There was once a time when the only way you could receive personalized financial advice was through a financial advisor.
While financial advisors can be extremely beneficial, there is a wealth of resources that can help tackle many people’s investment needs.
The emergence of financial technology, or FinTech, has led to the development of robo-advisors, online brokerage firms, and micro-investing tools.
List of the Best Investment Apps
We have compiled a list of apps and sites that can help you choose investments, manage your assets, and help you reach your overall financial goals.
One of the best resources for those looking to take advantage of finance technology is a robo-advisor.
Betterment is a robo-advisor that aims to break down the barriers that prevent people from investing.
Whether you believe you lack the knowledge, time, or resources to invest, Betterment helps debunk common investing myths.
Betterment focuses on goal-based investing. This means that they are not focused on your making several commission-based trades a day.
They would rather help you focus on your long term financial goals, such as paying for college or buying a house.
Betterment uses two types of investments: Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and US treasury bonds.
EFTs are similar to index funds, but EFTs can be bought and sold at different price points throughout the day whereas mutual funds and index funds are sold at the closing price, regardless of when they are bought or sold.
In line with their promise to help you reach your investment goal, Betterment offers financial advice packages.
These plans give you access to a licensed financial expert who helps you stay on track to meet your goal.
Some of the financial advice packages include:
- Getting Started package
- College Planning package
- Retirement Planning package
Betterment is a valuable resource to investors of all experience levels. Those who are seasoned investors may find that Betterment is an excellent tool for simplifying your portfolio and allocating assets.
Sometimes referred to as the “Amazon of P2P lending sites”, Lending Club is an excellent tool for those who have never invested before and are interested in building a beginner’s portfolio.
It can also be a great resource for those looking to diversify an existing portfolio.
The concept behind peer-to-peer lending sites is simple. People and businesses who are seeking funds are matched with lenders through third-party peer-to-peer (or P2P) sites.
Those familiar with online shopping will feel comfortable with Lending Club’s user experience. With loan minimums starting at $25, Lending Club makes peer-to-peer investing as simple as clicking “Add to Cart”.
Lending Club has two options for those looking to invest: manual and automatic lending.
The manual or individual loan investing option allows you to look at all of the investment opportunities and compare them to find the best fit for you. This is good for those who are wishing to have a more hands-on investing experience.
The automatic investing option (Lendingmatch™) sorts investment options based on the goals you set and how much you would like to invest. If you are not interested in researching each opportunity or would like more guided assistance, this may be a good option for you.
Beginner investors will benefit from Lending Club’s easy-to-use platform and their low barrier entry cost. Lending Club proves that those with limited resources can still build a diverse investment portfolio.
One of the most common misconceptions about investing is that it requires hundreds or thousands of dollars to get started.
Acorns proves that this could not be further from the truth by making your spare change work for you.
Acorns is a micro-investing app that links to your bank account, rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, and invests the difference.
Your change is put towards a variety of investments, such as ETFs and fractional shares.
Acorns is perfect for young adults who have little to no experience with investing, as you are only ever investing pennies at a time.
Acorns incentivize college students by offering free use while in school. After that, users must pay $1-3 per month based on the quantity and type of accounts that are managed.
By making the best use your spare change, Acorns proves that there are no excuses not to invest.
Nothing is better than free, right? This is perhaps the best part of M1 Finance.
M1 Finance is an online brokerage firm similar to Betterment that doesn’t charge any fees or commissions for their services.
The only barrier is a $100 minimum for a taxable account and a $500 minimum for a retirement account.
This platform provides an excellent visual of asset allocation in the form of an investment “pie”.
This makes it easy to see how your funds are divided amongst your investments. You can create your pie by investing in any combination of stocks, ETFs, and fractional shares.
To begin, you set target weights for each “slice” of your investment pie. After this, all you need to do is fund your account and M1 Finance will automatically move the funds into the investments at the desired percentage.
M1 Finance automatically balances your account so that your assets are in line with your allocation preferences. M1 Finance also offers its own investment pies that are designed to align with specific financial goals and risk tolerance.
M1 Finance is best suited for the investor that does not need a lot of assistance with growing his or her portfolio.
If you are an investor who would like personalized advice and assistance, there are other robo-advisors that may be more useful.
Fundrise is a site that allows you to invest in real estate without having the duties of a landlord. It does this by allowing you to invest in real estate investment trusts.
Fundrise has low investment minimums and a simple user interface, making it accessible to a variety of introductory investors.
Real estate investment trusts, or REITs, sell shares to individual investors and put money towards large-scale real estate investments.
Many real estate platforms are only available to high net worth investors. However, Fundrise allows average investors to benefit from investing in real estate trusts.
Fundrise allows you to invest in REITs through four ‘portfolios’, which determine the proper mix of products for your investment needs.
The Starter Portfolio requires a $500 minimum on investments. There is a $1000 minimum for the other three portfolios:
- Supplemental Income
- Balanced Investing
- Long Term Growth
There is also an asset management fee of .85% and an advisory fee of .15%.
Financial advisors will always say “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If you are looking for avenues other than stocks and bonds, real estate is a great way to invest in a market that trends outside of the stock market.
If you would like the freedom to make your own investments but are unsure how to build an investment portfolio, Stash may be for you.
Stash aims to educate beginners on how to find and choose investments that align with their financial goals.
Stash is not a robo-advisor but can be thought of as a micro-investing tool. Once you create a Stash account, you will need to open a taxable investment account or a tax-advantaged retirement account, such as traditional IRA or Roth IRA.
You can start investing with only $5. There is a $1 per month management fee for accounts ranging from $0 to $5000.
Over $5000, there is a .25% management fee per year. It is worth noting that the larger your account balance is, the more-cost friendly Stash becomes.
That being said, Stash may not be the best tool for you as your investments grow.
Stash does not manage your funds for you, so another robo-advisor may be better for you if you have an extensive portfolio that you need automatically managed.
If you are a beginner looking for an educational resource about starting an investment portfolio, Stash can get you going in the right direction.
Stockpile offers a truly unique experience to buying stock and ETFs by purchasing gift cards for stock instead of buying directly.
It is an unconventional gift for those who are interested in investing or a way for parents to teach their kids about investing.
Stockpile lets you to purchase stocks in two ways:
- purchase stocks directly yourself
- purchase a gift card for someone
There is a .99 cent fee per trade. There are also fees charged based on the amount you purchase on a gift card.
You do not need to have a Stockpile account to purchase the gift card, but the recipient will need an account to redeem it. You must be 18 years or older and a US citizen to create a Stockpile account.
If you do not meet these two requirements, you can exchange the gift card for a retail gift card. If you are a parent gifting a Stockpile card to your child under 18, you can create a custodial account on their behalf.
Personal Capital is an investment management tool that can assist you with budgeting, investing, and improving your financial habits.
Its Cash Flow Analyzer helps you see where your money is going. It also tracks your expenses and provides monthly summaries based on your transactions.
Personal Capital’s main function is as an investment management tool, though this function is only available on the paid version of the app.
The investment management service requires a minimum of $25000 under management. After signing up, Personal Capital curates an investment portfolio for you based on your risk tolerance, investment goals, and any other personal preferences.
Personal Capital also offers investment checkups. After entering your financial accounts onto the platform, it will suggest changes to ensure the best asset allocation. It will automatically make changes to accounts that it manages directly.
Personal Capital’s dashboard displays the following along with many other items:
- Net Worth
- Account Balances
- Cash Flow
- Portfolio Allocations
- Investment Returns
- Top Gainers
- Top Losers
It may sound overwhelming, but their platform manages to provide all this information and remain incredibly user-friendly. Learn more by reading our full review of Personal Capital.
Those who are new to investing tend to shy away from trade fees and commissions; if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can feel like you are giving your money away.
If limiting your costs in commissions and fees is important to you, look no further than Robinhood.
Robinhood is an online brokerage app that allows you to trade stocks, cryptocurrency, options and ETF with no commissions and no account minimums.
This makes the app incredibly valuable to frequent stock or ETF traders.
The app’s simplicity makes it ideal for millennials and smartphone users. The home page shows you stock that you own as well as your watchlist. It is also extremely reactive to market changes and lets you watch in real-time as your portfolio value changes.
Most online brokers charge a fee or commission, but they also offer a tremendous amount of research, news, logistics, and educational resources for beginner investors.
While Robinhood targets millennials and novice investors, they do not offer much in the way of education and statistics.
Other brokerage sites may be better for those looking for a more hands-on investment experience.
If there are any take always from this article, it’s that FinTech has made an enormous push to activate millennials in the investment space.
This could not have been more clear when J.P. Morgan announced their new online brokerage app, You Invest.
You Invest offers commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs as well as a variety of educational resources and trading technology.
Setting up a You Invest account is incredibly quick. After transferring funds to your account, the app establishes your risk tolerance and helps you make initial investments.
You will need to visit the J.P. Morgan site before setting up your account if you are not an existing customer. The first year of use, or first 100 trades, is free of commission. After that, each trade of stocks and ETFs will cost $2.95.
The target demographic is beginner investors who can benefit from the educational resources on the site. Experienced investors can also benefit from You Invest, though they may not benefit as much from the various tools and guides the app offers.
Summing It Up
As always, a financial advisor is going to be the best option for personalized advice regarding investment and asset management.
However, if you are a beginner investor or would like a more hands-off trading experience, these sites and apps are an excellent way to take advantage of financial technology.