Two years ago, I wrote an article about how I got into investing. I even shared about my financial portfolio which covers what I invested in. When I shared this article on Seedly’s Facebook page, a few of the members suggested that I should try using Robo-advisors.
What is a Robo-advisor?
As the name itself suggests, Robo-advisor is a digital platform that employs the use of technology to provide financial planning services driven by automation and algorithms. There is little to no human supervision at all. The question here really is, would you trust a ‘robot’ to make financial decisions for you? Or are financial advisors better?
What’s the beauty about Robo-advisors?
It’s easy to use and you can start investing in any amount. You don’t need a lot of money to start investing and you can start investing your Ang Bao (or red packet) money after Chinese New Year is over.
Also, you can withdraw the funds anytime and this is a much better option than accumulating your savings in your bank account which only earns you a mere interest rate of 0.05%.
I tried three popular Robo-advisors in Singapore.
I was a little wary about investing in Robo-advisors because I wasn’t sure if the returns would be any higher or would I end up making a loss. But after reading positive reviews on the various renowned Robo-advisors, I took a leap of faith and jumped into the bandwagon. I started off with StashAway, then followed by Syfe and Endowus, as they seemed to be rather popular among Seedly Community members. Here are my honest reviews of the three Robo-advisors platforms.
StashAway boasts a user-friendly interview which is highly suited for beginners and I have no problem in understanding what are the various investment options they offer. I also find that the fund transfer is quick and their staff respond quickly to any queries I have.
I like that the investment options are highly customisable. You can adjust the risk level for your general investment portfolio. Based on my experience, you should opt for at least an 8% risk index or higher to generate some returns (higher than fixed deposits).
Do note that the portfolio might change slightly from time to time as StashAway employs this smart auto-optimization strategy which re-adjusts the investment portfolio based on the market to attain maximum gains. But you could totally choose to opt-out.
The visuals presented to the user is very clear and easy to understand but they did not specify which equities or stocks they bought.
Their chosen portfolio is diverse and they also include commodities like gold and international equities like China-tech. As the risk is still relatively lower than investing in stocks. All in all, it is a passive form of investing with medium to high risks.
The only qualm is that it is not generating as many returns as Syfe and Endowus unless you are game enough to increase the risk index and leave your cash there to grow for a few years.
Endowus is tailored more for seasoned investors. The platform is not as user or beginner-friendly as StashAway or Syfe. In addition, you will have to pass the Customer Knowledge Assessment test for retail investors which comprises 5 online modules. You can complete the test online for free and you can keep taking the test until you pass it. Thank goodness, it’s free.
It’s not easy. I had to retake the test about 3 to 5 times for each module before I could pass the assessment. Yes, I actually took about a week or so to pass the test. Clearly, Endowus isn’t targeting the newbies. In addition, you will need to invest a minimum of $10,000 in order to open an investment account under Endowus.
Like StashAway, Endowus also offer a diversified investment portfolio. It also gives you the option to choose which particular funds you would like to invest in.
With Endowus, you are also able to invest with your SRS or CPF OA account. So far, it is the only Robo-advisor that allows for the investment of CPF OA funds.
Syfe’s user interface is also quite user-friendly. The fund transfer process takes a while but not as long as Endowus.
They offer four types of investment portfolios namely Cash+, REIT+, Equity100 and Global. I’ve also tried and tested all four types of investment portfolios. Equity100 promises a higher percentage of returns but it is also riskier.
I prefer using Syfe over the other two Robo-advisors as the returns are generally higher based on my own experiences after using Robo-advisors for about a year or so.
Like Endowus, you can find out exactly where your funds go at Syfe. You are able to check how much of your funds are allocated to each of the ETFs.
At this point, it might be too early to say which Robo-advisors generates a higher return since you will need to wait for your invested funds to grow over a few years to see what the returns are like.
But if you ask me which is my preferred Robo-advisor, I would say Syfe in a heartbeat. It suits my investment risk profile better. Syfe also appeals to me so much more than the other two Robo-advisors because of the higher returns generated.
Endowus is my next preferred Robo-advisor. The returns generated are quite good as well. It’s a better investment platform for you to invest your SRS funds or CPF OA funds.
If you’re new to Robo-advisors, here are some tips.
1. Read and research thoroughly before you invest.
Before setting up a Robo-advisor account, it’s best that you do some reading and research on such moderate to high-risk investments.
2. Robo-advisors don’t help you make money for free.
Do also note that a part of your investment returns goes into paying the management fees. To me, their management fees (usually below 1%) across the various Robo-advisors don’t vary much. It’s definitely lower than investment advisors or managers who often charge 2 to 3% management fees.
3. Invest your savings on a monthly basis instead of leaving it to accumulate in your bank account.
Here’s a word of advice: it’s better to practise dollar-cost averaging strategy here. So instead of transferring one lump sum to Robo-advisors, you’re better off earning more when you transfer on a weekly or monthly basis. Dollar-cost averaging strategy can be a really powerful strategy to generate high returns especially if you are looking into long-term investments.
4. Invest in amounts which you are able to risk losing.
All in all, Robo-advisors works great for investors who want to diversify their investment portfolio or for passive beginner investors who are ready to take some risk and do not mind losing some of the initial capital. If the market doesn’t perform well, you might end up losing some of your capital. (That is what I encountered in early 2020 when the pandemic hits the world.)
Ready to go onboard to invest your money via Robo-advisors?
You can use the referral code below to save some bucks.
StashAway: Get $10,000 SGD managed for free for 6 months when you use the referral code < M6JPRDV3 >.
Syfe referral code: SRPSLPQKF (zero fees for 3 months on their first $30,000 investment)