Robo advisors are an increasingly popular choice among the younger generation of investors. But with more choices than ever, which should you choose (and why)? Here are our top picks.
As of 2020, Singaporean robo advisors are estimated to command about S$1.5 billion in assets under management, spread out over about 105,000 users. Although this is but a fraction of the country’s S$3.4 trillion asset management industry, their growth is promising, and they are increasingly becoming part of the ‘standard’ investment menu – especially among the younger generation.
But their growing popularity also means that investors today have quite a few robo advisors to choose from. So, as part of SingSaver’s mission to simplify personal finance for our readers, here are our picks for the five best robo advisors in Singapore – each the leader in their own unique category.
Note: If you’re not sure what robo-advisors are all about, check out our complete guide to them here.
|Robo Advisor||Primary Advantages||Drawbacks|
|StashAway||Well-established with large AUM and widely popular|
No minimum investment amount required
|Fees are on the higher side for smaller investment amounts|
Income Portfolio requires a minimum of $10,000
|Endowus||Allows you to access Smart Beta and actively managed fixed income products like Dimensional, PIMCO at the lowest all-in cost
Allows you to invest your CPF Ordinary Account funds at competitive rates
|High minimum investment amount and account size of $10,000|
|Syfe||Unique portfolios that give exposure to specific asset classes|
Highest projected returns for their cash management account
|Regular access to wealth experts requires a minimum investment sum of $20,000|
|Kristal.AI||Most attractive fee structure|
Gives you the DIY option of building your own portfolio
|Not so transparent or user-friendly|
|UOB Utrade Robo||Run directly by a bank, so very little chance of business failure|
Most competitive fee structure among bank-run robo advisors
|More expensive than non-bank robo-advisors|
Does not tell you the ETF options upfront
|AutoWealth||Same pricing structure regardless of your investment amount||Platform fee of USD$18|
Min. investment amount of $3,000
|OCBC RoboInvest||Choose from 34 different portfolio types, such as Gen Z Winners, US Cloud Computing or China Growth||0.88% p.a. management fee regardless of investment amount|
|MoneyOwl||Best for new investors with less than $10,000|
Low minimum monthly starting amount of $50
|Only three funds from Dimensional Fund Advisors make up the portfolios|
StashAway: Most well-known and user-friendly
Fees: 0.8% per annum management fees for the first $25,000. Decreases by 0.1% each tier to a low of 0.2% for amounts above $1,000,000. Does not include ETF fees – estimated at 0.2% per annum (0.4% for its Income Portfolio) – or currency conversion fees of about 0.08%. Unlimited free withdrawals.
Minimum investment: None for SGD deposits. $10,000 for its Income Portfolio
StashAway wins big marks for being the most well-known and user-friendly robo advisor in Singapore. One of the earliest in this space, StashAway is easily one of the first names mentioned when the topic of robo advisor is raised. What’s more, StashAway has recently announced that they’ve crossed US$1 billion in assets under management in just three-and-a-half-years, giving new investors a vote of confidence.
StashAway offers users three different types of portfolios: General Investing, Goals-based Investing or Income Portfolio.
Users can have exposure to 33 global ETFs for regular investments, 6 Singapore/Asia-focused ETFs for its Income Portfolio, and 2 money market funds for its cash management account – StashAway Simple, which gives users a projected return rate of 1.2% p.a.
However, like most robo advisors, you cannot select the ETFs yourself. You can only change something called your Risk Index score, and StashAway will have its own portfolio mapped to each score. The Risk Index tells you the riskiness of a portfolio, for instance, a 30% Risk Index score means that there is a 99% chance (based on Value at Risk methodology) that said portfolio won’t decline by more than 30% in a year.
StashAway tells you every single one of its fees upfront, such as the ETF fees and currency conversion fees – something you might take time to find out on other robo advisors’ websites.
On the downside, StashAway is one of the more expensive robo advisors out there. Despite its less-competitive fees, it has enjoyed strong popularity.
According to Crunchbase, StashAway has raised US$36 million to fund its operations so far – with its last funding round being a Series C – making it well-capitalised.
Read our full review of StashAway here.
SingSaver’s exclusive offer: Enjoy waiver of management fees on up to the first $40,000 invested in the first 6 months, subject to a minimum investment amount of $10,000.
Endowus: Best for investing in ‘Smart Beta’ products (and CPF funds)
Fees: 0.4% p.a. flat on CPF/SRS funds, 0.60% for regular investments up to $200,000 and 0.05% for Cash Smart.
Minimum investment: Minimum investment and account size of $10,000.
Endowus has two unique advantages over the competition. The first is that you can invest funds in your CPF Ordinary Account, and do so at a flat management fee of 0.4% p.a.
Secondly, it allows you to invest with passive asset allocations (that are globally diversified in a market cap weighted manner), through funds that may be actively managed. It has access to ‘active-passive’ funds, namely from the famous Dimensional Funds. Instead of merely tracking established indices, Dimensional Funds constructs its own portfolios using ‘dimensions’ based on research-backed factors (i.e. value, profitability, small cap).
You can also curate your own portfolio with their latest offering — Endowus Fund Smart. If you’re looking for a place to store your idle cash, their cash management account — Endowus Cash Smart — which offers projected returns of up to 1.4% p.a.
Endowus takes into account other hidden costs such as FX charges and dividend withholding tax, so that the total ‘all-in fees’ may be lower than other robo advisors that use tax-inefficient U.S. ETFs.
However, because all funds are SGD-denominated, there are no currency conversion fees and Endowus also explicitly refunds any ‘promotional commissions’ – known as trailer fees – that the fund manager might pay to Endowus.
Its fund selection is less extensive, at only 18 total. There are also only six model portfolios available, each based on different allocations between stocks and bonds. Another downside is its relatively high minimum investment and account size of $10,000.
Read our full review of Endowus here.
Syfe: Best for their unique portfolios and cash management account
Fees: 0.65% p.a. up to $20,000, 0.5% up to $100,000, 0.4% up to $500,000. Does not include ETF fees and a 0.10% currency conversion fee.
Minimum investment: None
Choose from seven different portfolios:
- Core — Growth, Balanced or Defensive
Syfe has one unique portfolio that sets it apart from the rest: their Syfe REIT+ portfolio allows you to get exposure to Singaporean real estate. While it’s true that you can purchase individual REITs yourself, Syfe’s REITs portfolio tracks the SGX iEdge S-REIT Leaders Index, covering all the top Singaporean REITs. It would also be difficult for retail investors to gain exposure to this index themselves. You can also opt for automatic risk management for this REITs portfolio.
Another advantage of using Syfe is its ability for you to get exposure to factor-based equity portfolios. Syfe’s Equity100 portfolio (comprised of 10 ETFs) is weighted according to three different factors that will increase the weighting toward a specific type of stock – large-cap growth stocks with low volatility. This is similar to what Dimensional Funds does, except that Syfe does this itself.
Syfe also has a global portfolio (Syfe ARI) consisting of a combination of 22 ETFs, with 11 risk options you can choose from. You can also consider their newest portfolio — Syfe Core — which is designed to maximise long-term risk adjusted returns, featuring 18 ETFs across stocks, bonds, and gold.
Their cash management account Syfe Cash+ is also another stand out product, offering projected returns of 1.75% p.a., the highest amongst all robo advisors.
Other than those advantages – and a complimentary call with a financial advisor – Syfe your standard robo advisor, with competitive fees that get lower with larger investment amounts. Regular access to their wealth experts is also limited, requiring a minimum investment sum of $20,000 for full access.
According to Crunchbase, Syfe has raised US$22.4 million in funding thus far, making it well-capitalised.
Kristal.AI: Best value and control
Fees: No management fees for accounts up to USD$10,000, 0.3% p.a. thereafter. The management fee is charged monthly. Does not include ETF fees and FX conversion fees of 0.2%.
Minimum investment: None. However, individual ETFs have minimum balances.
Kristal.AI easily offers the best cost structure and greatest control among all the robo advisors out there. With zero management fees up to USD$10,000 and only 0.3% thereafter, investors focusing on expenses should have no issue choosing Kristal.AI immediately.
Furthermore, it also offers the greatest control. While the algorithm can create portfolios for you, you can also choose to go ‘DIY’ and construct your own portfolio out of individual ETFs (over 100 options available).
Despite its undisputed upsides, there are downsides as well. For one, it is not the most user-friendly or transparent. For instance, exceeding 25 transactions amount will also incur a broker fee – the amount of which it does not disclose. Its FX conversion fee of 0.2% is also higher than most. Finally, while zero minimum balances are technically true, individual ETFs may have their own respective minimum balances.
According to Crunchbase, Kristal.AI has raised US$9.1 million in funding so far – with its last round being a Series A. Hence, the company is also newer, less-tested, and less-capitalised.
UOB Utrade Robo: Best bank-run robo advisor
Fees: 0.88% p.a. up to $50,000, 0.68% up to $100,000, 0.5% above $100,000.
Minimum investment: $5,000 per portfolio with a subsequent $500 minimum deposit amount
The shuttering of robo advisor Smartly in March 2020 has no doubt created some scepticism in the country surrounding the industry. Competition in the space is intense and it was the reason Smartly could no longer sustain operations. It’s also why we are listing out fundraising numbers where available; the more funds they have, the lower their chances of being forced to close.
But if you want the highest degree of safety possible when using a robo advisor, then your best bet is to go with one of the bank-run ones. With a history spanning 85 years and over $30 billion in market capitalisation, UOB is not likely to go out of business any time soon. And out of the bank-run robo advisory services, UOB’s Utrade Robo has the most competitive fee structure – hence their position on this list.
Still, their fees are relatively high compared to other robo-advisors, and transparency leaves little to be desired: it does not tell you upfront which ETFs it invests in. That said, this is something that all the bank robo advisors have in common. In short, if you would only feel comfortable with a bank-run robo advisor, go with Utrade Robo.
AutoWealth: Best for low and fixed annual management fee
Fees: 0.5% p.a. + USD$18
Minimum investment: $3,000
If you’re not a fan of tiered pricing, you can consider AutoWealth for its fixed pricing.
Regardless of your investment amount, you’ll be paying 0.5% p.a. plus a USD$18 platform fee. While the USD$18 platform fee would be high for those with a small portfolio size, investors looking to grow their portfolio with AutoWealth will be glad to know that the 0.5% p.a. and platform fee remains unchanged regardless of your portfolio size. This USD$18 would become a relatively small amount when you’ve amassed a sizable portfolio.
0.5% p.a. is also a highly competitive rate when compared to the fees charged by other robo-advisors. You also get an assigned wealth manager and access to their Telegram channel to help you with your investment-related queries.
AutoWealth invests in a range of ETFs depending on your portfolio type. You also have the option to input your financial goals and set up a recurring investment into your portfolio at no additional cost.
Lastly, AutoWealth has a friends and family referrer programme that entitles you to a $20 top-up into your AutoWealth account when you sign up using a referrer. If you know of someone that uses AutoWealth, do get their full name before you submit your application form to enjoy the $20!
Read our full review of AutoWealth here.
OCBC RoboInvest: Best for having unique portfolios to choose from
Fees: 0.88% p.a.
Minimum investment: USD$100
From Gen Z Winners, to US Cloud Computing, Hong Kong Technology, China Growth and Impact Investing, OCBC offers 34 different and unique portfolios for investors to choose from. Their portfolios target different industries and sectors, with varying purposes and goals.
If these sound like exciting portfolios to you, OCBC’s RoboInvest could be your robo advisor of choice.
While 0.88% p.a. is on the higher side compared to the fees charged by other robo-advisors, OCBC sticks to a fixed fee structure that encourages those with little capital to invest. Even if you were to invest a smaller amount, you pay the same percentage of management fees. Coupled with their low minimum investment of USD$100, new investors looking to try out OCBC’s unique portfolio types could find this attractive.
MoneyOwl: Best for starting small with no fees charged
- $0 for the first $10,000
- 0.6% p.a. for the amounts up to $100,000
- 0.5% p.a. for $100,000.01 and above
Minimum investment: $50 (per month), or $100 (lump sum)
If you’re a new investor that’s looking for an investment portfolio that charges low fees, MoneyOwl doesn’t charge any fees for the first $10,000 that you invest with them. They also make it easy for you to make regular investments, with just $50 a month as the requirement.
MoneyOwl invests in three different funds offered by Dimensional Fund Advisors:
- Dimensional Global Core Equity Fund
- Dimensional Emerging Market Large Caps Core Equity Fund
- Dimensional Global Short Fixed Income Fund
This is also what makes their investment proposition more limiting, having only three funds to invest in. Rebalancing is also only done every quarter.
Investing with MoneyOwl is straightforward. You can select from five different portfolios, depending on your investment goals and risk appetite: Equity, Growth, Balanced, Moderate or Conservative.
Read our full review of MoneyOwl here.
Read these next:
Investment Guide: SingSaver’s One-Stop Investment Shop
Best Cash Management Accounts In Singapore To Soup Up Your Savings
Dollar-Cost-Averaging vs Lump Sum Investing In Singapore: Which Should You Choose?
Best Brokerage Accounts To Start Your Investment Journey In Singapore
Investing In Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): A Newbie’s Guide To Getting Started
By Ian Lee
Ian is a former investment banker turned freelance financial and investment writer. He specialises in creating versatile finance content for the attention economy on topics ranging from personal finance and investing to fintech and cryptocurrencies.
By Ching Sue Mae
A flat white, an adventure-filled travel and a good workout is her fuel. This Manchester United fan enjoys sharing knowledge on personal finance while chasing the dream of financial independence.