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.
Pros & Cons
Low account management costs.
Goal-based planning tools.
Limited account selection.
$500 account minimum.
Compare to Other Advisors
per year (approximately)
no promotion available at this time
career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit
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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Axos Managed Portfolios charges a 0.24% management fee and offers more portfolio customization than most robo-advisors offer. Axos lets investors create unlimited milestones to track progress toward multiple financial goals.
In August 2020, Axos restructured its offerings: The company no longer offers free investment management, but instead offers all of its previously Premium features such as Portfolio Plus and tax-loss harvesting for a single annual advisory fee of 0.24%.
Axos Managed Portfolios is best for:
Investors who want to customize their portfolios.
Axos Managed Portfolios at a glance
Account management fee
Investment expense ratios
$75 automated transfer out fee; $30 returned check fee; $10 IRA closing fee.
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.
• Individual nonretirement accounts. • Roth, traditional and SEP IRAs.
Tax-loss harvesting included on all accounts.
Automatic and free on all accounts.
Human advisor option
Savings account/cash management account option
Its affiliate company Axos Bank offers savings accounts with 0.61% APY.
Customer support options (includes website transparency)
Phone and email support Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific.
Where Axos Managed Portfolios shines
Inexpensive management: 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 0.50% of assets managed is typical. Axos squeaks under that range with its 0.24% management fee. 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.
Customizable investments: 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. The funds the company draws from carry an average expense ratio of 0.12% and 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.
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, marijuana, 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.
Goal-based investing: 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.
Automated investing: The free Formulas feature (available only with taxable investment accounts, not IRAs) lets users quickly take advantage of opportunities to direct additional funds through a linked bank account toward investing goals. It's like an optimized version of investing on autopilot. For example, you can set it to deposit matching funds for any dividends your investments pay. Or if an investment drops in value, creating an opportunity to purchase extra shares "on sale," you can set a formula to automatically buy more.
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 minimum: Axos’ old model had a $1 minimum to open an account, but its new model has a far steeper $500 minimum. Several robo-advisors operate with a $0 minimum, making that $500 threshold feel especially high.
Account selection: Axos Managed Portfolios customers can open only individual taxable accounts or traditional, Roth or SEP 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.
Recent technical glitches: We recently received reports that Axos users were having technical difficulties with the platform. We asked the company about it, and Axos shared the below statement about the issues:
Earlier this year, 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.
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? Here’s our methodology.
NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers 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 firsthand 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.
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%.
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.
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.
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