Archive for August, 2011

Betterment.com – Account Update

I posted about Betterment.com investment service couple of weeks ago, compared their website with others and recommended to check it out. I also mentioned about their $25 bonus offering for account opened with $250 initial deposit.

I just want to post an update about my experience and performance of my portfolio so far since I opened my the account. I know it has just been couple of weeks and cannot expect so much growth but to my surprise, I saw a 1% growth for 10 days even with stock market rollergoaster ride. That’s the advantage of investing in ETF’s and index funds which are so diversified.

Anyway, let me share my experience as likes and Dislikes.

LIKES

  1. I got the $25 bonus amount same day I opened and initiated my $300 first deposit.

  2. As I said in my earlier post, their website interface is very easy to use, fast and really understandable even for non-financial saavy consumer which they are targeting. They really spent good amount of time and research to study and design the website.

  3. Fast money transfer with quick bank authentication and also provides easy way to setup automatic savings.

  4. Summary page delivers the overall picture of the portfolio as soon user logs in with amount invested and amount earned figures for the allocation model selected.

  5. Activity page gives the monthly activity like composition of various securities purchases. Below is the composition for securities for my initial deposit with allocation model set to 100% stocks.

  6. I used their advise tool to change my allocation and it was easy to use compared to TRoweprice and other investment companies tools I come across. As a guy who passed CFP exam, I have seen some complication diversification strategies but this one makes it easier for ordinary consumer. It allows to set you goals and name it as well to identify them accordingly.

  7. I like the quick and dirty performance charts with comparison options to keep us updated on the analysis section.



DISLIKES

  1. The important thing missing is better user security. In this day and age where identity theft is all over the place, any financial sites like this one should have more security to make users secured. They need to improve their user authentication process to follow the federally mandated security procedures to add more steps in user login. Most of the investment companies these days needs more than just username and password.  I did notice they have session time out feature which alerts if the session is idle of for few minutes which is good.

  2. They limit setting only one goal for an account. May be they can take this to another level by allowing users to add different goals and set allocation to those accordingly and split their deposit to those goals monthly. That would be good one for people who multiple long term goals.

  3. It would be better to show the current portfolio allocation/diversification on the Allocation page instead of just giving them in activity page. 

Over all, likes out weighs the dislikes and I should say I am really satisfied choosing to go with betterment.com as my another vehicle to save for retirement goal. I hope they keep their promise by diversifying the portfolio regularly by adding more ETF’s to keep returns coming to our portfolio. I am little skeptical about their long term survival but if I can guess the future with past knowledge, these smaller investment companies are good take over candidates by bigger fishes which sometimes spoils the party.

We just have to wait and watch…

Happy Investing!!

Betterment.com – Smart and Better way to Invest for your future

We have stocks, bonds, options, commodities and so much more vehicle to invest for our future financial goals. But we need time to analyze, research to invest in them and more time needed to even get diversifed portfolio. Then came mutual funds which carry tons of pre-packed securities and funds which is already diversified to cater various consumer needs. Still that takes time, knowledge and effort to anlayze, compare and find which one is better than other one for different goals. Nothing is easy and straightforward.

Now there are companies like Funds.com, Betterment.com which takes investment to different level using technology and making things easier than ever to help ordinary consumers. I came across Betterment.com from mymoneyblog.com and just signed up. Being an IT guy, I was totally attracted by their user friendly website which makes investing like walk in the park. 




As I can tell from their tool, they cater to day to day people. Most people acknowledge that they want to be doing something smarter with their savings, but selecting investments and maintaining investment accounts is a hassle. People are paralyzed by the complexity of making the right decisions with their money. With easy tools like Betterment.com, it really helps them make decision faster and grow their money without worrying to know lot about investing.


What’s the difference between Betterment and other companies?

This is what they claim as per their website. There are plenty of investment products out there for active traders, the super-wealthy, and institutions, but not anything built for the doctors, lawyers, teachers, and so on who we know in our everyday lives. Betterment is the first investment product built for people: it’s like wealth management for the rest of us.



Betterment was created to make investing as easy and straightforward as it ought to be.
We’ve done a lot of work in order to develop the best investing platform possible, and we want our research and analysis to be readily available to our customers as well as anyone interested in developing a more robust understanding of investing today.


How do you decide what investment allocation is right for you?

Like how the 
SEC puts it:

The answer depends on when you will need the money, your goals, and if you will be able to sleep at night if you purchase a risky investment where you could lose your principal.


That is, there are three important things to think about. First, when do you need your money? Second, how do you plan to spend the money?  And Third, how comfortable are you with the possibility that you might not be able to afford your goal?

With Betterment.com, it is simple to sign up and set up your allocation. They have neat Advisor tool which helps to quickly select your Horizon, Goal and Risk tolerance levels ane help make the decision to allocate your funds. It is totally insured by SIPC like any other investment company. You can put your account into auto mode which auto-withdraw from your bank like other investment companies and purchases securites as per you portfolio allocation. They only deal with Treasury bonds and Stock ETF’s and don’t hassle with individual stocks and risky funds.


Charges


Betterment’s fee is a straightforward 0.3% to 0.9%, depending on your balance. For balances under $25,000 the fee is just 0.9% annually. The portion of balances over $25,000 will be charged 0.7% annually, the portion of balances over $100,000 will be charged just 0.5% annually, and the portion of balances over $500,000 will be charged at 0.3% annually.


$25 Free Bonus

Currently they are offering $25 free bonus for anyone who opens an account with $250 minimum. Give it a try and let me know your experience.

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