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Betterment Expands Its Human Advice Offerings

July 28, 2017

Robo pioneer Betterment now offers personalized advice with a human financial advisor to all clients of its robo-advice platform, the company says in a press release.

All clients on Betterment’s platform can now ask financial planning questions via a mobile app and get a response “in about one business day,” the company says. But rather than one specific advisor, the customer questions will be routed to a “team of licensed financial experts,” according to the press release.

Betterment has also lowered pricing on its previously-launched “premium” package. As reported previously, earlier this year the company offered two additional services for an extra fee. While the all robo-platform cost is 0.25% a year, Betterment charged 0.4% for its “plus” option — which allowed just one call a year with a human advisor — and 0.5% for its premium offering, which allows unlimited phone calls with an advisor.

Now customers paying 0.25% can tap Betterment’s team of advisors as often as they like via the app.

Meanwhile, the premium service, allowing unlimited phone calls, has dropped to 0.4%. But this service requires a minimum $100,000 balance, although balances of $2 million or more don’t get charged any fees except for ETF fees, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The former “plus” option, which only allowed one call per year with an advisor, is no longer available.

A company spokesman tells the paper that they “wanted to eliminate confusion over which service people should opt into.”

(Getty)

By going the hybrid route, Betterment’s approach is now closer to its traditional wealth management peers rolling out their own digital offerings, the Wall Street Journal writes. It also comes at a time when Betterment’s growth has slowed.

The leader in the digital advice space, Vanguard’s hybrid robo-advisor, has grown assets on the platform from $52 billion at the start of the year to more than $83 billion today, the Journal writes.

Betterment, meanwhile — which more than doubled its assets in 2016 from $3.2 billion to $7 billion — has grown 39% this year, to $9.7 billion, according to the paper.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Wall Street Journal article cited in this story, click here.