AssetBuilder is an advisor-assisted robo-advisor. While algorithms are relied on to inform investments, trades, and rebalancing, they are executed by a team of human advisors. They offer professional guidance along with the lower fees associated with robo-advisors.
AssetBuilder has registered Assets Under Management of $732 million and 2,676 accounts. With an average account size of approximately $273,500, it is quite a bit above the average robo account. Taxable accounts, trusts, and IRA/Roth IRAs are offered.
Fees and Investing
The minimum investment is $50,000, which will put you on the high side of their fee scale at 0.45%. The low side of the scale sits at 0.2% for a $20 million investment. Other fees include trade costs, which will set you back $240-$280 at account opening, but decrease in following years.
While you can always access the team of investment advisors by phone or email, you won’t have someone assigned specifically to your account. AssetBuilder leaves planning up to individual investors. By unbundling financial planning from its offering, it reduces the cost of investing when compared to traditional investment managers.
You’ll be matched with a portfolio by providing your initial investment amount, timeline, recurring monthly investment amount, and your appetite for risk. After adjusting the settings to your liking based on projected returns, you can settle on the portfolio that you’d like to invest in.
Then you fill out a form with basic contact information, employment information and account type. After you submit the form, you wait for a representative to contact you to approve and set up your account.
What you get
The portfolios are made up of Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) mutual funds. DFA is the brainchild of David Booth, the eponymous Booth of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. DFA offers an approach similar to indexing, but with a rigorous academic tweak, where they take into account financial science and economic theory to gain an edge over index funds.
AssetBuilder offers eight different portfolio options composed of six asset classes: Fixed Income, Real Estate, International, Emerging Markets, U.S. Large and U.S. Small. The portfolios are automatically rebalanced when asset allocations deviate from preset percentages. Tax-loss harvesting isn’t offered. According to an article by co-founder Scott Burns found on the website, tax-loss harvesting only puts off taxes to a later date in the worst cases, and isn’t worth the expense of paying for in the best cases.
In addition to the live support from the advisor team, there is a resource section called the Knowledge Center. It provides videos, white papers, articles and other resources to help investors understand and stay informed of investment strategy. The content can be accessed without an account on the AssetBuilder website.
The high minimum of AssetBuilder will keep out most investors. However, its low-cost approach to portfolio management combined with dedication to the DFA methodology is something to keep an eye on, as evidenced by the extraordinarily high average investments.
If you have the money and are a savvy enough investor, or are just looking at cutting down your financial management costs, AssetBuilder might be the place to park your wealth.