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Robo-Adviser Evolves with a Human Touch

Betterment will now offer three different plans including a premium option offering investors access to licensed financial experts who can offer advice and monitor their accounts year round.

By Javier Simon editors@assetinternational.com | January 31, 2017

Betterment, an online investment adviser and recordkeeper, announced that it is moving beyond its single digital product to offer multi-plan advice that includes access to CFP professionals and licensed financial experts. These individuals will monitor clients’ accounts, answer questions, and provide advice.

The firm’s three plans are now Betterment Digital, Betterment Plus and Betterment Premium.

Betterment Digital will offer investors the firm’s digital advice offering which utilizes tax-focused algorithms. With Betterment Digital, clients receive an annual planning call from a team of CFP professionals and licensed financial experts, who also monitor their accounts throughout the year. Betterment Premium offers unlimited access to financial experts who monitor accounts, while also providing advice and financial planning tips year round.

Betterment says it will now charge a flat 0.25% fee for its Digital plan, 0.40% for the Plus offering, and 0.50% for the Premium offering. The Plus plan requires a $1,000 minimum balance, and the Premium plan requires a $250,000 minimum balance. For all three plans, Betterment's fees are charged only on the first $2 million of an account’s balance. Betterment will waive its management fee on any assets above $2 million.

"I joined Betterment because it was a chance to help get financial advice in the hands of more Americans- millions of Americans," says Alex Benke, CFP, vice president of financial advice and investing at Betterment. "As a traditional financial planner, you can only serve a few hundred clients at most. Through the last five years at Betterment, I've learned that while most Americans really need financial advice, not everyone wants it in the same way. Some never want to talk to a person. Some need help from time to time, and others need careful, ongoing guidance. About a year ago, we set out to broaden and deepen our human-delivered advice offering, while making it more accessible. Our vision is to be your one-stop-shop for financial advice, available in whatever form or frequency you require, and always in your best interest, as a fiduciary."

Betterment’s announcement comes shortly after the firm spoke with PLANADVISER about how fiduciary-focused regulations, changing consumer demands and other trends are keeping it eager to challenge major recordkeepers.

"At Betterment, we promise to always act in the best interests of our customers,” says Jon Stein, founder and CEO of Betterment. “From the beginning, we've built what our customers have asked us to prioritize, and what would have the biggest impact for them. Now, with our Plus and Premium plans, we can give customers the best of both worlds: our smarter technology and access to licensed financial experts."

Betterment offers a globally diversified portfolio of index-tracking exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with personalized advice. It services the defined contribution space through Betterment for Business, an integrated 401(k) recordkeeping and advice platform.