Robo Advisors Singapore: Complete 2021 Guide | SingSaver

Robo Advisors Singapore: Complete 2021 Guide

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Complete Guide to Robo Advisors 2019 | SingSaver

Heard the term “robo advisor” and wondered what it’s all about? Here’s what you need to know.

Robo advisors are a fast-emerging type of investment service which helps you manage your portfolio while saving time and money. They’re especially popular among millennials and Gen Z investors because they’re easy to use, charge very low advisory fees, and have minimum investment amounts that start as low as $50.

Learn how they work, the costs, the benefits, and the disadvantages of the various robo advisors available in Singapore.

  1. What is a robo-advisor?
  2. How do robo-advisors work?
  3. What kind of investments can I make with robo-advisors?
  4. Are robo-advisors regulated by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)?
  5. What are the alternatives to robo-advisors?
  6. What are the pros of investing with robo-advisors?
  7. What are the cons of investing with robo-advisors?
  8. Who are robo-advisors best for?
  9. What robo-advisors are available to Singapore investors?
  10. How much do robo-advisors cost, including fees and taxes?
  11. Reviews

How do robo-advisors work?

What is a robo-advisor?

Robo advisors are digital advisory investment services driven by an algorithm. Services include the automated maintenance and handling of your personal investment portfolio, based on their understanding of your financial goals and risk appetite. The main benefits of using a robo-advisor are:

  • A small management fee of between 0.5% to 1%
  • Minimum investment as low as $50
  • Easy monitoring of your portfolio through mobile or desktop apps

Most robo-advisors invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and diversify their portfolios across asset classes and geographies.

How do you open a robo-advisor account?

After signing up for an account with a robo-advisor, you will be required to complete an online questionnaire and enter personal information (that can sometimes be filled in using SingPass). You would also have to share your risk tolerance, financial situation as well as your financial goals. Lastly, in order to get your portfolio up and running, you’ll have to deposit money into your account.

Upon assessing of your investment goals and preferences, the robo-advisors’ algorithm will then automatically invest your money through selected portfolios which suits your investing profile. In essence, a robo-advisor replaces the human element in investing and managing your portfolio, a big reason why they can charge cheaper management fees.

What kind of investments can I make with robo advisors?

Robo-advisors commonly invest in ETFs (exchange traded funds), unit trusts/mutual funds, bonds, commodities, stocks and more. Before signing up with a robo-advisor, check out the investible assets under their portfolio to get a sense of the breadth and scope of their investment exposure.

Are robo-advisors regulated by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)?

Yes, they are regulated by the MAS. Robo-advisors are required to be licenced under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) and/or Financial Advisers Act (FAA).

However, as robo-advisor platforms are a new and developing sub-set of the fintech industry, MAS is keen not to stifle digital innovation with lots of red tape.

Robo-advisors can be licensed under the SFA even if they lack the usual corporate track record requirements, as long as they have board or senior management members with relevant experience in fund management and technology, offer only non-complex collective investment schemes and submit to an independent audit after the first year.

They can also be licensed under the FAA as long as they are able to gather customer data and assess their customers’ risk profile to prevent recommending the wrong types of investments.

What are the alternatives to robo-advisors?

Other ways to invest are through brokerage firms, financial advisors/experts, and private wealth management firms. However, such alternatives are a lot more expensive than robo-advisors. That’s why acquiring investment knowledge and skills yourself will always be the cheapest option.

If you’re thinking about investing on your own, here’s an article on Robo-investing vs DIY investing.

Pros and Cons of investing with robo-advisors

What are the pros of investing with robo-advisors?

Easy to use: Robo-advisors don’t only compete in terms of investment returns and service fees, but also how easy their platform is to use. Most robo-advisors have mobile apps or mobile web versions that boast a clean and simple user interface that can be easily understood by both beginners and advanced investors. This makes for easy, on-demand monitoring of your investment returns and portfolio.

High-class portfolios, low fees: Advisory fees of robo-advisors in Singapore range between 0.5% to 1% p.a., which is roughly a third of what established traditional financial advisors charge. Not only that, you have a wide selection of mutual funds, bonds and ETFs to choose from that are usually only available to private wealth funds or global asset managers who manage billions of dollars.

Low minimum investment: With robo-advisors, you can start investing with a small capital. Some don’t require any minimum investment amount, which means you can get started with just $1, while others impose minimum investment amounts of $50 to $10,000.

With traditional financial advisors and to access global investment instruments, the usual minimum investment amount can be as high $100,000.

No lock-in fee or period: Most local robo-advisors don’t have lock-in fees/periods or early withdrawal penalties, which means you can cash out your investments at any time.

Diversified portfolio: A robo-advisor will invest your money in a basket of assets, which helps to diversify your portfolio. That helps to reduce risk since you won’t be putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Your risk will be evenly spread out so that even if the value of one or two of your stocks goes down, the overall value of your total portfolio will be counter-balanced by assets that have risen in value.

What are the cons of investing with robo-advisors?

You still have to keep an eye on your portfolio: Robo-advisors aren’t holistic financial planners and they haven’t gotten to know you personally, unlike a proper financial wealth planner. They don’t know your life circumstances, for example, your plans to raise or grow a family or your career aspirations to name a few. While robo-advisors can optimise your returns based on specific goals, they can’t view your entire portfolio holistically, or can’t offer personal human advice when markets go up and down. That means you’ll have to still keep a close eye on monitoring your portfolio since only you have a bird’s eye view of your investment goals.

Relatively untested: As most robo-advisors in Singapore only launched in the last 3 to 4 years, the automated investment algorithms haven’t been really tested yet in a severe market downturn yet. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession will be their first litmus test.

Robots are impersonal: Investing isn’t always based entirely based on data and trends. Robo-advisors can’t address the nature of human emotions or can’t give nuanced personal advice during market upturns or downturns. If you want to be able to invest in your own stocks or securities or very specific investment preferences (for example, you don’t wish to invest in trade in alcohol, trade, tobacco or only want to invest in socially conscious or “green” companies), robo-advisors may not be able to give you that flexibility or degree of customisation.

Who are robo-advisors best for?

Robo-advisors are best for people who are keen to invest small sums of money, but aren’t that interested in knowing the ins and outs of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) investing. Basically, robo-advisors are for people who don’t have the time or patience to monitor and study global stock market trends. DIY investing requires self-study and market experience before you become really good at managing your overall financial portfolio.


Go further on your investing journey with some help

If you’re looking to invest with a robo-advisor, or if you’re considering making investments on your own, you can use SingSaver’s comparison tool to help you make a better decision.


How to pick the best robo-advisor in Singapore

What robo-advisors are available to Singapore investors?

Robo-advisorLaunch DateInvestible Assets
Endowus20176+ Global asset managers, emerging market bonds.
MoneyOwl (by NTUC)20185 portfolios in developed and emerging market equities, bonds
AutoWealth20158,000+ stocks and 600+ government bonds across 4 major geographical regions
Syfe20197 portfolios catering to various investment horizons and risk appetites
OCBC RoboInvest201834 thematic portfolios across 6 markets
StashAway201619+ ETFs ranging from small-cap growth, consumer staples, technology, precious metals, U.S. real estate and govt bonds, and developed and emerging market equities
Kristal.AI2016200+ created and managed investment strategies (Kristals) comprising stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds
Philliip SMART Portfolio2017ETFs, unit trusts, closed-end funds, investment trusts, business trusts, exchange-traded notes
UTrade Robo2018Diversified, multi-asset portfolios, built using low cost ETFs
Offered by UOB Kay Hian
DBS digiPortfolio2019Singapore or US listed ETFs
Squirrelsave2017ETFs that cover equites, fixed income, commodities and more

How much do robo-advisors cost, including fees and taxes?

Robo-advisors typically charge a management fee, also referred to as the advisory fee. This management fee usually covers for all transaction and advisory costs, such as withdrawals and depositing of funds. It is the main fee that investors will incur when investing with a robo-advisor.

Some robo-advisors, such as AutoWealth, could also charge a small annual platform fee.

Aside from the usual foreign exchange fees, fund expense ratio will range from 0.3% to 0.16% p.a. Here’s a summary of robo-advisory fees in Singapore.

Robo-advisors that charge fixed rates

Robo Advisor% of total value of your investments per annum
AutoWealth0.5% + USD$18
DBS digiPortfolio0.75%
Phillip SMART Portfolio0.5%
OCBC RoboInvest0.88%
SquirrelsaveManagement fee 0.5% + 10% of any positive return (performance fee)

Robo advisor fees for investments under S$100,000

Robo AdvisorAmountAdvisory Fee p.a.
EndowusUp to S$200,0000.6%
MoneyOwlFirst S$10,000
$10,000.01 to S$100,000.00
No advisory fees charged
0.6%
SyfeS$0 to S$19,9990.65%
SyfeS$20,000 to S$99,9990.5%
StashAwayFirst S$25,0000.8%
StashAwayS$25,000 to S$50,0000.7%
StashAwayS$50,000 to S$100,0000.6%
Kristal.AIFirst USD$10,000Free
Kristal.AI0.30%, on incremental account value above USD$10,0000.3%
UTrade RoboUnder S$50,0000.88%
UTrade RoboS$50,000 to S$100,0000.68%

Robo advisor fees for investments between S$100,000 – S$500,000

Robo AdvisorAmountAdvisory Fee p.a.
EndowusUp to S$200,0000.6%
EndowusS$200,001 to S$1,000,0000.5%
MoneyOwlAbove $100,0000.5%
SyfeS$100,000 to S$499,9990.4%
StashAwayS$100,000 to S$250,0000.5%
StashAwayS$250,000 to S$500,0000.4%
UTrade RoboOver S$100,0000.5%

Robo-advisor fees for investments between S$500,000 – S$1M

Robo AdvisorAmountAdvisory Fee p.a.
EndowusS$200,001 to S$1,000,0000.5%
StashAwayS$500,000 to S$1,000,0000.3%
SyfeS$500,000 and aboveContact Syfe for more information

Robo-advisor fees for investment amounts above S$1M

Robo AdvisorAmountAdvisory Fee p.a.
EndowusS$1,000,001 to S$5,000,0000.35%
EndowusS$5,000,001 and above0.25%
StashAwayabove S$1,000,0000.2%

Conclusion

Robo advisors are a cheap and easy entry point to the world of investing. Ultimately, your choice of robo advisor should be based on the ease of use of their platform, their range of investible assets, service fees and recent investment track record/results.

Here are our reviews of some of the popular robo-advisors in Singapore:


SingSaver’s Exclusive Offer: Enjoy waiver of management fees on up to the first S$40,000 invested in the first 6 months. No minimum deposit required. T&Cs apply.



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