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Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Review

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This review was produced by SmartAsset based on publicly available information. The named firm and its financial professionals have not reviewed, approved, or endorsed this review and are not responsible for its accuracy. Review content is produced by SmartAsset independently of any business relationships that might exist between SmartAsset and the named firm and its financial professionals, and firms and financial professionals having business relationships with SmartAsset receive no special treatment or consideration in SmartAsset’s reviews. This page contains links to SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, which may or may not match you with the firm mentioned in this review or its financial professionals.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is a robo-advisor offering that's best suited for investors who already have some money to deposit. That's because Vanguard requires a $50,000 minimum initial investment, which is a bit high for a robo-advisor. But one of the most prominent benefits of robo-advisors are their low fees, and Vanguard doesn't disappoint. In fact, while the average annual fee you'll pay for a traditional financial advisor is about 0.95% according to a 2018 study by RIA in a Box, Vanguard charges just 0.30% per year. However, there are some other fees you might incur too, such as investment fund expense ratios.

Instead of overwhelming yourself trying to get your investments in the right place, you can put them in the hands of an automated robo-advisor. Like all robos, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is available entirely online and through your phone. That means you can check how your investments are doing at any time.

In addition to these online and mobile platforms, your account will be paired with a Vanguard financial advisor. So if you ever have questions about how your money is being managed, you can simply reach out to your advisor.

As you might expect, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is a branch of Vanguard, which is one of the largest investment companies in the U.S. As a result, you'll have direct access to a plethora of Vanguard investment funds, which are generally known to be low-cost. Your portfolio will also come with a financial plan that's created by your partner advisor. These plans are formulated with your specific financial goals in mind.

If you're instead looking for more of a hands-on, full-fledged financial advisor, SmartAsset's free financial advisor matching tool can pair you with up to three options in your area. Get started now.

Pricing: How Much Does Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Cost?

Option Name Management Fee Minimum Balance Features
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services 0.30% $50,000 Low-cost funds; Easy access to a professional advisor

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

Management Fee
Minimum Balance
Low-cost funds; Easy access to a professional advisor

Getting professional investing advice isn’t going to be cheap. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services charges an annual fee of 0.30% 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 balance 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 gets, the higher your annual fee will also 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. Vanguard mutual funds generally charge fees as well.

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
  • Trust accounts
  • Brokerage accounts
  • Mutual fund accounts

Unsupported Accounts

  • 401(k) accounts
  • 403(b) accounts
  • 529 plan accounts
  • UGMA/UTMA accounts
  • Non-Vanguard investment accounts

Key Features of Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

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 advisors
  • Mobile apps
  • Automatic portfolio rebalances
  • Automatic deposits

Unavailable Features

  • Automatic tax-loss harvesting

Who Should Use Vanguard Personal Advisor Services?

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.

Vanguard Interface

How Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Works

First off, because Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is a robo-advisor, it's located 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 0.30% 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 Vanguard's website and clicking the “Get started online” button. You can also give them a call Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 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.

Vanguard mobile app

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.

How Does Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Stack 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 popular 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 0.30%. Wealthsimple Basic carries a much higher fee of 0.50%, though it will manage the first $5,000 for free.

Each of these robo-advisors offer tax-loss harvesting. However, only Betterment offers this service automatically. Wealthsimple also offers direct indexing for balances over $100,000, an advanced tax-loss harvesting feature that neither Vanguard nor Betterment has.

Robo-Advisor Annual Management Fee  Minimum Balance  Best For
  • $50,000 for all accounts
  • Investors with large sums to invest
  • Investors seeking comprehensive investment service
  0.25% - 0.40%
  • "Digital" account: $0
  • "Premium" account: $100,000
  • First-time investors with low savings balances
  • Goal-based investors
0.40% - 0.50%
  • $0 for all accounts
  • First-time investors looking to build retirement savings

Bottom Line

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services provides expert financial advice and automated investment management in a convenient package. The ease of contacting an advisor online paired with a name like Vanguard’s is a huge plus. These services are for those who want 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.

Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor

  • Sometimes a robo-advisor with occasional human guidance doesn’t quite make the cut. If that’s the case for you, SmartAsset can help you find a financial advisor in your area. In fact, SmartAsset will match you with up to three advisors, and the final choice of who to work with is up to you. Get started now.
  • When choosing a financial advisor, keep your goals and needs in mind. Are you putting a child through college while also saving for a new home? Find an advisor who can help you with that. It helps to ask advisors questions about their credentials and experience to better determine whether they’re right for you.
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