In addition to being one of the best investment platforms for new and small investors to get professional investment management at very low fees, Betterment also makes it incredibly easy to open an account. You can accomplish the entire process by completing 10 very simple screens, each asking no more than three or four questions.
Since each screen takes less than a minute to complete, the entire process to open an account with Betterment will take less than 10 minutes. That's almost unheard of when opening any kind of account with a financial institution, whether it’s a bank account, a brokerage account or a loan.
The process starts at the Betterment homepage.
1. Start Your Investment Plan
To begin, click on the “SIGN UP” button at the top right corner of the home page. (Depending on the link you use to reach the Betterment website, the page may be different.) A pair of sentences, requiring completion, looks like this:
The screen may also add an additional question: “I am _______________(new/not new) to investing.”
Fill in the blanks, then click “Continue.”
2. Select Your First Goal to Begin
On this screen, Betterment will provide a suggested annual retirement income, as well as the stock allocation (the stock/bond split) that will get you to your goal. It will also give you the following options:
- Regular taxable account, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA or SEP IRA
- The option to select this goal
- “Read more,” which will give you a deeper analysis of the projection of your goal
- The choice to view more options
3. Review Your Retirement Goal
This screen will restate your goals and provide you with a list of Betterment features, including:
- Diverse portfolio of ETFs
- Low fees
- Smart rebalancing
- Personalized advice
- Extreme tax efficiency
- Tax Loss Harvesting
Clicking on any of the features listed will provide you with a detailed explanation of the feature and how it can benefit you.
Clicking on the “Details” button on this screen — located under the portfolio allocation — will give you the following:
Here you will be provided with a detailed analysis of the exchange traded funds (ETFs) that will make up your allocation, as well as the percentage of your portfolio that will be held in each.
To move the process forward, you will need to click “Continue to sign up.”
4. Basic Information
On this screen you will be asked to provide your first name, middle initial, last name and email address and then to select a password of eight characters or more.
You then click “Continue” to move on to the next screen.
5. Contact Information
Here you will supply your complete address, your phone number and how you heard about Betterment.
Complete the information requested, then click “Continue.”
6. Identity Verification
On this screen you will enter your Social Security number, your date of birth and your gender.
Then click “Continue.”
7. Financial Background
This screen will request your employment status, your household income and estimated investable assets.
Once completed, click on “Continue.”
8. Regulatory Questions
This includes a list of the following questions:
- Are you employed by or associated with a broker dealer? (Yes, No)
- Are you a 10% shareholder, director or policy maker of a publicly traded company? (Yes, No)
- Have you been notified by the IRS that you are currently subject to backup withholding? (Yes, No)
Once you've answered the questions, click on “Continue.”
9. Account Security
Here you'll set up your account security by answering two questions. Once finished, you check the box indicating that you have read the terms, then click “Create My Account.”
10. You're In!
Once your account has been established, you'll be prompted to add a bank account to fund your account. You can choose a major bank from the drop-down list or add one that isn't listed. You will then be required to provide your bank username and your bank PIN.
Once connected to your bank, you can enter the amount of your initial deposit. When you click “Deposit,” you will then be prompted to confirm your deposit.
From there you will be brought to your “Personal Account Overview” screen, which will reflect the amount of your initial deposit, as well as the account allocation.
From this screen you will also be able to create your “Auto Deposit Setting,” which will enable you to establish regular, periodic deposits from your checking account to your Betterment account, in the amount that you specify. You can then click “Set Auto Deposit,” and you're on your way!
When written out as we’ve done here, the signup process seems more complicated than it really is. But it will take only about 10 minutes, start to finish, and you’ll be all set to enjoy the benefits of professional investment management for a fraction of what it will cost for the same services through a traditional investment manager.