Which Is Right for You?



Important

On February 8, 2022, Betterment announced that it is acquiring crypto manager Makara. As a result of the acquisition, Betterment now gives retail investors and advisors the ability to invest in diversified crypto portfolios alongside their existing investments.

Betterment vs. Fidelity Go: Who They’re Best For

Innovation has sparked the rapid rise of the digital investment management space and led to fierce competition in the industry. Betterment launched in 2008 as one of the early industry challengers, recently expanding into crypto with the acquisition of Makara in 2022. Fidelity was founded in 1946 and is one of the top brokerage institutions today, leveraging vast resources when starting their digital investment advisory service, Fidelity Go, in 2016. 

Betterment and Fidelity Go have different origins, but they share a similar goal making it easier to manage your portfolio, monitor your financial situation, and keep costs low. We’ll explore the nuances of both offerings so you can decide which platform is the best for your financial journey.

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: 0.25% (annual) for digital plan, 0.40% (annual) for the premium plan 
  • Betterment is our best robo-advisor for beginners and best for cash management
  • Simple signup process and intuitive site design lets you navigate seamlessly
  • External account linking is available for holistic analysis of your financial picture
  • Strong planning tools for multiple goals such as a home purchase or retirement
  • Premium tier offers access to human financial advisor
  • Account Minimum: $0 to open an account, $10 to be invested
  • Fee: A tiered structure with fees of 0% to 0.35%, depending on balance
  • Fidelity Go’s all-digital platform is great for hands-off investors and current Fidelity users 
  • Investors wanting to grow market expertise have access to a vast educational catalog
  • Straightforward goal setting options, financial calculators, and portfolio strategy
  • Transparent, low fee, with no cost for first $10,000 and competitive pricing thereafter

Account Setup

Betterment’s signup process is user friendly and focused on a streamlined onboarding experience. You’ll be prompted to enter goals, share investment experience, and verify personal information so a portfolio can be assigned that best aligns to your situation. Each account you set up can have a different goal and investment allocation to ensure the portfolio is property tailored to you. The investment strategy generally follows a passive approach based on modern portfolio theory (MPT) that is invested through exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Investors looking for further guidance have access to a human financial planner via separately purchased packages or at the premier tier once $100,000 is invested.

Fidelity Go also has a straightforward onboarding journey. The experience is designed to assess your background based on your timeline, risk tolerance, and personal data so a portfolio can be assigned. You can adjust the suggested portfolio’s risk level as well if desired. The investment strategy also follows modern portfolio theory with the underlying assets being invested in an assortment of no-cost Fidelity Flex mutual funds. You can view estimates on your ability to reach your goals based on the provided data, current balance, and ongoing contributions. Additional guidance relies on educational content as no human financial advisors are offered.

The account setup at both Betterment and Fidelity Go is fast, straightforward, and entirely online, so there was no clear winner in this category. 

Goal Planning

Betterment provides a wide range of goal-setting choices that include retirement, education, major purchase, safety net, and general investing. These goals are paired with a strong selection of tools and calculators that let you better assess the likelihood of reaching your financial destination. An external account-syncing feature lets you get a more comprehensive view of your overall progress and make adjustments as needed. Helpful prompts further add to planning experience such as suggesting additional deposits if you fall behind your goal.

Every Fidelity Go account is associated with a single goal, but you have the option to open multiple accounts that each have separate goals and investment risk levels. Goal setting is limited to retirement or, more generally, “something else.” Tools are available to help calculate whether you’re on track and incorporate your balance, upcoming deposits, and a variety of market conditions. Fidelity will suggest ways to increase the probability of reaching your goals if you are off-course. Other Fidelity accounts can be viewed together so you can get a better overall sense of your financial picture, but external accounts beyond these cannot be linked.

When it comes to goal planning, we give Betterment the edge over Fidelity Go for its more comprehensive approach that takes external accounts into consideration. 

Account Types

Fidelity Go and Betterment each support the most popular account types across taxable and retirement accounts. However, Betterment provides a wider variety of account types by offering support for other options such as simplified employee pension (SEP) individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and trust accounts.

Betterment account types:

  • Individual taxable accounts
  • Joint taxable accounts
  • Traditional IRA 
  • Roth IRA 
  • SEP IRA (for the self-employed and small businesses)
  • Rollover IRA
  • Trust accounts
  • High-interest savings accounts

FidelityGo account types:

  • Individual taxable accounts
  • Joint taxable accounts
  • Traditional IRA accounts
  • Roth IRA accounts
  • Rollover IRA

Account Services

Betterment makes moving money a seamless experience, as deposits and withdrawals can be set up by simply linking a bank account to the platform. These are transacted without a fee. Transfers of other investment accounts can be initiated as well. Betterment recently expanded into the crypto space by announcing the acquisition of crypto manager Makara on February 8, 2022. This gives you the ability to invest in crypto alongside an existing ETF portfolio. While this expansion increases Betterment’s reach, margin accounts and lending services aren’t supported. 

You’ll find a similarly intuitive deposit and withdrawal flow using Fidelity Go, with the added benefit of a decision-making feature that helps determine how to spread deposits among various accounts if you have multiple goals. Since Fidelity Go’s offering is designed to focus on the portfolio management solution, you won’t find loan, margin, spend, credit, and banking options. 

Cash Management

Betterment offers a checking account, high-yield savings, and a debit card as part of the cash management service. This gives you valuable tools to help further manage your money. It’s worth noting that Betterment won our Best for Cash Management award, making it an easier decision if you’re looking to consolidate all your finances in one place.

Fidelity Go takes a more narrow approach to cash management by focusing on a sweep account. Uninvested cash is swept into the Fidelity Government Cash Reserves fund so you can earn a bit higher return compared to traditional bank accounts.

Portfolio Construction

Both platforms take care of the investment management so you don’t have to do it yourself, but there are some nuances to the underlying strategies and fund selections. Betterment uses ETFs exclusively (with a crypto opt-in) to build portfolios that fall into several subcategories which include:

  • Core Portfolio with standard diversification and weightings 
  • Socially Responsible allocations that score highly for environmental and social issues
  • Goldman Sachs Smart Beta which attempts to outperform the market
  • Income focused portfolio of BlackRock ETFs
  • Flexible Portfolios that include general asset classes but weighted to investor preference

Fidelity Go portfolios are built solely through the use of various no-fee Fidelity Flex mutual funds that can be combined to make up 14 different risk levels. The funds are passive and diversified by including bonds, short-term, domestic, and foreign holdings. While this approach keeps costs low, using only proprietary funds is a limiting factor even if the funds themselves perform as expected. Investors seeking socially responsible options will also need to look elsewhere.

  Betterment Fidelity Go 
Individual Stocks No  No
Mutual Funds  No  Yes (Proprietary Only)
Fixed Income  No  No 
REITs  No  No 
Socially Responsible or ESG Options Yes No 
ETFs  Yes  No 
Non-Proprietary ETFs  Yes  No 
Mutual Funds  No  No 
Forex  No  No 
Crypto  Yes  No 

Portfolio Customization

Betterment’s Flexible Portfolios gives users the most control over the investment decisioning. While all Betterment portfolios allow for adjustment in risk levels, Flexible Portfolios expands on this feature by letting investors choose specific amounts to allocate to particular asset classes. This feature may be best geared towards advanced investors looking to fine tune the portfolio strategy. 

Fidelity Go lets you adjust your portfolio’s risk level which will reallocate the weightings among the pre-selected Fidelity Flex mutual funds, but beyond this doesn’t provide a deeper level of customization. This approach works well for hands-off users but may leave experienced investors looking for more.

Portfolio Management

Both platforms automatically rebalance your portfolio, although each platform takes a separate approach to this strategy. Betterment rebalances your allocation when the portfolio drifts more than 3% from the initial target weighting. If you link external accounts, you’ll receive recommendations based on your entire financial picture. 

Fidelity Go also rebalances your portfolio once the allocation drifts beyond certain thresholds. You can also link other Fidelity accounts to the platform so you view these all in one place. Since Fidelity offers a very large range of other investment options not included in Fidelity Go’s portfolio, such as the April, 2022 announcement of bitcoin support in 401(k)’s, this can be especially helpful to be aware of your overall allocation. However, Fidelity Go doesn’t incorporate these accounts into planning calculations. Neither platform lets you manually force a rebalance but you can change your risk level at any time. 

Tax-Advantaged Investing

An important aspect of investing in taxable accounts is tax optimization. Betterment applies tax-loss harvesting for all users with taxable accounts. Fidelity Go doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting but does provide tax-advantaged funds (i.e. municipal bonds) to reduce your tax burden over time.

Key Portfolio Management Features

  Betterment Fidelity Go 
Automatic Rebalancing Daily monitoring, rebalanced when portfolio drifts more than 3% from target allocation Semi-Annually or significant drifts, and when cash threshold exceeds 1% 
Reporting Features  Net worth, goal progress, investment performance, tax  Goal progress, investment performance, tax 
Tax-Loss Harvesting  Yes – Setup to keep users invested and avoid wash sales  No 
External Account Syncing/Consolidation  Yes – Users can link external retirement, brokerage, and bank accounts. Only Betterment holdings receive portfolio adjustments.  Yes – Only Fidelity Accounts 

Security

Both Fidelity and Betterment make security a priority and have acceptable protocols in place to safeguard your assets and data. Standard Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) coverage is in place on both platforms for missing funds, which covers up to $500K total value or $250K cash in your account. Data is protected with strong encryption, biometric entry, and two-factor authentication. Fidelity Go provides an additional Customer Protection Guarantee which reimburses you for unauthorized activity on your accounts. 

User Experience

Desktop

Betterment has built a user-friendly desktop experience by creating a comprehensive dashboard that is easy to navigate. Account details, performance metrics, goals, and tools are all available at your fingertips and thanks to an intuitive site design. If you connect outside accounts to Betterment, you’ll find it relatively effortless to monitor your finances.

Fidelity Go users will notice the desktop experience is a more streamlined, simplified version of other Fidelity platforms. Tools, calculators, account management, and reporting features are straightforward so you can smoothly monitor your financial situation. Users not familiar with Fidelity’s experience may find it takes a bit of getting used to, but overall you’ll have everything needed to manage your portfolio.

Mobile App 

Betterment scores highly for their mobile experience, ranking 4.8 for the iOS version and 4.6 for Android. Generally you’ll find that the mobile app provides all the features that you would expect to see on the desktop experience. Users who prefer to access their portfolio from the app will especially find this welcome news.

Fidelity Go has comparable full feature functionality as the desktop version, also scoring highly on iOS and Android. However, the Fidelity Go app is built into the main Fidelity app, so it can take a little bit of getting used to if using multiple Fidelity platforms at the same time.

Customer Service

Betterment’s customer service team is available by phone and email from 9am to 6pm EST, Monday through Friday. Investors who are part of the Premium Investing tier have access to financial planners at any time. Users who purchase advice packages can also communicate with advisors based on the package guidelines. The FAQ and site resources are sufficient for most general inquiries as well.

Fidelity Go is primarily a digital experience and you’ll find the available support reflects this disposition. The client success phone line, virtual assistant, and email is available 24/7. Live chat is accessible between 8am – 6pm EST, Monday through Friday. The FAQ page is relatively light and may not address more detailed inquiries.

  Betterment Fidelity Go 
Phone contact available Yes, Monday-Friday 9am – 6pm EST Yes, 24/7
Pre-funding phone consultation with certified advisor  No  No 
Online chat available  Yes, Chatbot only  Yes, Live and Chatbot 
Website FAQ section  Yes, Basic FAQs  Yes, Basic FAQs 

Fees

Fees are not the be-all and end-all of evaluating a financial institution, but they serve as a crucial element to ensure you’re getting the value needed to achieve your goals and financial outcomes.

Betterment provides two separate experiences with different fee structures. The Digital Investing plan includes digital advice, tax-loss harvesting, automatic rebalancing, and the full suite of accounts and portfolios for a 0.25% annual fee. The Premium Investing plan is priced at 0.4% annually and includes the Digital Investing plan features plus unlimited communication with a Certified Financial Planner™. Additional costs not included in either plan fee is ongoing ETF management fees, ranging from 0.07% – 0.15% annually. 

Fidelity Go uses a similar percentage fee pricing structure for accounts $50,000 and over, charging 0.35% annually. However, no fees are incurred for balances less than $10,000 and accounts between $10,000 and $50,000 have just a $3 monthly subscription cost. The Fidelity Flex mutual funds also ensure you have no additional investment fees.

Category Betterment  Fidelity Go 
Management fees for $5,000 account $12.50 – Digital No Fee
Management fees for $25,000 account  $62.50 – Digital  Accounts between $10,001 – $49,999 charged $3 monthly 
Management fees for $100,000 account  $400 – Premium  0.35% 
Termination fees  $0  $0 
Expense ratios  0.09% Average  None 
Mutual funds  N/A  None 

Our Take

Betterment and Fidelity Go both provide strong robo-advisor offerings that each stand out in their own way. Deciding between the two depends on your goals, investment management preferences, and desire for financial guidance. Betterment shines as a holistic portfolio management platform given the option to link external accounts, access financial advisors, and provide some portfolio customization outside of generic risk level adjustments. The goal planning experience is outstanding as well. The recent acquisition of Makara also lets users add crypto to their investment strategy and the cash management options topped our best in category rankings.

While Fidelity Go doesn’t offer these features, hands-off investors who don’t want human financial guidance may prefer Fidelity Go’s streamlined focus on portfolio management. Fidelity keys in on cost containment and performance, as the Fidelity Flex mutual funds that make up the portfolio carry no ongoing fees. This aspect essentially puts the fee structure on par with Betterment’s platform. Existing Fidelity users may prefer the familiarity of Fidelity Go’s site experience and tooling as well. Overall, both platforms help you better manage your money and keep costs low so you can improve your financial well-being. 

Methodology

Our mission at Investopedia is to provide investors with reviews and ratings of robo-advisors that are comprehensive and unbiased. Our team of researchers and expert writers, led by Michael Sacchitello, spent months evaluating all aspects of a robo-advisor’s platform, including the account setup process, goal planning tools, account service options, portfolio construction offerings, portfolio management, mobile and desktop user experience, educational content, fees, and security. As part of this evaluation, we extract critical data points that are weighted by our quantitative model that produces a powerful star-scoring system.

With the individual investor in mind, we’ve designed a comprehensive ranking methodology to find the best overall robo-advisors and the best robo-advisors across nine key categories. Each advisor is then scored across multiple variables to rate performance in every applicable category. The score for the overall award is a weighted average of the categories.

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