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Betterment Review 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Robo-advisor Betterment uses exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and a high degree of automation to manage your portfolio. In addition, it’s possible to speak with financial professionals to receive more tailored advice on retirement and other financial goals.

Investors most likely to benefit from Betterment include beginning investors hoping for a low barrier to entry, as well as intermediate investors who are interested in keeping a portion of their portfolio in set-it-and-forget-it accounts. Investors interested in trading individual stocks or taking a more hands-on approach aren’t likely to benefit as much from Betterment.

Visit BettermentSecuredon Betterment’s secure site
The bottom line: Betterment is great for investors looking to get started with minimum fuss — and who aren’t interested in active trading.

  • Easy to get started
  • Set up different investing goals
  • Benefit from tax optimization

Who should consider Betterment

Betterment is for investors who would like an automated approach to investing. Anyone can benefit from Betterment, but it’s especially helpful for beginner investors hoping to start growing their wealth.

Because of the low barrier to entry — there are no account minimums and you can get started with a minimum deposit of $10 — it’s possible for almost anyone to begin investing.

It’s also a great resource for intermediate investors looking to accomplish different goals with “buckets” of money. With Betterment, it’s possible to set varying levels of risk for different goals, with different asset allocations based on when you’re likely to need the money.

Finally, intermediate and advanced traders can use Betterment to build a long-term retirement portfolio, although there is no active trading. Betterment offers a place for assets to grow over longer periods at a pace that is likely to track the market as a whole.

Consider your goals and what you hope to accomplish with your investment portfolio. While Betterment can potentially be a good choice for anyone who keeps a portion of their portfolio in long-term assets, it’s not ideal for those who prefer to actively manage their portfolios or engage in active trading.

Betterment fees and features

Amount minimum to open account
  • $0
Management fees
  • 0.25% for Digital offering (no minimum account balance)
  • 0.40% for Premium offering ($100,000 minimum account balance)
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 full account transfer fee
  • $0 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Current promotions

Three months free for new customers who are referred by an existing Betterment account holder

Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Trust
  • 12 asset classes represented in ETF portfolio
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, Email

Betterment management fees

Betterment’s pricing starts with a 0.25% management fee for the basic Digital account. This pricing is in line with other robo-advisors like Wealthfront, which also charges 0.25%.

Balances above $100,000 earn Betterment’s Premium account status, featuring unlimited access to personalized advice for a management fee of 0.40%. This isn’t out of line with other robo-advisors: Wealthsimple charges 0.40% for account balances above $100,000. Wealthfront, however, maintains the 0.25% management fee, no matter the size of your account. Once your balance reaches $2 million, your fee drops to 0.15%.

In addition to regular management fees, it’s also important to note that you’ll pay expense ratios on the ETFs Betterment selects on your behalf. Betterment’s recommended portfolios feature expense ratios of 0.07% to 0.15%. According to Betterment, this is much lower than the industry average.

Finally, there are additional fees if you want access to specialized financial planning. If you have $100,000 or more invested with Betterment, you get access to these services as part of your annual management fee. However, if your balance is lower, you pay a flat fee for financial advice ranging between $199 and $299 per advisory session.

Betterment portfolio options and portfolio management

Betterment chooses an investment portfolio for you based on your goals and time horizon. The core portfolio includes stock and bond ETFs allocated in a way that helps you reach your goals. It’s also possible to tweak your asset allocation in your account.

In addition, Betterment offers different portfolio options based on specific goals and targets. Here are some of the additional choices available with Betterment:

  • Socially Responsible Investing (SRI): This portfolio focuses on reducing exposure to companies that have a negative social impact. The expense ratio is a little higher with these portfolios, around 0.14% to 0.22%, depending on the allocation within the portfolio.
  • BlackRock Target Income Portfolio: Aimed at retirees, this portfolio is designed to provide a regular income stream. The portfolio focuses on bond investments that offer dividends that can be used for income rather than focusing on principal and capital appreciation.
  • Goldman Sachs Smart Beta Portfolio: Rather than using basic asset allocation principles, this portfolio focuses on assets that possess four characteristics considered to drive performance — strong momentum, good value, low volatility and high quality. It’s possible to adjust this portfolio in 101 different ways.

With all portfolios, Betterment handles automatic rebalancing when your assets experience a certain amount of drift. For example, if market performance is resulting in an asset allocation that is too far outside the target for your portfolio, Betterment will sell and buy different assets to bring your portfolio back to its target.

Another way Betterment automatically manages your portfolio is by using tax optimization strategies. Different assets are assigned to your accounts based on their overall tax efficiency. Additionally, when certain assets lose value, Betterment will sell them automatically in an effort to offset capital gains in other areas. With the help of the Tax Loss Harvesting+ feature, rebalancing can occur daily.

Betterment financial planning features

If you want a big-picture view of your finances, Betterment’s account sync feature can be helpful. With this feature, you connect some or all of your outside accounts to Betterment, which lets you view all of your financial information in one place. The app then offers personalized recommendations for managing your money.

You have the option to speak with Betterment financial professionals about planning for specific goals and life milestones. Account holders above the $100,000 balance requirement get unlimited access to personalized advice and help by phone and email as part of the management fee.

If you don’t meet this threshold, you can pay for advice packages tailored to the goals you’re working on. Here are some of the Betterment advice packages available for a flat fee:

  • Getting Started: A 45-minute phone call with a certified financial planner (CFP) who can provide step-by-step help setting up a Betterment account that helps you maximize a variety of goals. Price: $199.
  • Financial Checkup: Get a review of your investment portfolio and how it fits into your financial situation in a 60-minute call with a Certified Financial Planner. Price: $299.
  • College Planning: Aimed at families who want help getting set up for college costs and using higher education plans. It consists of a 60-minute phone call that can help you review your choices and decide what’s best for you. Price: $299.
  • Marriage Planning: Planning to tie the knot soon? Get help as you navigate goals, priorities and merging finances in a 60-minute phone call. Price: $299.
  • Retirement Planning: Set up a 60-minute holistic review of your portfolio, current situation and more that can help you make better decisions for your retirement. Price: $299.

The Betterment Advisor Network can also help you get your own dedicated financial advisor who can help you with almost any financial need. Betterment will help match you with a professional who is likely to fit your goals and priorities.

Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve Account

Betterment offers Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured banking options. While the checking account isn’t universally available yet, it is possible to use Everyday Cash Reserve to earn up to 1.78% APY. Additionally, there are no limits on withdrawals and no minimum balance. You also don’t have to worry about paying fees on your balance. The money in your Everyday Cash Reserve account is actually held at partner banks — it’s possible to opt out of a specific partner bank, if you wish.

In addition to providing a high-yield savings option, you can also decide to use the Two-Way Sweep feature. With this feature, Betterment automatically analyzes a connected account each day and will move excess cash from your connected account and into your savings account. If you need the money back in your main account, Betterment will sweep it from your Everyday Cash Reserve account without the need to take further action on your part.

Strengths of Betterment

Betterment is always adding new goals and features. Here are some of the most helpful features it currently offers:

  • Tax optimization: Betterment uses tax loss harvesting to help offset taxes on your gains. The company also uses its Tax-Coordinated Portfolio to give you the maximum tax benefit. Certain assets are assigned to your IRA, while others are kept in your taxable accounts.
  • Betterment Everyday: Betterment now offers FDIC-insured checking and savings accounts. While the checking product is still in the roll-out stages, it’s possible to earn up to 1.78% APY with Everyday Cash Reserve.
  • Set up different goals: One of Betterment’s most useful features is the ability to set up different goals. It’s possible to have a traditional IRA and a rollover IRA, as well as open a Roth IRA. It’s also possible to open taxable accounts for a variety of other goals. Set different asset mixes for each type of account and adjust what you add simply and easily.
  • Chance to talk to a human: Betterment offers customer service by phone in addition to email. However, you can also speak with a financial professional with packages starting at $199, depending on what you’re looking for. It’s also possible to be matched with an advisor if you meet the requirements for access to the Betterment Advisor Network.
  • Portfolio projection tools: Set goals with the help of Betterment’s projection tools and track your progress toward reaching your objectives. Betterment offers insight into whether you’re on track with your goals as well as graphs to help you visualize the potential of your portfolio.

Drawbacks of Betterment

While Betterment is a great choice for many investors, it’s not for everyone. There are some drawbacks, and no Betterment review would be complete without mentioning them.

  • No active trading: If you’re interested in choosing your own investments and actively trading, you won’t be able to do that with Betterment. While you can do a little more self-directed investing with a Premium account, the reality is that you’re mostly limited to choosing your prefered asset mix rather than picking individual investments.
  • Lack of 529 and education savings accounts (ESAs): There are no custodial accounts with Betterment, and you can’t set up a 529 or ESA to save for your child’s education. A similar robo-investing company that does offer a 529 is Wealthfront.

Is Betterment safe?

Anytime you invest, there is a chance you could lose money. Poor market conditions can always lead to a loss. However, Betterment’s use of modern portfolio theory in its asset allocation helps reduce your exposure to risk. Additionally, Betterment carries Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) insurance, protecting each of your Betterment accounts up to $500,000 in the event of a failure by the company. (Note that market losses aren’t covered by SIPC insurance.)

In addition to making sure an investment company is SIPC-insured, you also can use the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck to find out about disclosures and actions, and search the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database. The Better Business Bureau is also a good source of information.

Final thoughts

Betterment is a great choice for beginner investors looking to get their feet wet and for long-term investors hoping to grow a retirement portfolio. For investors with more than $100,000, it can also be a decent place to keep your money if you’re looking for basic advice.

However, for active traders and those who want a little more control over their assets, Betterment might not be the best choice. Instead, it could make more sense to use platforms like E-Trade or Robinhood if you want to get involved with active trading. Stockpile is also a good choice for investors who want to buy individual stocks using fractional shares.

Overall, though, Betterment is a great choice for building wealth for the long term, including setting accounts for specific goals and using tools that help you see if you’re on track to meet your objectives.

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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.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit |

Miranda Marquit is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Miranda here

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Rocket Dollar Review 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Rocket Dollar is a unique investing platform that helps experienced investors add alternative assets to their retirement planning. Through Rocket Dollar, it’s possible to invest in assets such as real estate, private equity and precious metals — as long as they’re approved by the IRS for inclusion in self-directed individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and solo 401(k)s.

It’s important to note that Rocket Dollar is unlike other broker platforms, and it is not a robo-advisor. Instead, Rocket Dollar allows users to fund and manage alternative asset investments in self-directed, tax-advantaged retirement accounts. The platform walks you through the process of setting up a self-directed retirement account, but it’s up to you to identify and then make your own investment decisions.

Rocket Dollar
VISIT ROCKET DOLLARSecuredon Rocket Dollar’s secure site
The Bottom Line: If you’re an experienced investor looking for a way to really diversify your retirement portfolio, Rocket Dollar can help.

    • Rocket Dollar helps you to make investments in alternative assets, such as gold, startups and real estate.
    • It provides portfolio tracking tools to monitor your account’s performance.
    • Rocket Dollar creates an LLC to hold your investments and a transactional bank account.

Who should consider Rocket Dollar

Rocket Dollar is a specialized tool for confident, experienced investors who want to add alternative assets to self-directed IRAs and solo 401(k)s. You can hold traditional stocks and bonds in your Rocket Dollar account, but it’s designed for those who are seeking tax advantages for holding alternative assets allowed by the IRS. Before you invest, it’s a good idea to understand the asset class(es) you plan to hold in your retirement account, because you’re responsible for the investments.

If you’re a hands-off investor and just want a basic retirement account or online brokerage, Rocket Dollar isn’t the ideal choice. Check out our list of the best robo-advisors and the best online brokers instead.

Rocket Dollar fees and features

Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • Core: $15 monthly fee, plus one-time $360 setup fee
  • Gold: $30 monthly fee, plus one-time $600 setup fee
  • $400 in-kind asset transfer
Commission-free ETFs offered
Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered
Offers automated portfolio/robo-advisor
Account types
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Solo 401(k) (for small businesses)
Ease of use
Customer supportPhone, Email

Rocket Dollar pricing

Rocket Dollar has two pricing tiers:

  • Core: This is a basic IRA or solo 401(k) account that allows you to hold a variety of assets. The cost is $15 monthly fee, plus one-time $360 setup fee.
  • Gold: If you want expedited and premium service, the Gold account can provide you with a better experience. The cost is $30 monthly fee, plus one-time $600 setup fee.

A self-directed retirement account can take up to four weeks to open. A Gold account can get the ball rolling a little faster, but it’ll cost you.

Even though Rocket Dollar charges a flat monthly fee and a one-time setup fee instead of an annual percentage of assets under management, you have to be aware of the additional fees that your investment issuers will charge. Rocket Dollar doesn’t provide the assets you invest in, so investment and trading fees will come on top of the monthly fee you pay for the self-directed IRA or solo 401(k). Any expense ratios that come with investment funds also must be paid.

The unique component of Rocket Dollar’s approach is that it creates a Colorado LLC and also a checking account owned by the LLC on your behalf — the setup and monthly fees you pay covers that cost. However, if you have to create additional LLCs, such as one to own property in a specific state, you’re responsible for those fees, too. Self-directed IRAs and solo 401(k)s can be complicated, which is why it’s important to understand what you’re doing or consult with appropriate professional experts to help you to navigate the process.

Rocket Dollar account types

You can open only two types of accounts on Rocket Dollar: a 401(k) or an IRA. Both are self-directed, and they come with Roth options. On top of that, the self-directed IRA comes with the option to open a beneficiary IRA. Rocket Dollar also offers a SEP IRA.

One thing to be aware of with a self-directed retirement account from Rocket Dollar is checkbook control. Checkbook control means that Rocket Dollar sets up a structure whereby you control your portfolio through either an LLC bank account that’s created and held by Rocket Dollar’s preferred bank partner.

It’s important, though, to make sure that everything in a self-directed retirement account is kept separate from your personal finances. Otherwise, the IRS may impose penalties. However, you, the investor, have complete control, because no retirement account custodian reviews any deals, and you won’t be limited to a preapproved list of funds.

Rocket Dollar’s investable asset classes

Rocket Dollar works with third-party firms through which users buy and sell different assets. Rocket Dollar also works with partners that act as custodians for the self-directed IRA. Solera National Bank of Denver and IRAR Trust of La Jolla, California, are the firm’s custodian partners. In a solo 401(k), you buy a plan that’s preapproved by the IRS, and the assets are held in a trust tied to your business or sole proprietorship.

The following asset classes are a challenge for most investors to access. Rocket Dollar makes them much more accessible, thanks to its partner firms.

Many alternative investments come with their own tax requirements and special paperwork allowing them to be held in a tax-advantaged retirement account. Consequently, many retirement account custodians won’t deal with them. However, these are some of the asset classes that the IRS allows you to hold in a self-directed IRA or solo 401(k).

Precious metals

Buying and selling physical precious metal (rather than stocks of mining companies or ETFs that hold metals) for your retirement account comes with limitations, such as requiring a certain degree of purity. Bullion of gold, silver, palladium and platinum, as well as specifically approved coins, can be held in a self-directed retirement account. However, storage can be an issue, because you aren’t allowed to store these assets at your home.

When you use Rocket Dollar’s preferred partner, the U.S. Gold Bureau, for precious metals in your account, it arranges for storage at the Texas Bullion Depository.

Real estate

When investing in real estate for an IRA, you aren’t allowed to hold it in your name. The IRA must be the buyer, and you or your relatives must not live in or use the property. And if repairs have to be made, you must hire a third party to perform the repair. The idea is you’re supposed to be removed from the day-to-day management of property you want in an IRA. Rocket Dollar’s real estate investment partners can help with that.

Early-stage investing and private equity

It’s possible to invest in startups and hold those investments in your self-directed retirement account. This includes access to private tech companies and venture funds. You also can hold expansion loans in your account on Rocket Dollar through its partners.


As with other asset classes, the key to holding cryptocurrencies and other blockchain investments in your self-directed retirement account is keeping it separate from your personal assets per IRS rules. This means that you’ll have to have a separate wallet set up in your IRA or solo 401(k).

Traditional investments

Sure, you can hold stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs in your self-directed retirement account alongside your alternative investments. However, that isn’t really the purpose of Rocket Dollar. Its focus is helping you to hold investments that many traditional custodians won’t allow you to keep in a retirement account.

Strengths of Rocket Dollar

  • Access to alternative investments: Rocket Dollar makes it easier to add alternative investments to a tax-advantaged retirement account in a way that isn’t possible through most traditional providers.
  • Step-by-step help opening a self-directed retirement account: The account setup fee comes with help and guidance in setting up your account, so it’s handled correctly. This includes setting up an LLC for an IRA and providing an IRS-approved plan for a solo 401(k).
  • Expedited options: It can take a long time to get a self-directed retirement account through the bureaucracy. With the Gold account option, you can pay extra to speed the process and get extra service as you navigate the bureaucracy.

Drawbacks of Rocket Dollar

  • Separate fees for everything: No matter what you do, there are fees. Rocket Dollar charges fees as a third-party administrator, including a setup fee to open the account and a monthly compliance fee. Investment issuers have their own fees as well, though it’s up the investor’s discretion whether they want to pay certain fees, such as convenience fees for wire transfers.
  • No additional services: You won’t find tax-loss harvesting, rebalancing or any of the additional services you see with robo-advisors. Instead, you’re entirely on your own regarding your portfolio.

Is Rocket Dollar safe?

Rocket Dollar provides a way for you to access investments. However, Rocket Dollar isn’t a fiduciary, and it doesn’t provide any type of advice. You have to check individuals partners yourself before you move forward to make sure they have the proper insurances and memberships. For example, Rocket Dollar never holds your funds so it doesn’t carry FDIC insurance, but its partner bank does.

The only guarantee Rocket Dollar provides is that if it goes out of business, you’ll be able to transfer your self-directed IRA or solo 401(k) to another provider.

Final thoughts about Rocket Dollar

Rocket Dollar provides a relatively simple way to access alternative investments in a self-directed IRA or solo 401(k). However, it’s important to realize that this isn’t a robo-advisor or an investment manager. If you want a robo-advisor, you should consider Betterment or Wealthfront, but you won’t have access to alternative investments.

If you want more help with managing a self-directed retirement account, you can turn to a wealth manager that specializes in such accounts. For example, Innovative Wealth provides help with managing these types of accounts for those who want to invest in alternative asset classes. However, you might pay higher fees as a result of this more tailored approach.

In the end, Rocket Dollar can be a good choice if you’re confident in your ability to manage your own retirement portfolio and you want a little help streamlining the administration of that portfolio.

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.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit |

Miranda Marquit is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Miranda here

Advertiser Disclosure


Raymond James & Associates Review 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Raymond James & Associates, Inc. offers a full menu of financial planning and investment management services. The firm is based in St. Petersburg, Fla., but it has offices across the country. Its largest client group is individual investors, though the firm also serves a large number of institutional investors, and its comparatively low account minimums for its investing programs make it accessible for a wider range of investors.

All information included in this profile is accurate as of December 30th, 2019. For more information, please consult Raymond James & Associates website.

Assets under management: $203,946,597,149
Minimum investment: $5,000 to $2 million, depending on investing program; no minimum for financial planning or consulting
Fee structure: Percentage of AUM based on program and portfolio size; hourly fees; fixed fees; commissions
Headquarters: 880 Carillon Parkway
St. Petersburg, FL 33176

Overview of Raymond James & Associates

Raymond James & Associates (often just referred to as Raymond James) is wholly owned by Raymond James Financial, Inc. The parent company of Raymond James is publicly held and has been a registered broker-dealer since 1962. However, the investment advisor registration didn’t come about until 1974.

According to the most recent filings, Raymond James has more than $200 billion in assets under management (AUM). Raymond James is set up so it has offices throughout the country, with investment advisors and wealth managers who are affiliated with the company while running their own practices.

However, Raymond James does have 10,745 employees, 4,217 of which are investment advisors. Additionally, 5,988 employees are registered to represent broker-dealers.

What types of clients does Raymond James serve?

While Raymond James does serve high net worth individuals, the vast majority of its clients are individuals without a high net worth. According to the SEC, a high net worth individual is someone who has at least $750,000 managed by a firm, or whose net worth a firm “reasonably believes” exceeds $1.5 million.

In addition to serving individuals, the company also offers services to banking institutions, pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and governments. Additionally, Raymond James also serves corporations and businesses.

For the most part, it’s possible to get started using Raymond James with a minimum investment of $5,000 for certain programs. Other programs require a minimum of $100,000 or $200,000, and you might even need at least $2 million in assets under management to access certain strategies.

However, for consumers looking for financial planning or consulting services, there is no minimum requirement. Basically, the minimum is dependent on the type of program or portfolio used. However, there is room for an individual advisor to set different account minimums and fees, and there might be some variance from advisor to advisor. Check with a local advisor to see what’s required.

Services offered by Raymond James

Raymond James & Associates offers a variety of services related to wealth management and financial planning. Advisors with the company offer managed account programs designed for different levels of investing and that come with varying degrees of personalization.

For managed accounts, there is an opportunity for investors to receive management from individual firms or money managers for more customized results. Raymond James also has model portfolios that can be applied to individuals.

Raymond James also offers financial planning and consulting services, designed to help clients create a road map for the future.

Services offered by Raymond James include:

  • Investment advising
  • Portfolio management
  • Insurance
  • Financial planning
    • Estate planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Long-term care
    • Longevity planning
    • Social Security planning
    • Education planning
    • Caring for aging parents
    • Dependent special needs planning
    • Charitable giving
    • Business and succession planning
  • Trusts and trust management
  • Document review and preparation
  • Investment banking
  • Concentrated equity management
  • Business retirement plans

How Raymond James invests your money

When creating a strategy for client portfolios, advisors take into account a client’s goals as well as their risk tolerance. During consultations, advisors are expected to look at a client’s liquidity needs and tax situation as well.

To analyze investments for clients, Raymond James encourages its advisors to consider:

  • Fundamental analysis: This looks at different aspects of a company, like financial statements and management, and compares them to their sectors and the market as a whole to determine value.
  • Charting analysis: This uses mathematical formulas to look for patterns when analyzing price and trading volume for a specific equity. The information can be displayed in chart form, which can be studied for information about potential moves in the future.
  • Technical analysis: This looks at past performance based on prices and trends, allowing advisors to get an idea of security and market possibilities.
  • Cyclical analysis: This is a type of technical analysis that revolves around looking for recurring trends in the market and in a security. It can include seasonality or even multiyear cycles.

After using analysis tools in conjunction with a consideration of client goals and risk tolerance, Raymond James advisors are expected to put together investment strategies that employ different tactics. In general, these strategies include a number of different securities, including small and large cap stocks and fixed income instruments like bonds, mutual funds and ETFs. In addition to these more common securities, Raymond James advisors can also use commodities and real estate in portfolio management, as well as recommend various options strategies.

It’s also possible to take advantage of asset allocation strategies using different types of managed accounts. These strategies might include growth, which focuses on more aggressive investments designed to boost a client’s portfolio or income, which is designed to generate relatively stable sources of revenue. Model portfolio trades can be made at the discretion of the money manager after the model has been approved by the client.

Fees Raymond James charges for its services

For the most part, Raymond James uses a tiered fee schedule based on a percentage of assets under management to charge clients for its services. It’s important to note that there are different programs and minimums with various assets used by Raymond James.

Consulting Services and Eagle High Net Worth Accounts*
Assets under management Equity, balanced and ETF portfolios Fixed-income portfolios Laddered bonds and short-term conservative portfolios
Up to $1 million 2.75% 2.55% 2.45%
$1 million up to $2 million 2.50% 2.30% 2.20%
$2 million up to $5 million 2.25% 2.05% 1.95%
$5 million up to $10 million 2.00% 1.80% 1.70%
$10 million and up 1.75% 1.55% 1.45%
*To use a short-term conservative portfolio, you need a $2 million minimum investment. For equity and balanced accounts, the minimum is generally $100,000, with a $200,000 minimum for fixed-income accounts.

In addition to asset-based fees, some clients can pay a per-transaction fee for certain trades:

  • Equity and ETF: 0.60%
  • Fixed-income: 0.40%
  • Laddered bonds and short-term: 0.25%
Freedom UMA Program*
Assets under management All strategies (except institutional) Institutional strategies
Up to $1 million 2.60% 2.50%
$1 million up to $2 million 2.35% 2.25%
$2 million up to $5 million 2.10% 2.00%
$5 million up to $10 million 1.85% 1.75%
$10 million and up 1.60% 1.50%
*The minimum investment requirement for these types of accounts is usually $300,000, although there are some portfolios that require at least $2 million for investment.
Multiple Discipline and Research Portfolios*
Up to $1 million 2.60%
$1 million up to $2 million 2.35%
$2 million up to $5 million 2.10%
$5 million up to $10 million 1.85%
$10 million and up 1.60%
*Depending on the program, you might need to meet a $100,000 or $300,000 minimum to invest.
Outside Manager Program*
Up to $1 million 2.25%
$1 million up to $2 million 2.00%
$2 million up to $5 million 1.75%
$5 million up to $10 million 1.50%
$10 million and up 1.25%
*While account minimums are usually $100,000 or $200,000, some managers might have higher minimums that clients are required to meet.
Freedom, American Funds and Russell Model Programs*
Up to $1 million 2.25%
$1 million up to $2 million 2.00%
$2 million up to $5 million 1.75%
$5 million up to $10 million 1.50%
$10 million and up 1.25%
*Depending on the program, clients can expect to need either $5,000 or $25,000 to open an account.
Ambassador Program*
Up to $1 million 2.25%
$1 million up to $2 million 2.00%
$2 million up to $5 million 1.75%
$5 million up to $10 million 1.50%
$10 million and up 1.25%
*These accounts require a $25,000 minimum investment.

Other fees that clients might incur include additional management fees, as well as expense ratios for mutual funds and ETFs.

Additionally, there might be account fees established for different types of accounts. For example, there’s an annual maintenance fee of up to $50 for certain types of accounts, like a retirement account. Other accounts, like guardianship accounts, have fees of up to $150 per year. Depending on the account, there might also be setup fees and processing fees.

Raymond James also utilizes wrap fee programs, which essentially put everything into one bundled fee. The Eagle program for high net worth clients uses a wrap fee, as set out above. In many cases, the wrap fee charged by Raymond James includes brokerage services as well as other services. There are other bundled services offered by Raymond James, and, depending on the situation, could cost more or less than getting them separately.

Finally, Raymond James does allow for the negotiation of advisory fees and commissions. So, you can work with your advisor to find something that works for you. It’s important to speak with a financial advisor about the fees so that you understand what you’re paying for.

Raymond James highlights

  • Provides a wide range of services: Raymond James could essentially be a one-stop shop for many clients. With the wide range of services available from investment management to financial planning, it’s possible to have almost every aspect of your money taken care of here.
  • No minimum for financial planning services: For those who just want help with financial planning, there is no account minimum. This makes these services accessible to all levels of investors.
  • Relatively low minimums for investment services: Compared to many other financial advisor firms, Raymond James has relatively low account minimum requirements. The lowest minimum required to open an account with Raymond James is just $5,000, though certain accounts require higher minimum investments.
  • Hundreds of locations: Raymond James has hundreds of locations across the country, sometimes more than one in an area. If you would like to sit down with someone in person, it should be easy to find an office.

Raymond James downsides

  • Fees can add up: Account management and setup fees can start to add up. Additionally, a client needs to have a high account balance in order to get a break on management fees. For example, the first fee break doesn’t come until you reach $1 million in assets under management. To get a much lower fee, you’d need $10 million.
  • Complicated fee structure: Because there are different products and services, the fee structure at Raymond James can get complicated. For example, there’s a different fee depending on whether you use a fixed income or an equity strategy. Add in multiple tiers for fees, and it can become difficult to determine how much you may be paying in total.
  • Disciplinary disclosures: While some of the firm’s disclosures aren’t especially notable, some of the issues, like compliance and disclosing commissions, might raise red flags for some potential clients.

Raymond James disciplinary disclosures

This firm has several disciplinary disclosures, which is not entirely uncommon for a firm of this nature, size and age. However, some of the disclosures are worth noting before deciding to move forward with an account.

In 2011, there were some irregularities with auction-rate securities, but Raymond James has since made efforts to compensate clients, as well as pay fines amounting to $1.75 million to state regulators (the SEC didn’t impose a fine).

Other disciplinary disclosures include those related to Raymond James & Associates failing to disclose some of the commissions paid to some of its managers, resulting in a fine of $3 million to the SEC and restitution to clients of more than $11 million, as well as interest totaling more than $1 million. Raymond James didn’t admit to or deny the findings and has undergone a review of its practices.

Additionally, there are several disciplinary disclosures stemming from allegations from FINRA related to various issues, including maintaining inaccurate books, an automated commission schedule that might not have been fair, the failure to promptly execute some trading orders, the disclosure of client personal information to third parties, pricing issues and compliance issues.

The New York Stock Exchange also issued disciplinary findings related to Raymond James’s options trading, as well as some of its pricing and clearing practices.

Raymond James onboarding process

Working with Raymond James starts with finding an advisor in your area. Enter your ZIP code or search for a specific advisor on the firm’s website, and you’ll be directed to a location near you.

Once that’s done, you can set up an appointment to meet with an advisor who can help you create your account, or see which services you’re interested in.

The bottom line: Is Raymond James & Associates right for you?

Raymond James can be a solid choice if you want help with all aspects of your financial planning and investment management with relative accessibility. Minimum investment requirements for managed accounts start at $5,000, which can be accessible for many levels of investors. Additionally, financial planning help is available for just about any situation. If you want in-person, individualized help, Raymond James can be an affordable choice.

However, it’s important to note that you might need to be on your toes. The firm’s fees can become confusing, and there are quite a few of them. Additionally, the firm’s past disciplinary issues related to commission disclosure and notations for issues related to unfair pricing practices might require you to take a second look before moving forward.

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Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit |

Miranda Marquit is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Miranda here