In the heated battle of robo-advisors vying to help you build a portfolio, Wealthfront and Vanguard Personal Advisor Services are among the top choices. Yet there are key differences — especially the minimum you need to open an account, the types of accounts supported and management fees.
Let’s see how they stack up:
Wealthfront vs. Vanguard
Wealthfront is best for:
- Low account balances.
- Free financial tools, even if you don’t have a Wealthfront account.
- 529 college savings plan management.
Wealthfront at a glance
|Account management fee||0.25% (first $5,000 managed free for NerdWallet readers).|
|Investment expense ratios||ETF expense ratios average 0.08%.
Portfolios that include the Wealthfront Risk Parity Fund may have an overall expense ratio of 0.11%.
|Account fees (annual, transfer, closing)||None.|
|Portfolio mix||ETFs from 11 asset classes (portfolios generally consist of 6 to 8). Individual stocks held in larger accounts.|
|Automatic rebalancing||Free on all accounts.|
|Human advisor option||None.|
|Customer support options (includes website transparency)||Phone support Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern; email support.|
|Promotion||NerdWallet readers get free management on the first $5,000 invested. Refer a friend and you both get an extra $5,000 managed free.|
Learn more: Read our full Wealthfront review
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is best for:
- Large account balances.
- Low-cost access to financial advisors.
- Comprehensive financial planning.
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services at a glance
|Account management fee||Depends on account balance:
0.30%: Less than $5 million
0.20%: $5 million to less than $10 million
0.10%: $10 million to less than $25million
0.05%: Greater than $25 million
|Investment expense ratios||0.04% - 0.12%; weighted average is 0.08%|
|Account fees||No account fees; some customers may incur transaction costs for non-Vanguard products (this isn't typical)|
|Portfolio mix||Portfolios are created by advisors on an individual basis. Core holdings are Admiral Shares of Vanguard index funds. ETFs and active funds are incorporated if needed.|
|Tax strategy||Assets are allocated strategically among taxable and tax-advantaged accounts to optimize for taxes. Tax-loss harvesting done on client-by-client basis.|
|Automatic rebalancing||Quarterly; Advisors can also review and alter the automatic rebalance trades at any time|
|Human advisor option||Appointments typically take place Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern; certified financial planners available|
|Tools||High-quality tools, including simulators, calculators, retirement-planning and educational materials|
|Customer support options (includes website transparency)||Phone and email support available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern; some information difficult to find on website.|