Axos Managed Portfolios Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Axos Managed Portfolios offers inexpensive investment management, and allows more portfolio customization than most robo-advisors.

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

Axos Managed Portfolios stands out for the level of customization allowed by the service: The company allows investors to add or remove 32 investment types, including socially responsible investments.

Axos Managed Portfolios

on Axos Invest's website

on Axos Invest's website

Fees

0.24%

management fee

Account Minimum

$500

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low account management costs.
  • Customizable portfolios.
  • Goal-based planning tools.

Cons

  • Limited account selection.

Compare to Other Advisors

Axos Managed Portfolios
SoFi Automated Investing
Vanguard Digital Advisor
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fees

0.24%

management fee

Fees

0%

management fee

Fees

0.15%

per year (approximately)

Account Minimum

$500

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

Promotion

No advisory fees

your first 90 days of Vanguard Digital Advisor investment management (Enrollment requires a Vanguard account with a minimum of $3,000)

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Full Review

Where Axos Managed Portfolios investing shines

Inexpensive management: Axos Managed Portfolios charges a 0.24% management fee, which is relatively low, and offers more portfolio customization than most robo-advisors offer.

Customizable investments: The company asks each customer a few questions, then creates a portfolio of exchange-traded funds, weighted to reflect the amount of risk the investor is willing to accept.

Tax-loss harvesting: Tax-loss harvesting, an investment strategy that can help reduce taxes on your investment gains, is available to all Axos Managed Portfolios customers.

Where Axos Managed Portfolios falls short

Account selection: Axos Managed Portfolios customers can open only individual taxable accounts or traditional and Roth IRAs. Other robos and brokers also offer joint taxable and custodial accounts.


Axos Managed Portfolios is best for:

  • Beginner investors.

  • Goal-based investing.

  • Investors who want to customize their portfolios.

Axos Managed Portfolios at a glance

Account minimum

  • $0 account minimum but trading can’t start until balance reaches $500.

  • Any account under $500 is charged $1/month.

Account management fee

0.24%.

Investment expense ratios

Average 0.12%.

Account fees

  • $75 automated transfer out fee.

  • $50 per-plan termination fee on qualified accounts.

Portfolio mix

Portfolio mix is generally well-diversified but lacks significant exposure to international bonds. Portfolios are highly customizable for a robo-advisor.

Socially responsible portfolio option

Portfolio Plus feature lets you invest in particular sectors, such as Digital Security, or causes, such as companies with women in leadership roles.

Accounts supported

• Individual nonretirement accounts. • Roth and traditional IRAs.

Tax strategy

Tax-loss harvesting included on all accounts.

Automatic rebalancing

Automatic and free on all accounts.

Human advisor option

None.

Savings account/cash management account option

Its affiliate company Axos Bank offers savings accounts with 1.25% APY.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

Customer support is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time by phone and email.

More details about Axos Managed Portfolios' ratings

Account minimum: 4 out of 5 stars

Axos doesn’t have an account minimum — you can open an account with any amount. However, trading can’t begin until your account balance is at $500. If your balance is below $500, you will pay a fee of $1 per month. Several competing robo-advisors have a $0 minimum and don’t charge for a $0 balance.

Account management fee: 4 out of 5 stars

A big draw of robo-advisors is that they offer financial advice and management for much less than a human financial advisor charges; around 0.25% to 0.5% of assets managed is typical. Axos squeaks under that range with its 0.24% management fee on accounts over $500. Yes, that 0.01% doesn’t make too much of a difference, but any money you don’t spend on management fees is money you get to keep.

Investment expense ratios: 4 out of 5 stars

Expense ratios are annual fees expressed as a percentage of your investment in a fund. The ratio varies depending on the robo-advisor. Axos Managed Portfolios has an average expense ratio of 0.12%.

Account fees: 3 out of 5 stars

Axos Managed Portfolios charges a $75 automated transfer out fee and a $50 per-plan termination fee on qualified accounts.

Portfolio mix: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Like many robo-advisors, Axos Managed Portfolios’ investment philosophy is based on modern portfolio theory. The company automatically creates a portfolio for each client by asking a few questions. Those questions lead to a “risk score” that helps build a recommended portfolio of exchange-traded funds, weighted to reflect the amount of risk the investor is willing to accept. The company says clients can increase or decrease their risk scores, and the investment recommendations will automatically update to reflect the change.

Axos Core Portfolios are similar to those of other robo-advisors. Funds cover U.S., international and emerging market equities; U.S. government and corporate bonds; short-term high-yield bonds; Treasury inflation-protected securities; and real estate investment trusts, or REITs. Many of the ETFs are from Vanguard and iShares.

Socially responsible portfolio options: 5 out of 5 stars

Investors who want to customize their portfolios can use the Portfolio Plus feature at no extra cost. Clients can add or remove 32 investment types and add investments by sector, such as digital security, consumer staples and socially minded companies. And while the level of added customization is a great middle ground for those investors who want more control than they'd get with a traditional robo-advisor but don’t want to choose all their own investments themselves, the company states that portfolios constructed from the additional investments available through Portfolio Plus are not recommendations of Axos.

Accounts supported: 2 out of 5 stars

Axos Managed Portfolios customers can open only individual taxable accounts or traditional and Roth IRAs. You can’t, for example, open a joint taxable account with your spouse, as you can at other robo-advisors and brokers, and you can't open a trust or a custodial account for your children.

Tax strategy: 4 out of 5 stars

Tax-loss harvesting is an investment strategy that involves selling losing investments to help reduce taxes on your investment gains. It’s available to all Axos Managed Portfolios customers.

Automatic rebalancing: 5 out of 5 stars

Axos Managed Portfolios monitors your portfolio and makes adjustments to keep your asset allocation aligned with your original choices. Customers receive automatic rebalancing for free.

Human advisor option: 1 out of 5 stars

Some robo-advisors offer human support, sometimes for an added fee. This isn’t a service Axos Managed Portfolios provides.

Savings account/cash management options: 5 out of 5 stars

Axos Managed Portfolios doesn’t offer a savings account or cash management options, but you can open a savings account with Axos Bank, its affiliate company. These accounts have 1.25% APY.

Customer support options: 4 out of 5 stars

Customers have access to phone and email support Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time. Note customers may face technical difficulties with the platform. We asked the company about it, and Axos shared the below statement about the issues:

"... Axos migrated assets from Apex Clearing to Axos Clearing, while retiring its previous consumer app. Our intention was to allow customers to access their accounts through a user interface that provides a more robust and holistic financial services experience, allowing a customer to bank and invest seamlessly without using multiple applications. During the transition, several issues occurred causing the new user interface to be unable to relay data to and from our new clearing firm. As we worked to resolve these issues, we waived advisory fees for the affected customers. The issues that caused these errors have been resolved, and we are working to provide more features to our customers."

We will continue to monitor the situation and update this review as needed.

Other features you should know

Axos Managed Portfolios takes a goal-based approach to help investors create buckets for their money, called "milestones." Users tell the service their goal, time horizon, income and net worth, and Axos will calculate a recommendation for how much should be invested toward that milestone. Users can also adjust the recommended asset allocation for each milestone with a bar slider.

Is Axos Managed Portfolios right for you?

Axos Managed Portfolios is a solid choice for investors looking for low-cost management as well as some goal-based guidance. For investors who want more choice than a bare-bones robo-advisor offers, Axos makes it easy to dip your toes into choosing your own investments. Of course, as soon as you start choosing your own investments, you take on some of the responsibility that a robo-advisor would otherwise assume for you. Be sure to do your due diligence with any investments you pick.

How do we review robo-advisors?

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. robo-advisors by assets under management, along with emerging industry players, using a multifaceted and iterative approach. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgments on which ones will best meet your needs.

DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS

We collect data directly from providers, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. Our process starts by sending detailed questionnaires to providers to complete. The questionnaires are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses from providers. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The questionnaire answers, combined with product demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

RATING FACTORS

Evaluations vary by provider type, but in each case are based upon the weighted averages of factors that include but are not limited to: advisory and account fees, account minimums and types, investment selection, investment expense ratios, trading costs, access to human financial advisors, educational resources and tools, rebalancing and tax minimization options, and customer support including branch access, user-facing technology and mobile platforms.

Each factor can involve evaluating various sub-factors. For instance, when gauging the investment selections offered by robo-advisors, 80% of the score is based on the potential for diversification (how well-diversified a resulting portfolio of investments could be) combined with the availability of specialty portfolios and level of customization for investors. Expense ratios form an additional 10% of the score, and low or no management fee the remaining 10%.

FACTOR WEIGHTINGS

The weighting of each factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are the most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. The factors considered, and how those factors are weighted, change depending upon the category of providers reviewed.

INFORMATION UPDATES

Writers and editors conduct our broker reviews on an annual basis but continually make updates throughout the year. We maintain frequent contact with providers and highlight any changes in offerings.

THE REVIEW TEAM

The review team comprises seasoned writers, researchers and editors who cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, alternative investments, socially responsible investing, financial advisors, retirement and investment strategy on a daily basis. In addition to NerdWallet, the work of our team members has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Nasdaq, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance and other national and regional media outlets.

The combined expertise of our Investing team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluations of provider products and services from the customer perspective. Our writers and editors combine to have more than 70 years of deep experience in finance, ranging from a former Wall Street Journal reporter to a former senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

While NerdWallet does have partnerships with many of the reviewed providers, we manage potential conflicts of interest by maintaining a wall between our content and business operations. This wall is designed to prevent our writers and the review process from being influenced or impacted by our business partnerships. This way, all reviews can provide an unbiased review that serves the interests of our users. For more information, see NerdWallet’s editorial guidelines.

on Axos Invest's website