Ease of Use
Platform and Tools
If you’re in the market for an automated portfolio management service, you may be considering SigFig. Along with many features and tools, SigFig also offers its clients access to real financial advisors. Does SigFig measure up to the competition? Read our in-depth review of SigFig and learn more before you dive in.
What Is SigFig?
SigFig is an automated portfolio management service that gives every client access to real financial advisors. There are no gimmicks, just standard tweaks like swapping out high-cost funds for low-cost alternatives and tax-loss harvesting. The platform works with a variety of brokers, which is helpful since you don’t have to move your money around. Plus, SigFig charges a relatively low fee, given that you can talk to a financial advisor at any time.
SigFig was founded in 2006 by Parker Conrad and Michael Sha. The platform was originally known as Wikinvest as a Wikipedia-style site containing information about publicly traded companies. The investment service SigFig grew out of this in 2012, and Wikinvest was phased out entirely in 2015.
Today, SigFig has around 2,610 active accounts and $120 million in assets under management. That makes it one of the smaller automated investment platforms on the market.
How SigFig Works
SigFig takes a relatively vanilla approach to portfolio management, but one that’s proven to work. The company uses techniques like identifying high-cost funds and suggesting lower-cost alternatives, and automatic cash and dividend reinvesting to make sure that your money is doing the most work possible. SigFig also takes care of rebalancing your portfolio, taking into account tax efficiency and applying tax-loss harvesting to limit your government bill.
What’s different about SigFig is that the platform gives you access to a remote team of financial advisors. You can call in or schedule an appointment to talk about your portfolio at any time, and there’s no limit on how many appointments you can schedule.
Another nice thing about SigFig is that you don’t need to open a new brokerage account if you already have an account at TD Ameritrade, Schwab, or Fidelity. Instead, you can grant SigFig’s financial team access to your existing brokerage account, and they’ll manage your holdings for you.
When you first get started, you’ll answer questions about your retirement goals and your risk tolerance to have SigFig automatically suggest a portfolio for you. If you have assets that are substantially similar to the suggested holdings, the platform will whitelist them to minimize your tax liability. You can change your risk tolerance at any time, and you have a fair amount of freedom to customize your portfolio by talking to one of SigFig’s financial advisors.
SigFig Account Requirements
SigFig requires that you have a brokerage account with TD Ameritrade, Schwab, or Fidelity. If you don’t already have an account at one of these brokers, SigFig can create a new account for you at TD Ameritrade. The platform supports most types of accounts, including IRAs and 401(k)s.
Notably, SigFig also requires a minimum account balance of $2,000.
How Much Does SigFig Cost?
SigFig’s service is free for the first $10,000, regardless of whether you have less or more than that amount in your brokerage account. After that, the platform charges a 0.25% management fee. That’s in line with what other popular investment platforms are charging, and the $10,000 break actually makes SigFig a bit cheaper. Note that you also have the option to have SigFig manage only a portion of the funds in an existing brokerage account.
SigFig also offers its portfolio tracker tool completely free, although it only works for a limited selection of brokerages.
What Does SigFig Do?
Since SigFig operates as an advisor on an existing brokerage account. The main tool the service offers is a portfolio tracker. This is pretty simple, as it just gives you a view into what holdings are in your portfolio and how your wealth is growing over time.
The more helpful aspect of the tracking tool is actually for non-SigFig users. If you use the tracking tool on a portfolio the company doesn’t manage, it will automatically identify potential issues with your holdings such as a lack of diversification or high fees. DIY investors can use the tracker to manage their portfolio themselves without signing up for SigFig’s service.
Notably, SigFig users can also use the platform to set up appointments with a financial advisor. The company has a simple calendar that enables you to choose a time slot in half-hour intervals on most weekdays. Alternatively, you can get in touch with an advisor immediately by live chat through the platform.
How Well Does SigFig Perform?
It’s hard to gauge how well SigFig has performed over the past several years since the platform doesn’t issue one-size-fits-all portfolios and doesn’t offer a public example portfolio. That said, the service advertises that it only invests in ETFs, and only low-cost options with expense ratios of less than 0.15%. The fact that you can customize your portfolio by speaking with a financial advisor means you have some leeway to be more aggressive, for example by investing in sector-specific ETFs.
How Does SigFig Compare?
SigFig doesn’t offer as many customization features as some other automated investment services. But, the platform makes up for that by giving you access to a financial advisor who can help you tailor your portfolio to individual goals. The fact that you’re dealing with live advisors rather than simply algorithms makes a big difference in how flexible this service is, and advisors can also help you better understand your financial plan.
At the end of the day, SigFig primarily invests in low-cost ETFs, just like many of its competitors. These are, for many long-term investors, the best bang for your buck. That said, it’s hard to judge whether SigFig offers comparable or better performance relative to competitors like Wealthfront and Betterment since the platform doesn’t specify which ETFs it invests in or offer a model portfolio.
How SigFig Stands Out
The main difference between SigFig and other advising services is SigFig lets you set up meetings with a financial advisor at any time. If you’re not sure what your investing goals are or need access to more advanced financial advice, this service is one of the cheapest options available. Investors who already have brokerage accounts at TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, or Schwab will also appreciate that SigFig doesn’t require you to create a new account or shift entirely to a new brokerage platform.
Can You Trust SigFig?
Since your money is held in an account at TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, or Schwab, you’re fully protected by these institutions. SigFig is added to your account in an advising capacity only, so the company can never do anything with your money other than to use it to purchase assets inside your account. In addition, the advisors at SigFig are licensed financial advisors, so they have your best interest in mind.
Is SigFig Right for You?
SigFig is best for long-term investors who are building a new portfolio or want to add structure and diversity to an existing portfolio. As the service offers access to financial advisors, SigFig is particularly suited for investors who want a resource for discussing financial goals and creating a plan for retirement. SigFig is even better for investors who already have accounts at TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, or Schwab, although anyone can use the service and set up a new account at TD Ameritrade.
Final Thoughts On SigFig
SigFig is a high-quality investment management service that’s priced competitively with top robo-advisors. The platform doesn’t have any gimmicks and sticks to techniques that maximize the efficiency of your investments.
- Free up to $10,000 under management
- Automatic portfolio rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting
- Invests in low-cost ETFs
- Anytime access to financial advisors
- Seamless transition for TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and Fidelity accounts
- No tailored investment plans, such as sustainable investing
- $2,000 minimum deposit