. Investors can choose between impact portfolios that focus on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues, market-tracking portfolios that minimize fees and performance-based portfolios that attempt to outperform through active management.
J.P. Morgan Automated Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
J.P. Morgan Automated Investing provides portfolio management services with automatic rebalancing and may be a good fit for existing J.P. Morgan customers. But you’ll also pay above-average management fees and have limited account types to choose from. There’s also no tax strategy included in the offering.
Vanguard Digital Advisor3.0 Bankrate Score
Vanguard Digital Advisors keeps it simple: an investment portfolio comprised of four funds at a low all-in price, and then adds on helpful tools and educational components. The combination should do well for clients who don’t need a robo-advisor to provide everything under the sun but want competent investment management from a proven and knowledgeable leader.
Fidelity Go4.5 Bankrate Score
Fidelity Go offers a solid robo-advisor offering that beginning and cost-conscious investors will especially appreciate. However, investors looking for features such as tax-loss harvesting or comprehensive goal planning may be disappointed.
Personal Capital4.0 Bankrate Score
Personal Capital customers will get an experience that more closely resembles that of a traditional financial advisor than a robo-advisor, but you’ll need at least $100,000 to get started. You’ll also get a comprehensive tax strategy to help minimize what you owe to Uncle Sam. But this higher level of service does come at an above average cost compared to the rest of the robo-advisor industry.
Stash3.5 Bankrate Score
Stash’s managed portfolios might appeal to small investors who are looking to save as they spend, but the monthly fees can be high for investors who don’t have a large balance built up and there are only a few types of accounts available.
M1 Finance4.5 Bankrate Score
M1 Finance takes some of the best of what brokers and robo-advisors do and mixes it into a new service that provides automated investing in a fully customizable portfolio – all for no cost. If you want to take it up a notch, you can pay an additional fee and receive a host of upgraded features, including one of the best cash management accounts out there.
Wealthfront5.0 Bankrate Score
Wealthfront offers a strong lineup of features – sophisticated portfolio management using low-cost funds – that showcase why it’s one of the leading independent robo-advisors. It provides a strong cash management account, a robust planning tool and premium features such as tax-loss harvesting that may more than pay back your annual fee.
Ellevest3.5 Bankrate Score
Ellevest brings a competent and well-considered robo-advisor, pitching itself to women, whose financial needs are traditionally underserved. But don’t think it won’t work for anyone who needs nuanced investment management, since it offers low-cost funds, socially responsible funds and – unlike most rivals – a flat monthly fee, making it advantageous for those with more to invest.
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios5.0 Bankrate Score
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios provides a top robo-advisor experience that should be a good fit for many investors. The basic plan comes with no management fee and a low-cost portfolio, plus you’ll get Schwab’s top-notch customer support and easy-to-use platform. The premium plan comes with unlimited access to human financial advisors, but both plans come with above-average account minimums and tax-loss harvesting isn’t an option until you reach at least $50,000 in assets.
Acorns3.5 Bankrate Score
Acorns is a good choice for new investors who are starting with small sums of money, allowing customers to build a diversified portfolio with just a few dollars. However, the fees are above average for small account values, though they’ll decline as your portfolio grows, and you won’t find any tax strategy as part of the robo-advisor offering.
Ally Invest Managed Portfolios4.0 Bankrate Score
Ally Invest Robo Portfolios are a good option for new investors who pay particular attention to costs. Existing Ally clients may also appreciate having all their finances in one place. Unfortunately, Ally doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting or provide human advisors to help with those especially difficult questions.
Merrill Guided Investing3.5 Bankrate Score
Merrill Guided Investing offers a credible investing service for Bank of America customers, but its high management fee makes it less attractive among a competitive field of robo-advisors. Merrill offers several positives, including access to human advisors and low-cost investment funds, but premium features such as tax-loss harvesting are missing.
SoFi Automated Investing4.5 Bankrate Score
SoFi Automated Investing gives cost-conscious investors a solid robo-advisor offering that comes with access to human financial advisors at no additional cost. But the lack of tax-loss harvesting and no socially responsible investing options may cause more sophisticated investors to look elsewhere.
Marcus Invest4.0 Bankrate Score
Marcus Invest offers the core feature of a robo-advisor – portfolio management – and then adds some twists, such as several portfolio types, all for a cost-competitive fee. It’s a great add-on for current Marcus customers, though some features of higher-end robo-advisors such as tax-loss harvesting and an expansive toolset are missing.