Review of: WeVest
Reviewed by: Christine C. Renee
Last modified: December 13, 2017
WeVest is an affordable personal finance planner with an emphasis on helping you take steps to increase your net worth. Get personalized suggestions on where to put your money and how to manage your overall financial picture. However, to get the most out of this service, you need a personal budget already in place.
Financial planning service WeVest was created to help its users answer a simple question: “Is your financial plan benefiting you or your financial advisor?” As its founders discovered, only 14% of active money managers beat the market over the past 10 years. But meanwhile, the average annual fee to receive a so-called “free” financial plan for a $100,000 investment is $1,530. There had to be a way to help folks cut through the self-serving “advice” and do what’s best for their personal finances.
Enter WeVest. The app offers automatic, personalized financial guidance to help its users grow their net worth. All without having to pay for an expensive financial advisor.
WeVest helps users navigate common money questions like “How much do I need to save for an emergency fund?” and “Should I pay down my debt or invest?” It does this by analyzing your entire financial picture — from your assets to your income, to your debt, to your demographics — as well as your goals. Then it creates a plan for your money — from saving for retirement to paying off your debt.
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How WeVest Works
When you sign up for WeVest, you’ll have a chance to enter your household and financial information such as gross income, tax filing status, types of debt, current assets and whether you’re saving for retirement. Then you can link all of your financial accounts to the system so you can see everything in one place.
The app will then calculate your monthly after-tax income and the total amount of debt with the “WeVest%” tool. Use the slider to tell it how much extra money you have each month, and it will recommend where to put that money so you can build your wealth.
When you sign up, you can choose from two pricing plans: $4 per month or $35 per year (which works out to a $13 annual difference).
Tracking and Managing Your Net Worth
After answering the financial questions and linking your accounts, WeVest displays your net worth information in an easy-to-read box alongside a savings comparison and your next upcoming financial event (such as paying off your debt or doubling your net worth).
Clicking on the arrows in the “Net Worth” and “Next Upcoming Event” boxes will take you through a forecast of how your financial future will look based on your current status and account balances.
What makes the WeVest dashboard different from other financial apps that aggregate your accounts is that you can see future projections as you pay down debt, save and/or invest. This can help you make better financial decisions.
Forecasting Your Financial Future With Buckets
WeVest separates your finances into buckets:
Each month, you’ll get recommendations on which bucket to put money into. This is your personalized plan, and it’s based on how much extra money you set in the “WeVest%” tool (more on this in a moment).
However, it’s important to note that WeVest does not make any payments for the user. Linked accounts are given read-only capability. The user must make the suggested payments on their own.
Just below your bucket recommendations is a graph showing how each one will grow (assets) or shrink (debts) as the years progress based on your current picture.
A forecasting tool in each bucket lets you change payment amounts to project how fast you can pay off debt, save up an emergency fund or pay off your house. The changes you make won’t affect your default settings or recommendations.
Being able to see how current money actions affect future financial buckets can help you to be more mindful of everyday spending.
The one problem I had with this tool is that the graphs and sliders are not visually appealing and are hard to read.
“WeVest% Tool” — Optimize Your Finances
The WeVest% tool represents your debt-to-income ratio or savings-to-income ratio (if you have no debt). It shows how much of your money is working toward increasing your net worth.
On the left side of the scale is a total of all your financial obligations (debt). On the right side is an estimate of what your take-home pay should be. However, the income estimate here may be higher than your actual take-home pay. This is because WeVest accounts only for federal taxes.
Since WeVest can’t calculate your true take-home pay, you’ll need to have a household budget or some way of tracking your money so you know how much extra money you can spare each month. For example, let’s say, after all your deductions and living expenses, you still have $500 extra. Use the WeVest% slider to add $500 and it will prioritize which bucket to put the money into first. This will also increase your percentage.
The point of this tool is to provide a visual guide for users to see how putting extra money toward increasing their net worth (paying down debt, saving or investing) can help them complete their financial goals faster.
Unfortunately, I can’t consider this tool to be user friendly. It took some time to understand exactly how it worked, and I needed help by emailing WeVest for answers.
Planning Investments and Retirement
Typically, WeVest won’t focus on investments unless other financial milestones have been met. It will prioritize paying off debt over retirement and investing unless your debt interest rates are low.
If this is the case, then it will calculate which option offers a better rate of return. If a user gets a better rate of return by putting away money in a 401(k) versus paying off debt, it will suggest extra money toward retirement, then recommend only the minimum payments for the debt.
If the user has no debt (or low-interest debt like with a mortgage), WeVest will recommend tax-advantaged retirement savings over brokerage investments.
However, it doesn’t offer suggestions on the type of investment to use, nor does it offer brokerage services. It’s up to the user to research the best investment mediums for their situation and to find a broker outside WeVest.
When it suggests money be put away into retirement accounts, WeVest considers the yearly federal retirement contribution limits based on your tax status. However, it won’t account for catch-up contributions (if applicable), so you’ll have to keep track of how much you’re putting away.
There’s nothing like a little competition to get people excited about increasing their wealth.
WeVest compares your financial picture to other users of similar age, income and household (whether you are married and/or have children, rent or own a home). So you can see how you compare in the areas of net worth, debt, savings, retirement and home equity.
Because WeVest is new and has a small number of users, it compares you to a wider demographic criteria. For example, for age comparison, it uses “over 40” or “under 40” and income over $100,000 and under $100,000.
As more users connect with WeVest, the criteria for comparison will become more specific. Each measurement will get smaller in increments of 10, age will tighten to five years and income will hone down to increments of $10,000. After age and income criteria, it will measure household information.
How WeVest Calculates Your Recommendations
As with any digital service, quality information in means quality information out. While you don’t have to give your real name or birthdate, it’s highly recommended that you use your correct financial profile and accurate account balances.
Debt vs. Savings
WeVest prioritizes high-interest debt payoff over savings and investments, except in the case of low-interest loans and mortgages.
For most people, this takes the guesswork out of whether they should pay down debt or save an emergency fund first.
When I tested this feature by putting in a $3,000 loan with an interest rate of 10% and a “WeVest%” of $500 extra, it suggested that I put a small amount of money (less than $10) into savings and the rest into paying off the debt.
WeVest uses the avalanche method when prioritizing which debt to pay off first. Higher interest rate debt is paid off first. This means credit cards get the highest priority, followed by personal loans, student loans and then mortgage. However, it will likely recommend saving for retirement before paying off the mortgage.
Savings and Retirement
WeVest considers that an emergency fund should be worth three months of expenses and that it should be in place before putting any money toward retirement.
However, the recommended totals given for savings and retirement are calculated to be on the high side. This is because it takes into consideration only your federal tax obligation. Your actual take-home pay will be different after you make adjustments for other deductions and living expenses.
For example, WeVest may estimate that your monthly take-home pay is $5,000, but your actual take-home pay is $3,500. The personalized calculations will be based on a $5,000 monthly income. This means, in reality, you may have to save less because you’re not living on $5,000 a month.
However, it really doesn’t hurt to save a little more money than you need for an emergency fund and future retirement.
WeVest Security — Is It Safe?
WeVest doesn’t offer two-factor authentication or computer registration like Personal Capital. But you don’t have to share your true identity with the system or link your financial accounts to be able to use it. You have the option to input all your accounts manually.
If you do choose to link your accounts, WeVest partners with Yodlee (Envestnet) to handle your banking information.
Yodlee is a financial aggregation service used by many other financial apps such as Personal Capital, and it allows users to link all their banking information in one account. WeVest never sees your login information, nor can it make any changes to your accounts, because it has read-only capability.
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Pros and Cons
- Keep Your Information Secure — WeVest doesn't need personally identifiable information to make financial suggestions and create a financial plan.
- Convenient Dashboard — View all your financial accounts on one dashboard.
- Peer Comparison — See how your money situation stacks up against others in your peer group.
- Forecasting Tools — Use the forecasting tools to see how fast you can become debt free, save up an emergency fund or plan how much money you'll need to save for retirement.
- Perfect for Beginners — WeVest is ideal for people new to managing their money or just starting out financially.
- Limited Use — WeVest can't help users who file their taxes as Head of Household or Married Filing Single.
- After-Tax Income Isn't Accurate — The after-tax income estimate is based only on a user's federal rate.
- Poor Customer Support — WeVest's Freshdesk live support link yielded no response. It's better to email WeVest directly if you need support.
- Cannot Make Payments for You — Accounts are read-only.
- Weak Budgeting Platform — Experienced budgeters with already-established financial goals may find the platform lacking in flexibility or find the recommendations too conservative.
- Poor Visuals — WeVest's forecasting tools are not visually appealing, and the graphs are hard to read.
WeVest is a unique app that helps you plan your financial future by recommending ways to increase your net worth. It’s like having a financial planner to guide you every month but without the expensive fees. This tool is best for people who need guidance on where to put their extra money each month.
And while it’s easy to use when you first set up your information, it can be hard to understand how WeVest calculates recommendations for each bucket if you want to make changes to them.
Experienced budgeters with already-established financial goals may find the bucket recommendations too conservative or lacking in flexibility.
However, this service is still new, and since WeVest occasionally offers free trials, it doesn’t hurt to try it to see how you stack up financially against your demographic or see your bucket recommendations.