Betterment rolled out a new service they’re describing as “Financial Advice Packages.” It looks like they are interested in expanding their paid services. Prices as of September 12, 2018, on their website are as follows:
Betterment’s New Financial Advice Packages Cost Structure
|Getting Started Package||$149.00|
|Financial Checkup Package||$199.00|
|College Planning Package||$199.00|
|Marriage Planning Package||$299.00|
|Retirement Planning Package||$399.00|
These ala carte services are not a bad idea. In my opinion, it’s better to get neutral, unbiased advice from an advisor with a fiduciary standard than to work with an advisor compensated by steering you towards expensive investment products. There’s a conflict of interest when you advisor can choose investments that pay them large commissions and an ongoing high expense ratio. There are many examples of how hedge funds prey on their client’s funds for example.
So while it looks like this a useful new service that Betterment is offering, I’m wondering why they are again changing their business model. It seems they’re expanding their revenue stream, possibly as a part of a long-term strategy to eventually get rid of their assets under management advisory fee.
Betterment’s Management Fees
Betterment has a couple of pricing tiers of service available. At the time of this writing, the lowest priced tier is .25% of total assets invested. I’m going to predict that in time they will need to eliminate this fee to compete with similar services like M1 Finance and Schwab that offer robo-advisors with at no charge. The writing is on the wall that eventually fees need to GO, and I’m thinking Betterment is trying to build up alternative revenue streams in anticipation of this.
I think Betterment is an excellent service, but if you’re looking to use an automated service that allows personalized investing that has no fees NOW, M1 Finance is already offering this. It might not be a bad idea to pay Betterment and make use of their financial advice package. Then set up your portfolio at M1 Finance with no quarterly fees on your investments.
I should mention, that while I’ve been investing for more than 22 years and consider myself to be knowledgeable about the topic, I’m not an actual financial advisor so these are just ideas and you should consult with a financial advisor before investing any money.
I’m an affiliate of M1 Finance and may receive a commission on new account signups. I’m also a customer and wouldn’t promote them if I didn’t think they offer an excellent service I that I use.