The Advisory Landscape

The Robo-Report

Backend Benchmarking publishes new combined Robo Report™ and Robo Ranking™ For Q2 2019

Firm Dives Into Review of Cash Management Tools From Robo Advisors. Visit here for more details.

MARTINSVILLE, NJ — August 19, 2019 — The 12th Edition of The Robo Report™ has been published by Backend Benchmarking for the second quarter of 2019 and includes the 3rd Edition of The Robo Ranking™. The Report covers hard data on digital financial advice, while the Ranking scores qualitative aspects of the services. The firm dives into review of cash management tools increasingly available from robo advisors, as well as Socially Responsible Investing (SRI).

“We believe The Robo Ranking™ is a powerful tool to help those seeking a digital advice product find the best providers,” , said Founder Ken Schapiro. “Although we rank each robo with an overall score, we also acknowledge the differences in individual investors and their situations. To aid different types of investors in finding a product that is right for them, we created sub-rankings to help investors understand areas where different products excel.”

The Robo Ranking™ goes well beyond performance and grades the robos across more than 45 specific metrics. Each robo is scored 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 is specific and unambiguous. Category winners include: Best Robo for Performance at a Low Cost; Best Robo for Complex Financial Planning Needs; Best Robo for Digital Financial Planning; Best Robo for First-Time Investors; and Best Robo from an Incumbent Financial Institution.

Highlights from Ranking:

  • Fidelity Go and Vanguard as Best Overall Robos.
  • Wealthfront and Personal Capital Best Robo for Digital Financial Planning.
  • Betterment and SoFi’s comprehensive platforms and low minimums win awards for Best Robo for First-Time Investors.

Highlights from Report:

  • Cash accounts are spreading across independent digital advisors.
  • Fidelity Go and SigFig holding their place as long-term outperformers.
  • SRI Portfolios showing positive signs of strong performance.
  • Subscription pricing introduced at Schwab is gaining traction.

Cash is the new battlefield in the digital advice arena...

Market Insights:

  • Growth has experienced a multi-year dominance, outperforming value YTD, as well as over the trailing one-, two-, and three-year periods.
  • Equally impressive results were seen over a one-year period, where Morgan Stanley and Wealthsimple’s SRI equity portfolios returned 2.76% and 4.76% above their corresponding non-SRI portfolios.
  • Looking longer-term, Fidelity Go and SigFig continue to show strong performance over two-and three-year time periods.
  • International holdings is one of the largest differences between portfolios.

Cash Is The New Battlefield

“Cash is the new battlefield in the digital advice arena,” said David Goldstone, Head of Research for both the Report and Ranking. “In the first half of 2019, we saw Wealthfront’s market-leading APY on their cash account create a strong inflow of assets. A little more than two months after Wealthfront’s FDIC-insured cash account went live, they announced it had already attracted north of $1 billion in assets.

Although it appears Betterment’s cash product, which was live during the first half of the year, did not have as much success, Betterment was hard at work modifying their offering. Announcing in late July, Betterment’s cash product now carries FDIC insurance and has a more competitive rate than Wealthfront’s. In addition, Betterment will launch a spending account with a debit card later this year. Wealthfront has also expressed ambitions to provide a product that can help users with day-to-day cash flows. Adding to recent cash vehicle announcements, Personal Capital also launched a savings account offering at the end of the second quarter.”






Performance is partly based on Backend Benchmarking’s innovative method to compare globally diversified portfolios called Normalized Benchmarking. A methodology of Normalized Benchmarking, details of how they create the scores and ranking and The Robo Report™ and The Robo Ranking™ are all available for free at Follow the Report on Twitter @theroboreport.
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