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Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Review

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by Lauren Perez Updated
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is an online service, or robo-advisor, that provides you with expert investing advice. Investing can be difficult and confusing to understand, let alone execute efficiently. But it’s not something to give up on. Investing your money is crucial in saving up for big events like buying a home, going to college and retiring. In any case, you’ll want to end up with the most savings you can get.

That’s where robo-advisors like this one come in. Instead of overwhelming yourself trying to get your investments in the right place, you can place them in capable and professional hands. A robo-advisor is an entirely online venture that provides investors with expert advice and management. Because they’re online, robo-advisors tend to offer lower fees and rates than a professional, in-person advisor would.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is an offshoot of the company Vanguard. This robo-advisor will pair you with professionals who will work with you to reach your savings goals. Everyone’s goals are different and your own goals will vary depending on whether you’re reaching for an early retirement or graduating free from student debt. Your plan will be tailored for you. Plus, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services can also manage your investing accounts for you, while also giving advice and guidance.

Best for

Those with large sums to invest; Those looking for a comprehensive service

Drawbacks

You have to have an account of at least $50,000 to qualify. 

Pricing: How Much Does Vanguard Personal Advisor Servies Cost?

Option Name Management Fee Minimum Balance Features
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services 0.3% $50,000 Low-cost funds; Easy access to a professional advisor; Tax-bite minimized

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Management Fee
0.3%
Minimum Balance
$50,000
Features
Low-cost funds; Easy access to a professional advisor; Tax-bite minimized

Getting professional investing advice isn’t going to be cheap. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services charges an annual fee of 0.3% of your assets for its management and advice services. As we mentioned this is less than traditional financial advisors would charge clients for in-person service. However, some other robo-advisors charge lower fees.

This particular robo-advisor requires an account of at least $50,000. With an investment of that size, your annual fee would land at $150. Of course, the higher your account balance, the higher your annual fee will be. 

You will want to ask about any other fees that may apply before you commit. You can end up seeing fees for funds, transactions, brokers, commissions and more. Some Vanguard mutual funds do charge fees. You can also see fees for buying and selling non-Vanguard mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, CDs and bonds. 

Vanguard Interface

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services’ Investing Strategy

Every person is different, so each person’s investment portfolio is going to be different. The optimal mix of stocks and bonds depends on our savings goals, whether for retirement, a home or college tuition. The risk you’re willing to take on your investments also comes into play. This is because the stock market can be finicky, and no one can perfectly predict or time it.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services knows that everyone’s investment goals are going to be different, so it acts accordingly. Once you get started with an advisor, she will analyze your own personal goals and your current portfolio. That way, she can tailor your portfolio to you and not someone else’s ideal investments. She will work with you to make sure you approve of her recommendations. 

Your portfolio will consist of both stocks and bonds, but the exact mix will correlate to your goals and wishes. Stocks include U.S. large-cap, U.S. mid- and small-cap and international stocks. Vanguard will also add bonds into your portfolio, including U.S. short-term, U.S. intermediate-term, U.S. long-term and international bonds.

Vangaurd Advisor Investment Strategy

Your advisor will be sure to include mostly low-cost investments, so you don’t get hit with heavy fees. That way, your money can actually grow. Plus, the company has seen that lower-cost investments perform just as well, if not better, than higher-cost investments.

Advisors will also work to minimize the tax bite you get with your investments. They do this by efficiently allocating assets between taxable and tax-advantage accounts. This means that when tax time rolls around, your entire portfolio won’t be open to taxation. Vanguard will also help you develop a tax-friendly distribution plan when it comes time to withdraw money from your savings. This will be especially helpful when you hit retirement, since you will need all the savings you can get. 

As the market and your goals change and as time goes on, Vanguard will adjust your portfolio accordingly. Advisors will review and rebalance your portfolio on a regular basis to make sure it is always performing at its best. That way, you can reach your goals sooner rather than later. You can always check your portfolio through your online account, but you will also receive progress reports every quarter. Advisors will keep you in the loop about your investments, guiding you through the market and through the ins and outs of investing.

Supported Accounts

  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • SEP-IRAs
  • Deferred Annuities
  • 529
  • Individual & Joint Accounts

Unsupported Accounts

  • 401(k)
  • 529

Key Features

Vanguard promises low-cost services no matter what business you do with them. Getting the maximum out of a professional investment advisor can take a huge chunk out of your wallet. This sets your savings back rather than furthering them. This robo-advisor is a cheaper alternative to a traditional advisor. Plus, it bases its annual fee off of the amount of money you put it in charge of. It’s less than 1% of your account funds. 

In addition to low cost, Vanguard promises the advantage of personal interaction. You will always have the opportunity to reach out to an advisor, whether over the phone, in an email or even over video chat. Your investments won’t be managed by an unknown person since you will have names and faces you can put your investment advice with. 

You also have the opportunity of managing multiple investment accounts with Vanguard. You can save for a new home and retirement at the same time, ensuring that both savings accounts hold the best investments and are performing at their best. Plus, even if you’re familiar with investing, this robo-advisor provides you with a professional eye. It can tell you which funds cost too much for their output or which investments will lose too much to taxes. 

Not only will Vanguard optimize your investment portfolio and savings accounts, but it will provide you with a ton of financial advice and guidance. You’ll get help not only with investments, but also with Social Security and pensions.

Available Features

  • Human Advisor
  • Mobile App
  • Portfolio Rebalancing
  • Human Advisors
  • Automatic Deposits
  • Mobile App

Unavailable Features

  • Automatic tax-loss harvesting

Who Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Is For

Most of us could probably benefit from more professional investment advice and management, especially if you don’t already have it. Even if you understand investing pretty well, it could help to have more expert eyes look at your portfolio to really optimize your investments and savings. 

By providing management and financial advice, this robo-advisor is ideal for the person who is looking to invest but has no idea how to do so. Vanguard will begin by assessing your current accounts, then rebalance what you have to optimize it. Its advisors will regularly update your account, too, so you don’t have to. 

Because this robo-advisor is entirely online, it also helps those looking to invest but don’t quite have the time to meet an advisor in person or continually closely manage their accounts. You can trust a professional to expertly manage and optimize your account. Then when you have time, you can log into your account on any device. There, you can check up on your accounts and contact an advisor. Vanguard even offers video chat services so you can speak with an advisor face-to-face, but from the comfort of your own home.

How Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Works

First off, as a robo-advisor, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services are entirely online. This means you get to contact your advisor through online chat, email, over the phone and over a video chat.

Working with a robo-advisor also means you have lower fees for your account management. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services charges only 0.3% of your account balance as its annual fee. In-person advisors charge more than that. You should remember that there is a required account minimum of $50,000. So if you don’t have at least that much in your account, you won’t be eligible for this robo-advisor. 

Getting started is as simple as going to its website and clicking the “Get started online” button. You can also give them a call Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST. You have no obligation to open an account with Vanguard once you contact them, though. If you just want to speak to someone to find out more about your potential account, you can do that too.

When it’s time to open your account, you will need to provide personal information like your retirement (or other milestone) goals, your income, spending needs and more. Vanguard wants to get the best picture of what you expect from your investments so it can create the ideal portfolio for you. 

Once you hand Vanguard your accounts, it’ll assess and rebalance them to make sure they’re the best they can be from the start. You will be able to work with your advisor to hear his recommendations and make sure you’re comfortable with the changes he’s proposing. Vanguard advisors promise to listen to what you want to make sure your investments reflect you and your goals. 

As time goes on, Vanguard will regularly monitor and adjust your accounts. Whether the market has changed and affected your investments or your own goals have changed, the company will make sure your portfolio will also reflect those changes. 

Throughout all of this, you can be as involved as you want to be. You can talk with your advisors as they recommend changes or you can sit back and watch them make those changes from time to time. Advisors are always available to you, no matter how you want to contact them.

You also have the luxury of being able to use Vanguard’s app on your mobile device. Whether online or on mobile, you can check on your investments seeing how much they’re earning and how close you are to reaching your goals. You will also receive progress reports every quarter. 

What’s the Catch?

For one, you can only take advantage of Vanguard Personal Advisor Services if you have at least $50,000 in your account. This is a pretty high minimum requirement. It definitely prevents a number of investors from using the services. 

If you have at least that much in your account, then you will have to fork over an annual fee. The fee is a rate based on your account balance. If your account were to stay at $50,000 every year (which would mean your investments aren’t earning anything), your annual fee would always be $150. But of course your account will always be earning money and growing, so your annual fee will be higher. 

You may also face a higher overall cost due to fees. While Vanguard advisors promise to find you mostly low-cost investments, fees aren’t entirely avoidable. There are commission fees, trading fees, buying and selling fees and even fees for using non-Vanguard funds. Vanguard’s website isn’t entirely forthcoming about exactly which additional fees it charges and how much that might cost you. You may want to call for a consultation and ask about the fees before you commit.

Competition: How Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Stacks Up?

Nowadays, much of what we do is online. Investing and investment advice is no different, with a number of robo-advisors available to you. This is just one of those advisors, but there are other options out there for you. Two other options are Betterment and Wealthsimple. Like Vanguard, both other options promise to create a diversified investment portfolio of various stocks and bonds, depending on your preferences and savings goals. 

However, both Betterment and Wealthsimple also offer the option for Socially Responsible Investing so you can reduce your exposure to companies with low social, environmental and governance impact. If you choose this option, you will still have access to low-cost and low-tax investments. 

Unlike Vanguard, Betterment and Wealthsimple’s lowest tiers of enrollment, Betterment Digital and Wealthsimple Basic, have no minimum balance requirements. If you choose a Betterment Premium or a Wealthsimple Black account though, you will need to meet a minimum of $100,000. Despite the lack of minimum balance with a Betterment Digital account, you will have to pay an annual fee of 0.25% of your assets, no matter the amount. This is slightly lower than Vanguard’s fee of 0.3%. Wealthsimple Basic carries a much higher fee of 0.5%, though it will manage the first $5,000 for free.

One other key difference between these two robo-advisors and Vanguard is tax-loss harvesting. Both Betterment and Wealthsimple offer tax-loss harvesting; Vanguard does not. Wealthsimple also offers direct indexing for balances over $100,000, an advanced tax-loss harvesting feature that neither Vanguard nor Betterment has.

 

Robo-Advisor Management Fee  Minimum Balance  Best For
  0.30%  $50,000
  • Investors with large sums to invest
  • Investors seeking comprehensive investment service
 
  0.25% - 0.40%  $0
  • First-time investors with low savings balances
  • Goal-based investors
 
0.40% - 0.50% $0
  • First-time investors looking to build retirement savings
 

 

Bottom Line: Should You Use Vanguard Personal Advisor Services?

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services provides expert financial advice and investment management in a convenient way. The ease of contacting an advisor online paired with a name like Vanguard’s is a huge plus. These services are for those who wants to make sure their investments are in good hands and who don’t have the time for that kind of management themselves. This robo-advisor isn’t for everyone though, since you need at least $50,000 to open an account.

 

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