Twine is a robo-investing platform with many key tools and features that have traders and investors talking. Twine’s focus is on collaboration and collaborative investing, designed for couples who want to save together. So, do you and your partner want to jump on the Twine train? Read this thorough review to find out if Twine truly is what you need.
Twine is a relatively new robo-investing platform designed for couples saving together. The platform was founded by CEO Steve Dorval in 2017 as a spin-off startup from longstanding financial institution John Hancock. While the platform is backed by John Hancock, it maintains a relatively separate identity – one that is far more modern, keeping in line with the youth of competing robo-advisor platforms. At this time, Twine does not release information about assets under management or user numbers separately from John Hancock.
How Twine Works
At its heart, Twine is like most other robo-advisors that have cropped up in the past decade. The service offers the choice to put money in high-interest cash savings account or to invest in ETFs using a portfolio tailored to your savings goal and risk tolerance. Along the way, you can set short-term and long-term goals and manage your money to meet those goals. What sets Twine apart is a focus on collaboration. While you don’t have to have a partner to use Twine, Twine makes it easy to set up joint accounts with a spouse or partner and allows you to create individual and joint savings goals. Once you have a joint goal established, you and your partner can each decide what you’ll contribute towards the goal each month and hold each other accountable using the Twine app. Of course, the app also allows you each to connect to your respective banks to set up recurring deposits. This collaborative approach is a major advantage for goals like purchasing a house or saving for joint retirement.
The downside to Twine is that the focus seems to be more on collaborative savings management than investment. There are only three portfolios available – conservative, moderate, and aggressive – which doesn’t leave much room for customization or control over what you’re investing in. On top of that, you can’t actually see what specific ETFs twine is investing in or their respective exchange fees. There is no information about historical performance and no metrics of performance once you do invest with Twine. Instead, all you get is a “projected” account balance based on your rate of deposit and estimated returns (without justification for how this estimate was made).
Twine doesn’t have any account minimums if you keep your money as cash, but if you want to invest with Twine you have to keep at least $100 invested. In addition, note that Twine is only available in the US at this time.
Twine Pricing and Fees
Twine does not levy any fees for keeping money in a cash savings account, which has a 1.05% annual rate of return. On investment accounts, though, Twine levies a 0.6% management fee. It is unclear whether Twine also charges exchange fees against your investments or whether those are included in the management fee, and Twine also does not disclose what the exchange fees sum to for each of its portfolios. Investors should be wary of this lack of information and note that exchange fees on top of a 0.6% management fee would easily make Twine one of the most expensive robo-advisors currently available.
Twine Platform and Tools
Twine is available as both a browser-based platform and mobile app. The mobile app is beautifully designed and streamlined – this is arguably one of the most enticing features of Twine, and one that helps potential customers overlook the platform’s high investing fees. Of course, the simplicity of the mobile app is helped by the fact there are very few options within Twine beyond setting individual or joint savings goals – there is very little information about returns or the performance of your portfolio.
Setting goals within the Twine app or online is relatively simple, as the app walks you through a series of steps that include determining how much you want to save, what risk tolerance you want in your investments towards that goal, and how much you and your partner will contribute. Other than setting goals, the main options available in the app are for setting recurring deposits from your bank account.
Twine is shockingly opaque about historical investment returns – there is absolutely no information available about the performance of any of the platform’s three portfolios. The only figure mentioned is projected returns “up to” 4.39%, and this is unsubstantiated by Twine’s documentation. Even information about what ETFs are in the three potential portfolios at any given time is difficult to find. Given that, it is impossible to compare the performance of Twine to other robo-advisors or to the stock market as a whole.
Comparison to Alternative Investments
Since Twine offers extremely little information about what you’re investing in with the app, it’s hard to make comparisons between Twine and other robo-advisors or between Twine and the overall market. What can be said is that Twine’s 0.6% management fee is more than double the 0.25% fee for using Betterment or Wealthfront. Since Twine does not give information about the ETFs contained in its portfolios, it is also not possible to determine how the exchange fees of Twine investments compare to those for Betterment or Wealthfront investments.
Twine Key Differentiators
The main advantage that Twine has over other robo-advisors is that the platform is designed for collaboration between financial partners. Twine makes it easy to add two users to a single account and to allow them to save for a single goal, each stating how much they will contribute each month. Better yet, Twine understands that not every financial goal is shared, and it’s just as easy to create individual savings goals alongside your shared ones. On top of that, the Twine app is highly streamlined and easy to use.
That said, the opaqueness of Twine’s investment strategy should be a cause for concern. The platform’s management fees are more than twice that of other robo-advisors and there is no available information about what ETFs exactly you are investing in or how Twine’s three portfolios have historically performed.
From a financial security standpoint, Twine is highly trustworthy. The platform is an offshoot of John Hancock, which is a major US investment firm. Furthermore, cash savings within Twine are backed by the FDIC and investments are backed by the SIPC. Investors can also transfer money back and forth to their bank accounts with zero fees.
However, Twine hides a lot of information, which throws up a number of red flags. The company makes it impossible to see historical performance or even what ETFs your money is being invested in. This lack of transparency is unusual among robo-advisors and users should be skeptical of Twine’s investments.
Who is Twine Best For?
Twine is best for couples who are saving together for joint financial goals, such as paying for a wedding, buying a house, or working towards a major vacation. The platform’s collaborative saving features are relatively unique and make it easy to track each person’s contributions towards the stated goal.
However, users give up a lot in exchange for the ease of collaboration. There are few portfolio options, and even less information about what each of these investment portfolios contains. Thus, anyone who likes to play an active role in their investments or even wants the ability to monitor their portfolio will have a difficult time using Twine. Moreover, Twine’s management fees are more than twice that of other robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront.
With that in mind, Twine could be used as a cash savings account only. However, even in this respect, Twine’s 1.05% interest rate does not match the interest on high-yield savings accounts offered by many banks or by Wealthfront.
Twine has potential as a collaborative platform for establishing savings goals and working towards them with your partner. However, Twine is opaque about what you’re investing your money in and how those investments are performing to the degree that it is extremely difficult to recommend the platform. Given that Twine’s management fees are also more than twice that of competing robo-advisor tools, most people would be better served financially by opting for another service with fewer collaboration features.
- Simple collaborative savings goals with a financial partner
- Free cash savings accounts with 1.05% interest rate
- Highly streamlined mobile app is easy to use
- Each goal can be associated with a different investment strategy
- Backed by John Hancock
- No information about what ETFs Twine invests in or their historical returns
- 0.6% management fee is much higher than competing robo-advisors
- Only three portfolio options to choose from