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Investing, Reviews

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios Review 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios is a robo-advisor option from a trusted online-only financial institution.

It can make managing your money simple: Just answer a few basic questions about your goals and risk tolerance and your funds are invested for you. However, you’ll need a big chunk of change to get started thanks to a high minimum balance requirement. And, while fees are competitive, they aren’t the lowest among other robo-advisors’ offerings.

If you have the $2,500 minimum deposit necessary to open an Ally Invest Managed Portfolio, you don’t mind not getting a bonus for opening the account, and you want to take a hands-off approach to building wealth, Ally Invest may be a good option.

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios
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The Bottom Line: Ally Invest Managed Portfolios is a decent robo-advisor that’s competitive with other managed portfolios online. But its high minimum balance, lack of tax-loss harvesting, and fees that slightly exceed competitors may prompt you to look elsewhere if you’re not already an Ally customer.

  • The minimum deposit to invest in Ally Invest Managed Portfolios is $2,500
  • The management fee is 0.30%, no matter how high your account balance
  • Customer service is available 24/7, but there are no local branches to visit

Who should consider Ally Invest Managed Portfolios?

If you’re looking for a robo-advisor that allows you to build a diversified portfolio without a lot of advanced knowledge about investing, Ally Invest Managed Portfolios has you covered.

You’ll answer a few questions about your age; timeline for investing and risk tolerance; and whether you’re investing for retirement, wealth-building or a big purchase. Then, Ally Invest comes back with a recommended portfolio you can accept or tweak.

You can open a joint, custodial or individual taxable account with Ally Invest Managed Portfolios, or can opt for a traditional IRA, Roth IRA or rollover IRA. Unfortunately, unlike with Ally Invest’s self-directed accounts, there’s no promotion or bonus for transferring funds into a managed portfolio. And, you’ll need quite a bit of money to get started — more than many competitors in the robo-advisor industry require.

Still, if you don’t mind a bigger initial deposit or a lack of physical branches, Ally Invest is a worthy competitor to consider when looking for help managing your money.

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios fees and features

Account minimum
  • $2,500
Management fees
  • 0.30%
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $50 full account transfer fee
  • $50 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Custodial Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA)
Portfolio
  • Ally managed portfolios cover 3 asset classes and 9 major market segments
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Tax loss harvesting detailNo tax-optimized portfolios are currently offered but Ally plans to roll out tax loss harvesting in 2019.
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android, Windows Phone
Customer supportPhone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email

Strengths of Ally Invest Managed Portfolios

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios has some significant advantages worth considering:

  • Investing in a diversified portfolio is easy. You’ll answer basic questions about your investment goals and Ally Invest will suggest a portfolio with an appropriate mix of U.S. and foreign bonds, international and U.S. stocks, and cash. You can also tweak the suggestions Ally Invest Managed Portfolios makes, so you take on more or less risk based on your comfort level.
  • Ally Invest Managed Portfolios offers a full-featured online website. You can view all your accounts with Ally under one login—- although managed and self-directed portfolios are kept separate. And Ally’s online goal tracker makes it easy to monitor progress so you can see how successful you are at hitting investment goals.
  • Ally Invest Managed Portfolios offers automatic portfolio rebalancing. This helps to ensure you remain invested in the right mix of assets if certain investments under- or over-perform.
  • Customer service. Ally Invest offers phone, email, and chat support. Customer service agents are available 24/7 with little or no wait. Agents will do their best to provide answers, although it may take a little time if your questions are technical since you may need to be transferred to an investment advisor.

Drawbacks of Ally Invest Managed Portfolios

You’ll also want to consider the potential downsides of choosing Ally Invest Managed Portfolios.

  • You need a $2,500 minimum deposit to open your account. This is pretty high for a robo-advisor, especially as competitors such as Betterment have no minimum deposit requirements at all. Of course, $2,500 isn’t the highest in the industry either. E-Trade’s Core Portfolios, for example, requires a $5,000 minimum deposit.
  • Ally Invest Managed Portfolios charges fees that are slightly higher than several competitors. You’ll pay .30% for Ally’s robo-advisor service, compared with .25% for Betterment’s digital account or for Wealthfront.
  • Ally Invest Managed Portfolios currently does not offer tax loss harvesting, which involves selling investments at a loss to offset taxable gains. Competitors such as Betterment do offer this feature. However, Ally representatives indicate tax loss harvesting is expected to be rolled out in 2019 and investors with managed portfolios will be able to transition their accounts into a portfolio with tax loss harvesting.
  • No physical branches. If you’d prefer to go into a branch for local customer support, you’ll need to look elsewhere, such as E-Trade, which has more than 30 branches across the country.
  • Mobile apps aren’t very advanced. While Ally Invest allows you to use mobile apps on iPhone and Android phones to access basic account information, the offered apps aren’t as feature-rich as competitors such as Betterment.

Is Ally Invest Managed Portfolios safe?

Whenever you invest your money, there’s a risk you may lose some or all of it. This is no different with Ally Invest Managed Portfolios. The assets your robo-advisor invests you in could decline in value and your portfolio could lose money.

But Ally Invest is as safe as any trusted online brokerage, and there’s little risk of losing assets if the investment firm goes bankrupt. Ally Invest is in compliance with regulatory requirements according to FINRA’s Broker Check tool. Ally Invest is also a member of the FDIC and SIPC, both of which ensure cash in bank and brokerage accounts respectively.

Final thoughts

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios is a viable choice for investors looking for an easy, hands-off way to invest and seeking responsive customer service. But the $2,500 minimum balance requirement, lack of a promotional offer, higher management fees, and the fact tax loss harvesting isn’t currently offered makes Ally a less-than-ideal option for investors looking for the most affordable way to build a diversified portfolio. If you want a lower-cost option that does offer tax-loss harvesting, consider robo-advisors such as Betterment or Wealthfront.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Christy Rakoczy
Christy Rakoczy |

Christy Rakoczy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Christy here

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Investing, Reviews

E-Trade Core Portfolios Review 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

E-Trade is a known trusted discount online broker, but it also offers something else for individuals who don’t want to manage their investments. Core Portfolios, E-Trade’s version of a robo-advisor, allows you to answer a few simple questions about your investment goals and risk tolerance, and then uses your answers to custom-design a portfolio that’s right for you.

In this E-Trade Core Portfolios review, you’ll see how users can benefit from the helpful customer service and intuitive mobile and online apps E-Trade provides, but also have an appropriate mix of assets selected for them. While there’s a high minimum balance requirement and fees are a bit above what many competitors charge for robo-advising services, E-Trade’s easy-to-use interface makes Core Portfolios a great choice if you want a hands-off approach to investing.

E-Trade Core Portfolios
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The bottom line: You’ll need a lot of money to start investing with E-Trade’s Core Portfolios, but you benefit from how simple this robo-advising service makes it to invest. The key things to know if you’re considering Core Portfolios are:

  • There’s a $5,000 minimum balance requirement to get started.
  • You’ll pay a 0.30% management fee — no matter how much money you invest.
  • E-Trade customizes your investments based on a few simple questions about when you’ll need your funds and how risk-tolerant you are.

Who should consider E-Trade Core Portfolios?

The field of robo-advising is getting crowded, with established discount brokerages like E-Trade now offering alternatives to companies like Wealthfront and Betterment, which provide robo-advising only.

It’s not surprising robo-advising is a popular investing tool. It’s an ideal solution for investors seeking a hands-off approach to diversification and looking for help managing money — but who don’t want to pay significant fees.

While E-Trade is a little costlier than competitors, Core Portfolios may be a good choice if you don’t mind paying a premium for stellar customer service, a simple process for building your portfolio, low-cost investment options, and excellent mobile and online tools to invest and manage your money.

E-Trade Core Portfolios fees and features

Account minimum
  • $5,000
Management fees
  • 0.30%
  • 0
  • 0
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee (however if your account balance falls below $5,000 for an extended period of time, you may be asked to add additional funds)
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $25 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Current promotions

Pay no advisory fee for one year

Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Custodial Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • Custodial IRA
  • SEP IRA
Portfolio
  • E-Trade offers 5 ETFs in the core portfolio.
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Tax loss harvesting detailA tax sensitive investment strategy that uses municipal bond ETFs, which may help to reduce taxes on account interest and dividends.
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 30 branch locations

Strengths of E-Trade Core Portfolios

E-Trade Core Portfolios has some important advantages that make this robo-advisor worth considering. Benefits include:

  • A simple process for picking investments. When you sign up for Core Portfolios, E-Trade makes the process of choosing the right investments simple. You’re asked to choose an individual, joint or custodial taxable account or a retirement account, and to specify when you’ll need the money. Then you’re walked through a series of questions aimed at determining your risk tolerance. E-Trade will recommend a portfolio for you, which you can customize if you desire.
  • Multiple portfolio options full of affordable exchange-traded funds (ETFs.) You’ll have a choice of portfolio options with Core Portfolios, including a Smart Beta Portfolio or a Socially Responsible portfolio. The Smart Beta portfolio puts some of your investments into ETFs aimed at enhancing overall returns, although transaction costs may be higher because of higher turnover. The Socially Responsible portfolio allows you to invest based on your values by limiting investments to companies known for being good corporate citizens. Each portfolio is full of low-cost ETFs, so costs are kept to a minimum.
  • Automatic rebalancing. E-Trade makes hands-off investing easy because your investment portfolio is automatically adjusted to maintain the ideal asset allocation.
  • Excellent customer service. As a Core Portfolios customer, you have access to in-person customer service at more than 30 E-Trade branches. You can also reach out to customer support online via chat or email, or speak with a registered financial consultant via phone. Customer service representatives are friendly and well-informed, and you can talk with someone via online chat within minutes.
  • E-Trade integration. You can easily convert your E-Trade account to a Core Portfolios account. You also have access to E-Trade’s helpful mobile and online apps, which provide educational materials and account information in an intuitive and easy-to-understand format.

Drawbacks of E-Trade Core Portfolios

No E-Trade Core Portfolios review would be complete without discussing the potential disadvantages, including the following:

  • E-Trade has a high minimum balance requirement. You’ll need at least $5,000 to get started, which is significantly higher than competitors. Wealthfront has just a $500 minimum and Betterment has no minimum deposit requirement for its digital account.
  • Higher management fees. E-Trade charges 0.30% in management fees for Core Portfolios. This is higher than the 0.25% charged by Betterment’s basic account and by WealthFront.
  • No tax-loss harvesting: While E-Trade claims to use a tax-sensitive investment strategy, it doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting. Tax-loss harvesting involves selling losing investments in taxable accounts to reduce capital gains taxes paid on investment gains. Many other robo-advisors offer tax loss harvesting as an option, particularly for portfolios with higher investment balances.

Is E-Trade Core Portfolios safe?

E-Trade has been operating as a discount broker for many years and is well-respected. It’s a FINRA member, which means that it’s met licensure and regulatory requirements. It also is both FDIC-insured and a member of SIPC, which means cash in your accounts is protected — up to a certain dollar value — in case E-Trade faces financial trouble.

But when you invest with E-Trade, your money is put into ETFs that could perform well or could perform poorly. Your investments may decline in value, and there’s always a risk to investing in the market. E-Trade tries to match your investment portfolio with your risk profile — if you’re more risk-averse, your money will go toward safer investments. But there is always a danger you’ll lose money when you invest.

You should carefully research investment options to find out if you’re comfortable with E-Trade’s robo-advisor service managing your money.

Final thoughts

Investing in Core Portfolios gives you access to E-Trade’s extensive infrastructure, including local branches and renowned web and mobile apps. Although the minimum balance requirement and management fees are higher than competitors, great customer service and the easy process used to assess your investment risk makes E-Trade Core Portfolios a great choice for investors looking for hands-off solutions.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Christy Rakoczy
Christy Rakoczy |

Christy Rakoczy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Christy here

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Investing

529 Savings Plans by State — Find the Best One for You

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Paying for college is expensive, which is why it’s common for parents or other loved ones to help contribute to a child’s college tuition. One great way to help with college expenses is with a 529 plan. These plans provide tax breaks on the federal and state level for investing in college expenses.

Plan rules will vary by state, but as long students use the funds for qualified educational expenses (QHEEs) — including tuition and mandatory fees — everyone who invests in a 529 college savings plan can make withdrawals without owing federal taxes.

Parents or someone other than the student can also own 529 plans, so the accounts won’t impact financial aid eligibility much. That’s because parents are expected to contribute just a small percentage of their financial accounts to school costs, while students are expected to use around 20% of their assets to pay for school.

This guide to 529 plans by state will help you find the best 529 plans and make informed choices about investing for the future.

Types of 529 plans

There are two types of 529 plans:

  • Prepaid tuition plans allow you to buy tuition credits at today’s rates for participating schools, which are usually state or public colleges and universities. Students must attend one of the schools that accepts the tuition credits to get the full value of the invested money. The invested funds can only be used for tuition, and not room and board.
  • Education savings plans, on the other hand, are accounts opened at financial institutions. Contributed money is invested in assets, such as ETFs or mutual funds.

    Many investors choose target-date funds that automatically put money into a mix of appropriate investments based on when funds are needed. Money can be withdrawn tax-free for QHEEs including tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees paid to any educational institution. Money can even be used to pay for primary and secondary schools, as well as for higher education.

Both plans come with risks. Unless guaranteed by the state, prepaid tuition credits could lose value if the sponsoring institution has financial trouble, while investments in an education savings plan could perform poorly. However, state and federal tax breaks make both plans a good way for families to get a little help in saving for college costs.

How to select a 529 plan

When shopping around for the best 529 plans, it’s important to decide first whether you want a prepaid tuition plan or education savings plan. You’ll also need to find out which plans and benefits are available in your state.

You want your invested funds to go toward college costs, not high plan fees, so comparing expenses is important when considering which 529 college savings plan is right for you. Common fees include:

  • Prepaid tuition plans: Enrollment fees, application fees and administrative fees
  • Education savings plans: Enrollment, application, account maintenance and management fees
  • Education savings plan: Investment fees, which vary depending on selected investments

Finally, you’ll need to look at residency requirements and eligibility rules to make sure the plan you’re interested in is one you can open and invest in, while also receiving tax breaks for investing.

529 college savings plans by state

Education Savings Plans by State
StatePlan NameMinimum ContributionState Tax Benefit
AlabamaCollegeCountsNoneYes
AlaskaThe University of Alaska College Savings Plan$25/month for automatic contribution plans;
$250 for a one-time contribution plan
No
ArizonaArizona Family College Savings Program$15/month for automatic contribution plans;
$50 for a one-time contribution
Yes
ArkansasGIFT 529$10/month for automatic contribution plans;
$25 for a one-time contribution
Yes
CaliforniaScholarShare 529$15 per pay period for automatic contribution plans;
$25 for a one-time contribution
No
ColoradoCollegeInvest$25Yes
ConnecticutConnecticut Higher Education Trust$15 per pay period for automatic contribution plans;
$25 for a one-time contribution
Yes
DelawareDelaware College Investment PlanNoneYes
District of ColumbiaDC 529 College Savings Program$25Yes
FloridaFlorida 529 Savings PlanNoneNo
GeorgiaPath2College 529$25Yes
HawaiiHawaii’s College Savings Program$15No
IdahoIdaho College Savings Program$25Yes
IllinoisBright Start College Savings ProgramNoneYes
IndianaCollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings$10Yes
IowaCollege Savings Iowa 529$25Yes
KansasLearning Quest 529 Education Savings Program$25Yes
KentuckyKentucky Education Savings Plan Trust$25Yes
LouisianaSTART Savings Program$10Yes
MaineNextGen College Investing Plan$25No
MarylandMaryland 529$25/month for automatic contribution plans;
$250 for a one-time contribution
Yes
MassachusettsMassachusetts U Fund College Investing Plan$50Yes
MichiganMichigan Education Savings Program$25Yes
MinnesotaMinnesota College Savings Plan$25Yes
MississippiMississippi Affordable College Savings Program$25Yes
MissouriMOST 529 College Savings PlanNoneYes
MontanaMontana Family Education Savings Program$15/month for automatic contribution plans;
$25 for a one-time contribution
Yes
NebraskaNebraska Education Savings Trust Direct College SavingsNoneYes
NevadaNevada College Savings Plans$15No
New HampshireUNIQUE College Investing PlanNoneNo
New JerseyNJ BEST College Savings Plan$25No
New MexicoThe Education Plan$25Yes
New YorkNew York’s 529 College Savings ProgramNoneYes
North CarolinaCollege Foundation of North Carolina$25No
North DakotaCollege SAVE$25Yes
OhioOhio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings$25Yes
OklahomaOklahoma College Savings$15/month for automatic contribution plans;
$100 for a one-time contribution
Yes
OregonOregon College Savings$25Yes
PennsylvaniaPA 529$25Yes
Rhode IslandCollegeBound SaverNoneYes
South CarolinaFuture ScholarNoneYes
South DakotaCollege Access 529$50/month for automatic contribution plans;
$250 for a one-time contribution from South Dakota residents;
$1,000 for a one-time contribution from residents of other states
No
TennesseeTN Stars$25No
TexasTexas College Savings Plan$25No
Utahmy529NoneYes
VermontVermont Higher Education Investment Plan$15/month for automatic contribution plans;
$25 for a one-time contribution
Yes
VirginiaVirginia inVEST529$25Yes
WashingtonDreamAhead College Investment Plan$25Yes
West VirginiaMART529 WV Direct College SavingsNoneYes
WisconsinEdvest College Savings plan$25Yes
WyomingN/AN/AN/A

529 prepaid tuition plans by state
Not all states have prepaid tuition plans. The following states offer prepaid tuition plans:

Bottom line

Finding the best 529 plan is important to ensure the children you love can afford to attend college. By researching plans in your state and understanding the rules where you live, you can make the most informed choice about which 529 college savings plan is right for you.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Christy Rakoczy
Christy Rakoczy |

Christy Rakoczy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Christy here

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