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SoFi Wealth Review 2019

4.3 4 stars · Sep 2019

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What is SoFi Wealth?

SoFi Wealth logo

SoFi or Social Finance is a US-based fintech startup founded in 2009. SoFi Wealth or Automated Investing is SoFi’s robo-advisory service launched in 2013. It is regulated by top-tier regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Besides SoFi Wealth, you can use SoFi Invest which is SoFi's zero-commission brokerage service.

 

SoFi Wealth is recommended for US customers looking for zero-commission service with advisory support and ultra-low initial deposit requirement.

 

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
SoFi Wealth pros and cons

Pros

  • Zero-commission robo-advisory service

  • Fast and reliable customer service

  • Easy and fully digital account opening with $1 required minimum deposit

Cons

  • Limited options for portfolio personalization

  • Only bank transfer is available for deposit and withdrawal

  • Available only in the US

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
Fees ★★★★★

SoFi Wealth charges no commission which is great. There are no deposit and withdrawal fees as well.

Which fees you should take into account for robo-advisors? You can see a handy summary of relevant fees here:

Robo-advisor fees explained
Definitions Description
Investment fees Robo-Service fee Fee is charged by the robo-advisor for managing the account. This fee is charged annually based on how much you have invested in a particular account. Sometimes it is called a Management fee.
Other investment fees Those fees which are not charged directly by the robo-advisor. The most important fee is the ETF management fee which depends on the ETFs the robo-advisor invests in.
Non-investment fees Other fees that could be charged based on your funding activities, like fees for deposit & withdrawal fees, FX conversion.

Worth mentioning is that personal advisory services, when the robo-advisor's experts advise on how to allocate the assets, have higher Robo-Service fee.

We also compared SoFi Wealth's fees with those of two similar robo-advisors we selected, Betterment and Wealthsimple. This selection is based on factors like products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc.

Let's start with the investment fees.

Investment fees 

For the better comparison of robo-advisors' Robo-Service and other investment fees, we calculated two benchmark fees, an annual fee for both basic and premium services.

We made this separation because robo-advisors usually offer multiple tiers of their service which differ in fees, minimum investment, and personal advisory.

  • Basic service usually includes a discount or zero fees, low minimum investment, and limited personal advisory services.

  • Premium service usually includes higher fees, higher minimum investment, and an option for personal advisory.

We calculated benchmark fees by our research both for basic and premium services using $30,000 account balance for basic and $100,000 for premium accounts.  

SoFi Wealth's basic service is free. Premium service is not provided. 

SoFi Wealth annual fees benchmarked
  SoFi Wealth Betterment Wealthsimple
Basic account's annual fees $0 $108 $210
Premium account's annual fees Premium service not available $510 $600

It's very unique that SoFi Wealth doesn't charge any Robo-Service fee and all fees for investing in ETFs are covered.

Non-investment fees

SoFi Wealth has low non-investment fees. It has no account, deposit, or withdrawal fees. It is similar to competitors.

SoFi Wealth non-investment fees
  SoFi Wealth Betterment Wealthsimple
Account fee No No No
Deposit fee No No No
Withdrawal fee No No No

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
Account opening★★★★★

SoFi Wealth has fast and fully-digital account opening. The minimum investment amount is $1. On the flip side, SoFi is available only in the USA. 

Can you open an account?

SoFi Wealth is available only for US residents.

Minimum investment amount

SoFi Wealth’s minimum investment amount is $1. It’s suitable for clients preferring investing with lower amounts.

Account types

SoFi Wealth offers the following account types:

SoFi Wealth investment account types
Account type Description
Individual Account is owned by an individual
Joint Account is by two or more individuals
Roth / Traditional / Rollover IRA Accounts Individual retirement accounts

In this review, we tested the Individual Investment Account called Automated Investing.

How to open an account

Opening an account at SoFi Wealth is easy, fully digital, and fast. Our account was verified within one business day.

Nine steps at SoFi Wealth to open an account:

  1. Register a SoFi account, while you give your name, email address, and a password
  2. Acknowledge the terms and conditions
  3. Select your savings main goal: general investing, emergency fund, or retirement
  4. Add financial goals, like how much do you have now, what is your target and your total annual income
  5. Choose between the 5 pre-set risk levels
  6. Select your account type (individual or joint) and state whether it is a retirement purpose account or not 
  7. Add personal information, like your address, phone number, and employment status
  8. Give personal data, like your address, your Social Security Number or other ID details, plus regulatory financial data 
  9. Choose your funding method via linking your bank account

SoFi Wealth review - Account opening

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
Deposit and withdrawal★★★☆☆

SoFi Wealth doesn't charge fees for withdrawals or deposits, moreover, the whole process is easy and convenient. On the negative side, you can use only bank transfer, and only USD base currency is available for investing. 

Account base currencies 

SoFi Wealth offers only USD as an account base currency which is not a surprise given the fact the broker serves US-based customers. It equals with Betterment, however, Wealthsimple has a wider offer.

Base currencies at SoFi Wealth vs. similar robo-advisors
  SoFi Wealth Betterment Wealthsimple
Number of base currencies 1 1 3

Why does this matter? If you fund your robo account in the same currency as your bank account, you won't be charged a currency conversion fee

A convenient way to save on the currency conversion fees can be to open a multi-currency bank account. Revolut or Transferwise both offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. The account opening only takes a few minutes on your phone.

Deposit fees and options

SoFi Wealth does not charge deposit fees and supports automatic deposits. However, you can only use bank transfer, no electronic wallets or credit/debit cards are accepted.

Keep in mind, that a bank transfer can take several days.

Deposit options
  SoFi Wealth  Betterment Wealthsimple
Bank transfer
Credit/Debit card
Electronic wallets 

SoFi Wealth review - Deposit and Withdrawal - Deposit

Withdrawal fees and options 

SoFi Wealth also doesn't charge withdrawal fees, however, the withdrawal is only available through bank transfers. It’s the same for Wealthsimple’s competitors.

You have to take in consideration, that fund withdrawals with robo-advisors take a long time, at around 6-7 business days. SoFi Wealth settles the withdrawals within two business days after the trades occur, plus you need to calculate with several business days for transferring the fund to your bank account. 

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
Investment platforms ★★★★☆

SoFi Wealth offers its services through web and mobile platforms. The investment platforms have clear structure and user-friendly layouts. Both are providing two-step authentication. On the negative side, the portfolio reports are very limited.

SoFi Wealth offers in-house developed web and mobile investment platforms. They are available in English.

Web investment platform ★★★★☆

SoFi Wealth's web investment platform is user-friendly and easy-to-use. To add a portfolio, it is easy, just add a new "Automated Investing" plan, while you can select the details (ie risk level, duration, etc.) with just a few clicks.

The design is simple and straightforward, the branding and marketing are directly targeted toward minimalism. 

SoFi Wealth provides a two-step login. You can turn it off and on under your profile name, "My profile" menu "Account settings".

When it comes to the portfolio report, SoFi Wealth can be improved. There is no chart or any detailed breakdown for portfolio performance, only a percentage of the returns. You wouldn't expect a clear fee report, because SoFi Wealth doesn't charge fees.

 

SoFi Wealth review - Web investment platform

Mobile investment platform ★★★★☆

SoFi Wealth mobile trading platform is available both on any iOS or Android devices. In this SoFi Wealth review, we tested it on iOS.

The mobile investment platform is considered to be a perfect copy of the web investment platform, as such it’s user-friendly with minimal design, offers two-step authentication, and the portfolio report is very basic.

SoFi Wealth review - Mobile investment platform

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
Product offer★★☆☆☆

SoFi Wealth has limited options for investment portfolio personalization. It doesn't offer extra features, like socially responsible investing or tax-loss harvesting. As a plus, you can easily set your risk preferences. 

If you compare the robo-advisors, you should concentrate on the following three questions:

  • Personalization: how can you personalize your investment preferences and how many model portfolios can you choose from?
  • Asset allocation: what is the distribution of the assets the robo-advisor invest in?
  • Extra features: can you benefit from extra services, like an option for socially responsible investing or tax-harvesting?

Let's see the answers for SoFi Wealth.

Personalization

When you start investing with a robo-advisor, you can usually add your investment goal, risk preference, the investment’s time horizon and target amount. Based on your inputs, the robo-advisor recommends one of their model portfolios and you can decide which one you want to go with. The robo-advisors differ in the depth of personalization and the number of available model portfolios.

SoFi Wealth offers only 10 model portfolios and the level of personalization is average

  SoFi Wealth Betterment Wealthsimple
Number of model portfolios 10 400 30
Can you set goals/plans? Yes Yes No
Can you change the risk? Yes Yes Yes
Can you set the time horizon? No Yes No
Can you set a target amount? No Yes No

The first step of adding a new investment portfolio is to add your investment goals and to choose between taxable and retirement accounts. After, you can select 5 different risk levels, from Conservative to Aggressive.

SoFi Wealth review - Product offer

Product range 

SoFi Wealth invests mainly in big US-based ETFs, like Vanguard, Blackrock series, and SoFi's own ETFs.

The asset allocation within the portfolios is changing according to your risk preferences.

SoFi Wealth's conservative and aggressive asset allocations
ETF types SoFi Wealth Conservative SoFi Wealth Aggressive
Municipal bond ETF 60.0% 0.0%
Short-term bond ETF 30.0% 0.0%
High yield municipal bond ETF 5.0% 0.0%
Short-term inflation-protected securities ETF 5.0% 0.0%
SoFi's own ETF (1) 0.0% 57.8%
Developed markets ETF 0.0% 24.0%
Emerging markets ETF 0.0% 8.0%
SoFi's own ETF (2) 0.0% 6.8%
Small cap ETF 0.0% 3.4%

Additional Features

SoFi Wealth doesn't offer additional services, like tax-loss harvesting or socially responsible investing. These features would be a big plus.

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
Customer service★★★★★

SoFi Wealth has great customer support. You'll get fast and relevant answers.

You can contact SoFi Wealth via:

  • Email: we got fully relevant answers within 1-2 business days
  • Phone: we reached the agent within a couple of minutes by walking trough a meaningful multi-choice menu and we got relevant answers
  • Chat: after your identification, it is working fast and provides relevant answers

Unfortunately, customer service is not 24/7. You can contact them between 4:00 am to 9:00 pm PT

SoFi Wealth review - Customer service

 

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
Safety

SoFi Wealth is regulated by top tier financial authorities, the SEC and FINRA. You are also protected by a high investor protection amount, $500,000 which includes $250,000 for cash.

Is SoFi Wealth regulated? Yes, it is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

SoFi Wealth is based in the USA and was founded in 2009. Is it safe? To be certain, it is best to check two things: the background of the robo-advisor, and how you are protected.

How are you protected 

This is important because the amount of investor protection differ from regulator to regulator. This is not an issue in this case as all the customers are covered by SoFi Securities LLC and the US investor protection scheme, called SIPC. 

The SIPC investor protection scheme protects against the loss of cash and securities in case the broker goes bust. The limit of SIPC protection is $500,000, which includes a $250,000 limit for cash. This amount is substantially higher than the amount most investor protection schemes provide.

Background 

SoFi Wealth was established in 2009. The longer the track record of any company, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises. 

Being regulated by top-tier regulators and offering a high level of investor protection are all great signs for SoFi Wealth's safety.

SoFi Wealth Review 2019
Bottom line

SoFi Wealth is a robo-advisor based in the USA. 

SoFi Wealth offers free robo-advisory service with no deposit and withdrawal fees. The customer service is fast and reliable, and account opening is fully digital and easy. 

There are some drawbacks though, the personalization of investment portfolios is very limited. You can use only bank transfer for money transferring. The service is available for US residents. 

As it is easy to open an account, the fees are low, and their customer service is fast, feel free to try SoFi Wealth.

AUTHOR

Gergely Korpos
Gergely Korpos
Co-founder, CPO
Gergely's aim is to bring more clarity into personal investing. He has 10 years of experience in financial markets with GE Money, KPMG and MOL. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and financial portfolio manager
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