At a glance...
Robo advisors are becoming an increasingly mainstream choice for investors. As their number grows, so too does the range of services they provide. Looking for the best robo advisor out there? Read on!
As of 2020, robo advisors in Singapore are estimated to command about S$1.5 billion in assets under management, spread out over around 105,000 users. Although this is just a fraction of the country’s S$3.4 trillion asset management industry, there is promising growth, and robo advisors are progressively becoming part of the ‘standard’ investment menu – especially among the younger generation.
However, this also means that investors like you will have quite the selection of robo advisors to choose from. Fortunately, Roshi is here to go through five of our most recommended picks available on the market today.
Check out our top picks for 2021 below
UOB Utrade Robo: For beginners and the risk averse; the best bank-run robo advisor
Unsure about robo advisors in general? Worried about giving your money to a computer to do as it pleases depending on what its automated algorithm dictates? What if it fails, and the people behind the robo advisor decide to pull the plug? You’d be forced to liquidate your assets, and that usually means substantial losses (the robo advisor wouldn’t shut down if business was great, after all).
0.5% to 0.88% p.a. Annual Fee
$5000 Min. Investment
So, where to start? How about a robo advisor run by a bank, such as UOB’s UTRADE Robo? Having been in operation since 1935 and with over S$40 billion in market capitalisation, it’s not like UOB is going out of business any time soon. UOB’s UTRADE Robo is the recommended choice for robo advisor newbies because it has the most competitive fee structure among all bank-run robos.
Unfortunately, it is still relatively high when compared with other robo advisors out there. It also could stand to be a bit more transparent, as it does not tell you which ETFs it invests in upfront; these downsides are shared by all bank-run robos. Aside from that though, if you are looking to start off with a bank-run robo advisor, then UOB’s UTRADE Robo is our pick.
UOB UTRADE Robo features
- Lowest fees among bank-run robo advisors
- Since it is backed by a bank, you shouldn’t have to worry about it shutting down any time soon
Kristal.AI: For the cost-conscious investor; best value and control
If you found UOB’s UTRADE Robo’s fees way too high for your liking, you’ll definitely prefer Kristal.AI’s cost structure: nothing, no management fees for the first USD10,000, and only 0.3% p.a. thereafter. If you’re looking for an economical option to start your robo advisor investing journey, then this should be the obvious choice for you.
0% to 0.3% p.a. Annual Fee
$100 Min. Investment
Another attraction of Kristal.AI is the control given to you, as the robo advisor provides you with the option to construct your own portfolio from a selection of individual ETFs, for those who choose not to opt for a portfolio generated by Kristal.AI’s algorithm.
On the other hand, be aware that although Kristal.AI itself doesn’t have a mandatory minimum, many of the individual ETFs do have their own minimum balance. Its foreign currency conversion fee is also on the high side, at 0.2%. It is also not the most user-friendly robo advisor on the market.
- Zero advisory fees on the first USD10,000
- No minimum investment balance, although individual ETFs may have their own minimums
- Create your own portfolio
It’s not explicitly mentioned, but Kristal.AI starts charging an undisclosed broker fee once you have exceeded 25 transactions. Therefore, you should make the most of these first 25 transactions.
StashAway: For those who want to focus on just investing; the most transparent and user-friendly
Many robo advisors out there do a poor job of communicating to you important things like the various fees they charge you, and saddle you with a fiddly user interface that is a chore to navigate. If you’re one who doesn’t have time to steer through convoluted T&Cs or an app that takes forever to get through, then you should try StashAway. StashAway is easily the most transparent and user-friendly robo in Singapore. It is upfront about every single one of its fees that it charges you, whether it be fees for ETFs or currency conversion. This is in stark contrast to many robo advisors out there that can often be quite opaque about how much they’re charging you and for what.
0.2% to 0.8% p.a. Annual Fee
None Min. Investment
It’s just as well that StashAway is so upfront about its charges though, because it starts off with a 0.8 p.a.% management fee for your first S$25,000, a pretty pricey premium indeed, though this does decrease the more you invest, eventually dropping to 0.2% p.a. over S$1,000,000. This, however, does not include ETF fees, which is estimated to be around 0.2% p.a., or its currency conversion fees of around 0.08%.
Like with most other robo advisors, you have almost no control over your portfolio. Your only option is a single Risk Index score that you can change, which should reflect your risk appetite. StashAway’s algorithm will then select a portfolio for you that matches your Risk Index score.
All the disadvantages notwithstanding, StashAway maintains huge popularity in Singapore, and if you’re an investor who values transparency and user-friendliness, then StashAway is probably the choice for you too.
- No minimum investment
- Great transparency and user friendliness; fees are clearly stated and its user interface is easy to navigate
StashAway offers an alternative StashAway Income Portfolio. Unlike its regular portfolio that focuses on a wide range of international ETFs, StashAway Income focuses exclusively on Singaporean ETFs, which is optimised for dividends and income instead of growth. It can be a good supplement, especially if you’re already invested in higher-risk positions.
Endowus: For higher-capacity SGD investors; best for investing in SRS and CPF funds
This is the first recommended pick with a minimum investment: Endowus requires you to put in and maintain at least S$10,000 in your account. This can be quite steep – especially if you’re a first-time investor – but Endowus has a trick up its sleeve: you can invest using funds from both your CPF Ordinary Account and SRS savings. Furthermore, when you open a Endowus account, you also get a UOB Kay Hian trust account that will contain all your assets and process all your Endowus transactions for that extra little peace of mind.
0.25% to 0.60% p.a. Annual Fee
$10000 Min. Investment
Another attraction of Endowus is that it keeps investment costs low by concentrating mainly on mutual funds in SGD – unlike many other robo advisors that choose ETFs – thus avoiding other fees, primarily currency conversion. It has different portfolios for cash and SRS investments from CPF portfolios, thus ensuring sufficient diversification. Endowus also refunds all trailer fees (i.e. the promotional commissions a fund manager might pay to Endowus). It also gives you access to Smart Beta and actively managed fixed-income products from reputable fund managers such as Dimensional Fund Advisors and PIMCO.
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.
- CPF and SRS funds may be used for investment, for a flat fee of 0.4% p.a.
- All your Endowus investments is held in a trust account with UOB Kay Hian in your name, keeping it secure
- Flat fee of 0.4% p.a. regardless of investment amount, with no trailer fees
- Access to Smart Beta and actively managed fixed-income products from reputable fund managers like PIMCO
Endowus has recently added the option to curate your investment portfolio with Endowus Fund Smart. Similar to its regular portfolios, you can invest not just cash, but also your CPF and SRS funds in it.
Syfe: For those who want to try investing in REITs; best for gaining Singaporean real estate exposure
Like a few of the other recommended picks on this list, Syfe has no minimum investment amount, which automatically makes it attractive to newbie investors; it has relatively competitive fees, and like the majority of robo advisors out there, it has a fixed set of portfolios. What really makes its stand out, is that one of those portfolios offers you the opportunity to invest in real estate investment trusts – or popularly known as simply REITs. While it’s possible for you to purchase individual REITs by yourself, Syfe’s REIT+ portfolio follows the iEdge S-REIT 20 Index, which tracks the biggest REITs brands in Singapore. You’re unlikely to get the same kind of exposure to the same range of REITs as an ordinary retail investor.
0.4% to 0.65% p.a. Annual Fee
None Min. Investment
Syfe’s other portfolio options are a lot less exciting. One option, the Syfe Equity100 portfolio, is – as you might have guessed from the name – a 100% equity portfolio, which means that this investment is entirely at the mercy of the whims of the stock market. Its Syfe Cash+ portfolio puts your money in money market funds for 0% fees, which is optimised for liquidity and thus should not fluctuate in the short term (meaning that it’s unlikely to make big gains, but you’ll also run the risk of potentially making losses). Finally, there is the Syfe Global ARI portfolio, which includes a diverse range of asset types including bonds and gold, and meant to be a “safe haven” against stock market crashes. It’s a “continuously risk-managed” portfolio, which means that it’s frequently subject to tweaks and tinkering. For new investors, these other portfolios might be a little too much; the real attraction is the exposure to REITs.
- No minimum investment, and competitive fees
- The Syfe REIT+ portfolio grants exposure to the Singaporean REIT market