Review of: WiseBanyan
Reviewed by: Carrie Smith
Last modified: April 28, 2018
WiseBanyan is a robo advisor service with no hidden charges. The base service includes automatic portfolio rebalancing and low minimum deposit. From our testing, they are the cheapest service in their category. On the downside, you must pay a premium if you want to open an IRA.
WiseBanyan is a low-cost financial advisor that offers a new approach to investing. But is it any good? We dive into the specifics of this robo investing service.
The idea for WiseBanyan was born after the founders, Herbert Moore and Vicki Zhou, saw too many companies out there trying to “appify” investing.
They witnessed the often-misaligned values of financial advisors and their clients, combined with too-high minimum investment amounts and unreasonable fees firsthand. So Moore and Zhou wanted to create something better.
What Is WiseBanyan?
“Automation and simplification are important,” says Simon Lee, a finance specialist for WiseBanyan. “We also offer a personalized touch by pairing each of our clients with a personal finance expert. On top of this, we don’t have a required minimum portfolio balance, allowing investors of all levels to start investing for their future sooner. Essentially, we removed all the annoying parts of investing and improved upon the good stuff.”
From what I’ve seen so far, WiseBanyan sounds like a version of Betterment except without the fees for taxable accounts (you’ll need to pay a premium for investing in an IRA). They take your money and invest it to buy a portfolio of ETFs while managing the dividends and rebalancing according to your choices.
WiseBanyan is SIPC insured and registered with the financial regulatory agencies SEC and FINRA. Your investments are not FDIC insured. They use Apex Clearing Corp. as their cleaning firm, and your investments are held with them. To start an account with them, they have a $10 minimum. They do not charge an annual fee for their basic service, but you will get charged annual fees for the ETFs they recommend.
The service does support fractional shares, so that means all money deposited is invested. Your deposited money will be put to use, and no cash balance will remain.
WiseBanyan Fees & Features
|Fees||None — Basic services are free|
|Tax Loss Harvesting||— All Taxable Accounts|
|Automatic Deposits||— Weekly, Monthly and Quarterly|
|Socially Responsible Investing|
|Access||Website, iOS App, Apple Watch, Android App|
|Customer Service||Phone: M-F 8A-4P PT; Email|
- Tax Protection (New) — WiseBanyan has grouped several features — including IRAs, WiseHarvesting and Selective Trading — into a premium package designed to help protect your returns from taxes. The monthly cost is 0.02% of your average account value and is capped at $20 a month.
- Fully Automated Platform — All investment selections, rebalancing opportunities and trades are identified and performed via the fully automated service.
- Two-Factor Authentication — A verification code will be sent to your mobile phone when you want to make an update or access your personal information. To enable two-step verification, go to the “Security Information” tab under the profile settings.
- Milestones — Similar to Betterment’s goal setting, though more restrictive. Set up the financial achievements you want, and WiseBanyan will monitor, rebalance, and automate your deposits. You can choose among these goals: Rainy Day, Retirement, Custom and Build Wealth.
How to Create an Account With WiseBanyan
The process is relatively straightforward, and you’ll be prompted to answer several investing-related questions to determine your risk tolerance and financial goals. It’s important to answer these questions honestly so WiseBanyan can correctly assign you a risk score from 1-10 — with 1 being the lowest risk tolerance and ten being the highest.
Don’t worry, though. You can always adjust your risk score — and any other financial choices — later on, once you’ve opened your new account. Based on your risk score, WiseBanyan will automatically invest your money into a diversified portfolio.
WiseBanyan surprising uses a bunch of Charles Schwab ETFs in their portfolio makeup. Unfortunately, the bond portion of their portfolio is heavy into corporate bonds, which compared to other types of bonds, is more sensitive to inflation and rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. On the positive side, WiseBanyan does have a REIT ETF to invest into real estate that historically does not correlate to stocks or bonds.
|US||Schwab U S Broad Market||SCHB|
|Foreign||Schwab International Equity||SCHF|
|Emerging Market||iShares Core Emerging Market||IEMG|
|US TIPS||iShares TIPS Bond||TIP|
|Corporate||iShares Corporate Bond||LQD|
|Short-Term Corporate||Vanguard Short Term Corporate Bond||VCSH|
|Short-Term High Yield||SPDR® Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond||SJNK|
|Short-Term High Yield||PIMCO 0-5 Year High Yield Corp Bd||HYS|
|US Short-Term||Vanguard Interm-Term Govt Bd||VGIT|
|Real Estate||iShares US Real Estate||IYR|
Once your risk score is calculated — and you’ve selected the type of account you want to open — you’ll be asked for your bank information. The minimum investment amount is only $10, with the opportunity to set up automatic contributions. Then WiseBanyan’s service goes to work for you.
Once your new account has been funded (which takes about two weeks), the software will create a diversified portfolio based on your previous answers to their questions.
|Fees||None — Basic services are free||Digital – 0.25%/year; Premium – 0.40%/year||0.25%/year|
|Promotions||None||Up To 1 Year Free||$5k Managed for Free|
|Review||—||Read the Review||Read the Review|
Pros and Cons
- No Annual Fee — WiseBanyan is free to use with no hidden charges, though the ETFs they recommend you invest in do charge annual fees, and you'll have to pay a premium if you want to invest in an IRA.
- Fractional Shares — All money deposited is used in the allocation they recommend.
- Low Initial Deposit — $1 is all that's needed to open an account.
- Automatic Rebalancing — When your account varies from the specified asset allocation, WiseBanyan will automatically adjust your portfolio.
- Cash Position — WiseBanyan is the only robo advisor that allocates cash as part of your asset allocation.
- Same Portfolio for Every Goal — WiseBanyan appears to create a portfolio based only upon your time horizon and risk profile. The asset allocation and, more importantly, funds used will be the same in a taxable or tax-deferred account.
- No Muni Bonds — For high-income individuals, WiseBanyan does not offer municipal bonds to lower your taxes.
- IRAs No Longer Free — You will now have to pay for a premium package if you wish to invest in an IRA.
WiseBanyan is free to use if you are not looking for an IRA and requires only $10 to get started. If you are just starting to invest, they might be an option to consider.
However, if you want to invest in an IRA, be aware that this is now part of WiseBanyan’s premium Tax Protection package.
WiseBanyan’s recently introduced tax-loss harvesting and makes it more competitive to other robo advisors.
Ultimately, we feel WiseBanyan isn’t a bad service, but there are other robo advisor options available by more established players.