Free portfolio advice, for real

FutureAdvisor applies algorithmic advice to all your retirement and stock accounts.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read
In addition to the requisite charts and graphics, FutureAdvisor will tell you specifically which stock and funds to dump and which to buy. FutureAdvisor

First there was Personal Capital, the "Mint for rich people" that gives users a clear look at their financial information, and, for those who invest $100,000 or more, access to financial advice and trading.

Then there was Wealthfront, which also gives people a dashboard for their investments and which will manage the money you put in, as long as you put in more than $5,000.

And now there's FutureAdvisor, which uses the same Modern Portfolio Theory that most advisers and algorithms use to pick investment vehicles. You tell it about your accounts, your age, your income and your risk profile, and FutureAdvisor will, for free, analyze all the money in all those accounts--a level of free data and advice you can't get elsewhere.

The usual boilerplate about security goes here: the company says that it doesn't store your passwords in any kind of readable format and that most of the data you see transits the site but doesn't stay on it.

If you want personal advice, that will cost you either a per-incident or a yearly fee (up to $195 a year), but FutureAdvisor will apply its robo algorithms to all your accounts for nothing. It will tell you where you're over-invested and not, and advise you on which ETFs and funds to buy to bring your finances into balance.

FutureAdvisor doesn't offer trading services, so if you want to take its advice you're going to have to execute all the actions yourself. But at least FutureAdvisor will tell you what to do.

"Everybody will give you same directional advice," CEO Bo Lu says. "That's why it doesn't make sense to pay for it."

Lu says FutureAdvisor works around stocks you already own and the institutions you have your money in. If you're in Fidelity, it may advise you to sell some funds and buy others that Fidelity offers, but it won't try to get you to move your Fidelity funds to Vanguard.

Likewise, for the company-sponsored retirement plans it knows about, it will only advise you to move money into funds that the company plan offers.

FutureAdvisor looks like a good navigation app for savings and retirement funds. It's not a full autopilot like some other modern financial planning services, but it appears to provide solid and useful advice, and you cannot beat the price.