SigFig is a strong choice among robo-advisors for low-cost portfolio management — 0.25%, with free management on the first $10,000 — but while that takes some of the bite out of its $2,000 account minimum to start, SigFig lags behind rivals Betterment and Wealthfront in some important ways.
SigFig is best for:
- Hands-off investors.
- Free management on small balances.
- Automatic rebalancing.
- Free appointments with a financial advisor.
SigFig at a glance
|Account management fee||
|Investment expense ratios||Between 0.07% and 0.15%|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, closing)||None|
|Portfolio mix||ETFs from 9 asset classes|
|Tax strategy||Free tax-loss harvesting on all accounts|
|Automatic rebalancing||Free on all accounts|
|Human advisor option||Unlimited free access to financial advisor|
|Tools||Portfolio management and goal tracking tools|
|Customer support options (includes website transparency)||Phone support Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern; Call, email and chat support
|Promotion||First $10,000 managed for free|
Where SigFig shines
Management fees: One distinction to note up front: Unlike other robo-advisors that work directly with individual investors, SigFig is a sort of add-on where you plug your existing, third-party brokerage account into its Asset Manager service. (SigFig is partnered with three brokerages: Charles Schwab, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade. If your money is there, it stays there. If you’re invested elsewhere, or are new to the game, and want to start with SigFig, it will open a managed account for you with TD Ameritrade.)
Now, when it comes to automated investing, low cost is the name of the game. And SigFig’s fees are among the lowest. The first $10,000 invested with them is managed for free. After that threshold, SigFig charges a 0.25% fee on all assets under management. That fee is competitive with top robo-advisors like Wealthfront — which offers free management on the first $5,000 for NerdWallet readers — and Betterment.
Like all robo-advisors, SigFig keeps costs low by leaning on exchange-traded funds, which are cheaper to purchase and sell than traditional mutual funds. SigFig pulls from 27 ETFs from nine asset classes, a respectable selection but not as broad as Schwab Intelligent Portfolios or Ellevest’s entry-level tier. SigFig also keeps costs down by not charging for transfers, closing, trading or tax-loss harvesting, as well as by offering free automatic rebalancing and dividend reinvestment.
Tools and analysis: In addition to its asset-management service, SigFig has a Portfolio Tracker system that lets you sync outside accounts — 401(k), IRA, brokerage — keep track and receive free advice.
After a short questionnaire assessing risk tolerance, Portfolio Tracker assesses your portfolio. The tool checks your stock and bond split and its geographic diversification across domestic, foreign and emerging markets. Portfolio Tracker also analyzes fees you’re paying on your investments to assess your “cash drag” — and whether that excess cash could be put to work in the market.
SigFig’s backend technology has captured the eye of Wells Fargo, UBS and Citizens Bank, all of which have partnered with SigFig to power its own robo-advisor offerings. For SigFig customers, it’s comforting to know these competitors like what’s under the hood.
Free access to financial advisors: The robo-advisor industry was built on the successful bet that consumers would trust their investment planning to advanced algorithms. But some consumers still like talking to people, especially when a lot of cash is involved. Many robo-advisors now offer a mix of human advice with automated portfolio management, but you can end up paying more with higher fees or account minimums.
Not SigFig, who makes financial advisors available for free consultations by appointment. Wealthfront offers no comparable service; Betterment has unlimited calls with financial advisors but charges a 0.4% management fee and has a $100,000 account minimum for the service.
Where SigFig falls short
Account minimum: SigFig’s 0.25% management fee may be in line with our top-ranked robo-advisors, but at $2,000 the account minimum is higher than both Betterment ($0 minimum) and Wealthfront ($500 minimum).
Limited brokers: All SigFig accounts are managed through a custodial arrangement with TD Ameritrade, Schwab, or Fidelity brokerage account. So you’ll have to choose which brokerage you want to house your investments. If you want to transfer management of existing assets to SigFig, there will be additional costs — although the company notes it strives to minimize taxes when customers move assets to SigFig management. If your assets are already with any of those three providers, there is no cost.
Is SigFig right for you?
SigFig offers investors a strong choice for low-cost, automated investing. Its management fees are competitive with best-in-class rivals, as are many of its services. The $2,000 account minimum may be too much for some to start, and the fact investments must be with TD Ameritrade, Schwab or Fidelity may rankle some investors, especially if there are costs to transfer existing assets. But overall, SigFig is among the best discount brokers on the market.