Betterment For Advisors Review: What We Like and What Don’t Like

Our firm recently partnered with Betterment and it's been a few weeks since we've gone live, so this is our first take on how things are going so far. 

First of all, we like how easy it is for people to open up these accounts with minimal help from us. That's really one of the biggest benefits we could think of, at least for right now. 

Now the one negative with that is that Betterment has a lot of different offerings within their technology. They've got the ability to have investment non-retirement accounts and retirement accounts, but they also have a cash savings account, kind of like a high-yield checking or savings account. And they also have a checking account or debit card feature. So the negative to all this is that some people need more guidance to make sure they're clicking on the right solution. We did have one person who did not, and kind of went down the wrong path. But for most people, it's easy enough to see what to click on, once they know what the best solution for their situation is. At that point, the account setup is really a breeze. 

Now, when they are set up, we get an email notification letting us know that they're in and they're now in the client dashboard where we can see all of the clients together. They also receive their own login and their own dashboard, which is really clean and simple and easy to use – at least that's the feedback we're getting. 

Another thing that we do like is that the new clients are able to make transfers from outside accounts, into their Betterment accounts really easily. I did it myself in setting up a non-retirement account and it only took a couple of minutes to link up the accounts and then press the button to start that transfer process. There's also the ability to do rollovers and transfers from retirement accounts as well. We are in the process of a client doing that right now and so far so good because Betterment walks him through the whole process. So there's minimal input from us to get people set up and that has been great. 

One of the benefits to the clients, and really for us too, is that they're able to link up their outside accounts, even if they're not transferring to Betterment. Whether it's cash accounts or their 401ks, or anything that has an online login, they can link it up and have it all on their dashboard so they can really get a complete picture of their financial life. That's been great for them just for ease and understanding what they've got and it's good for us too, because it helps us with planning and talking with the client and knowing what their whole financial picture looks like. 

Another benefit is that the emails clients receive are white-listed with our logo. They actually look like they're coming from us. So when the accounts open or when there's tax-loss harvesting, which happens automatically, or when the technology rebalances, the client gets an email update and it looks like it's coming directly from their advisor at Streamline, which is pretty cool. So far, the only negative that comes along with that is that that's going to turn out, we think, to be a lot of emails. Anytime a change is made or something happens to the account, we're getting that email too. So, as we’re getting more and more clients connected with Betterment, we could see that adding up, but that’s really one of the only negatives. We'll see. Again, it's only been a few weeks since we've got it, so we don't have as much of a balance between the pros and the cons. We’ll see what happens and then we'll report again. 

Now that we're up and running, we're going to start working on the marketing side of things. We’ll see what the webpage is going to look like, and also how we will be communicating this service and how we're differentiating it from our wealth management to this investment focus and it will be interesting to see what clients think about that. 

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