Frequently Asked Questions

FutureAdvisor is an award-winning registered investment advisory firm that manages your existing IRA, Roth, taxable accounts, and other investment accounts. We automatically monitor, rebalance, and tax-manage your current investments, adding low-fee index funds where necessary to bolster your portfolio. If your accounts are already with Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, we're simply a management layer you add over your existing accounts. If your accounts are elsewhere we do the paperwork to consolidate them at Fidelity or TD Ameritrade as part of FutureAdvisor's services.

Performance

What returns have FutureAdvisor clients received?

Great question! See our historical actual client performance.

What is FutureAdvisor's investment philosophy and methodology?

We take academically researched portfolio management principles and industry best practices and apply them to your situation and your existing investment accounts. We use the funds you already own whenever possible, to minimize churn and minimize tax impact. When necessary, we add low cost index funds to better diversify the portfolio. You can read more details about our methodology.

Why index funds?

Research shows that index investing is more effective than picking stocks or actively managed mutual funds. Find out more on our methodology page.

What are ETFs?

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are similar to index mutual funds. ETFs are bought and sold like stocks and usually have a lower expense ratio than the equivalent mutual fund.

How it works: signing up

Who is behind FutureAdvisor?

We are a team of finance professionals, data scientists, and software engineers backed by the venture capital team behind PayPal and Google. FutureAdvisor is at the leading edge of a shift in financial services towards transparency and affordability. Learn more about who we are.

What types of accounts are supported? Are you able to manage my 401(k)?

We currently offer Direct Management for Traditional, Roth, Rollover, and SEP IRAs, as well as individual and joint taxable accounts. Direct Management means you grant FutureAdvisor the authority to trade in the account on your behalf.
We can help you rollover your 401(k) if you no longer work at your employer. However, we do not manage 401(k) accounts if you are still at your employer and contributing to it.

I don't have an investment account, can I still join?

Yes, we can help you open Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and taxable accounts for you. Simply let us know and we will help you get started.

Do I have to sell or liquidate my investments to have FutureAdvisor manage them?

No. We manage your accounts the way they are today. If your accounts are already with Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, we're simply a management layer you add over your existing accounts. If your accounts are elsewhere we do the paperwork to consolidate them at Fidelity or TD Ameritrade as part of FutureAdvisor's services. We always strive to minimize capital gains and stringently follow our Capital Gains and Tax Policy.

Who is eligible to use FutureAdvisor?

To enroll in FutureAdvisor, you must be a legal US resident, between 18 and 68 years of age, and you must have a valid Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number.

Why do I have to transfer my assets to Fidelity Investments or TD Ameritrade for FutureAdvisor Premium?

As a SEC Registered Investment Advisor, we do not hold investment assets directly. Instead we have agreements with two industry-leading brokerages, Fidelity Investments and TD Ameritrade, to assume custody of your accounts and to enable us to trade in your accounts. Both brokerages are SIPC insured and offer robust lineups of low-fee and commission-free ETFs that we use to balance your portfolio.

For tax sheltered accounts with less than $10,000, we help you liquidate existing investments before transfer to minimize trading fees. For tax sheltered accounts with more than $10,000, and when possible, we help you transfer the holdings as they are, to minimize the amount of time your cash is out of the market. Taxable accounts are always transferred as-is, which enables us to conduct a detailed analysis of the tax lot information for each holding before considering a sale. See our Capital Gains and Tax Policy for how we strive to minimize tax impact during trading.

How it works: day-to-day

Who is actually managing my portfolio on a day-to-day basis?

Portfolio monitoring is done by our software Recommendations Engine and human investment team. If the Recommendation Engine proposes adjustments to the portfolio of a particular client, they are reviewed by our investment team before being executed.

Will I be given a preview of my initial rebalance trades? What about subsequent rebalance trades?

Because the initial rebalance can significantly change your portfolio, we send a preview email two days in advance. The email provides details on the improvements we intend for your portfolio, allowing you access to our list of prospective trades.

Thereafter, we will only notify you when a rebalance is complete, as subsequent rebalancing serves to fine-tune your initial allocation.

When do you rebalance?

Following the initial rebalance, we continuously monitor your portfolio. When your assets drift outside their target allocation, or when life alters your investment profile, risk tolerance, or retirement plan, we're standing guard, ready to rebalance your accounts in an instant. On average, a portfolio is rebalanced four to six times per year.

Can I override your investment decisions?

Usually not, though we do allow clients to "lock" individual stock holdings they want to keep provided they're a relatively small portion of the overall portfolio. As your investment advisor we take responsibility for the overall suitability of your portfolio, and as such we're unable to make adjustments to suit each investor's take on the market.

How do I access my Premium accounts?

Once FutureAdvisor enrolls your accounts into Premium, you can access your account anytime through either FutureAdvisor's website or through the brokerage website of Fidelity or TD Ameritrade as you normally would any investment account.

How do I add money to my Premium accounts?

You can link your bank account to your Premium accounts held at either Fidelity or TD Ameritrade in order to make one-time or recurring deposits. If you are a Premium user, you can get started by reading the Premium instructions at the bottom of of your Account Settings page. The deposit will be automatically invested within 2 business days, although we wait until you have $500 or more in cash per account before we invest.

How do I withdraw from my Premium accounts?

Please contact FutureAdvisor Premium Support for assistance with withdrawals. Our phone and email contact information can be found on your Account Settings page.

What are the funds FutureAdvisor uses to balance my portfolio?

FutureAdvisor utilizes the funds you already own whenever possible to minimize churn and tax impact. When necessary, we'll add low-fee index funds to your portfolio to achieve specific diversification goals. Here's a sample set of funds that we use to round out your portfolio:

Symbol Fund Name Expense Ratio
FNDF Schwab Fundamental International Large Company Index ETF 0.32%
EFV iShares MSCI EAFE Value ETF 0.40%
IVV iShares Core S&P 500 ETF 0.07%
VTI Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund 0.05%
SCHB Schwab US Broad Market ETF 0.04%
VWO Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund 0.15%
SCHE Schwab Emerging Markets Equity ETF 0.14%
IEMG iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF 0.18%
VB Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund 0.09%
SCHA Schwab US Small-Cap ETF 0.08%
IJR iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF 0.14%
VTV Vanguard Value Index Fund 0.09%
SCHV Schwab US Large-Cap Value ETF 0.07%
IVE iShares S&P 500 Value ETF 0.18%
VEA Vanguard Tax-Managed International Fund 0.09%
SCHF Schwab International Equity ETF 0.08%
IEFA iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF 0.12%
VNQ Vanguard REIT Index Fund 0.10%
SCHH Schwab US REIT ETF 0.07%
VSS Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small-Cap Index Fund 0.20%
SCHC Schwab International Small-Cap Equity ETF 0.19%
SCZ iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF 0.40%
VNQI Vanguard Global ex-US Real Estate Index Fund 0.32%
RWX SPDR Dow Jones International Real Estate ETF 0.59%
AGG iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF 0.08%
BND Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund 0.08%
SCHZ Schwab US Aggregate Bond ETF 0.06%
STIP iShares 0-5 Year TIPS Bond ETF 0.20%
VTIP Vanguard Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities Index Fund 0.10%
STPZ PIMCO 1-5 Year US TIPS Index Exchange-Traded Fund 0.20%
BNDX Vanguard Total International Bond Index Fund 0.20%
IGOV iShares International Treasury Bond ETF 0.35%
BWX SPDR Barclays International Treasury Bond ETF 0.50%

What kinds of reporting will I get as a client?

You can sign in to FutureAdvisor at any time to get a comprehensive dashboard showing your portfolio's past performance under our management, a timeline of all actions we've ever taken to improve your portfolio, and account-by-account portfolio holdings. In addition, the dashboard will display the health of the overall portfolio in terms of performance, fees, tax efficiency, and diversification.

The custodian institution, either Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, will also send you regular statements about your accounts, in addition to end-of-year tax documents.

Do you recommend dollar cost averaging?

In general, for clients with long time horizons, we do not recommend dollar cost averaging for large amounts of idle cash. Our view aligns with the findings in this Vanguard white paper.

However, if you would like to dollar cost average, we encourage you to set up regular, automated contributions to your accounts. Anytime the cash balance in a given account exceeds $300, FutureAdvisor will automatically invest the cash within two business days of deposit. If you are a Premium customer, instructions for setting up automated contributions via electronic funds transfer from a bank account are available on your Account Settings page.

Where do I access account statements and tax documents?

During the Premium enrollment process we will help you establish a Fidelity or TD Ameritrade online profile if you do not have one already. You will be able to use this profile to access account statements and tax documents.

Taxes

What are the tax implications of signing up for FutureAdvisor?

The vast majority of clients do not incur any tax impact in enrolling in FutureAdvisor. Once enrolled, every time we rebalance we will adhere to our Capital Gains and Tax Policy, which minimizes tax impact.

How does automated tax loss harvesting work & how much will I save?

Research shows that automated tax loss harvesting would save an estimated $6,057 per year over 20 years for a $200,000 initial investment (see methodology). We do this by continually monitoring each of your holdings and looking for positions with at least $1,000 in harvestable losses given current market prices. For these, we swap tax lots with losses with a preselected similar index fund of the same asset class. In this way, we bank the losses for tax purposes without changing the portfolio. At the end of the year we're able to use that loss to offset your gains for the year and/or ordinary income. Our algorithm also ensures that we do not incur wash sales in this process.

How does FutureAdvisor manage my assets in a tax-conscious way?

FutureAdvisor follows a stringent capital gains and tax policy in managing your taxable investments. When you enroll in Premium, you will see an analysis of the tax impact before your first portfolio rebalancing.

We hold each position that has unrealized short-term gain in excess of $500 or 10% of its market value (whichever is greater). We also hold each position with unrealized long-term gain in excess of $1,000 or 25% of its market value (whichever is greater). Capital gains aside, we only consider selling an existing position when doing so provides significant improvement to your portfolio-wide diversification, fee efficiency, or tax efficient asset placement.

Fees

How much does FutureAdvisor cost?

We charge a flat annual management fee of 0.5% of assets directly managed. This means that assets we don't directly trade in, such as your current employer 401(k), are not included for billing purposes.

Our 0.5% management fee is billed as quarterly installments of 0.125% of assets directly managed. The billing cycle begins in the month following your initial rebalance, and we deduct the fee from non-tax sheltered accounts whenever possible.

Will I incur trading commissions or other fees, especially during rebalancing?

You may incur some trading commissions during your portfolio's initial rebalance, as we divest some of your existing holdings to bring your portfolio into balance. Trading commissions are usually $0 for every subsequent rebalance, as we use commission-free ETFs almost exclusively.

In rebalancing, we take transaction fees into consideration and only choose to incur them if the projected benefits outweigh the costs. At TD Ameritrade, these are $9.99 per stock/ETF trade and a maximum of $24.00 per mutual fund trade, depending on the fund. At Fidelity Investments, these are $7.95 per stock/ETF trade and a maximum of $50 per mutual fund trade, depending on the fund.

For tax-loss harvesting, FutureAdvisor may incur the per-ETF trading commission of $7.95 or $9.99, but only when the calculated tax savings more than offset trading commissions.

Will my current brokerage charge me account closing and/or transfer out fees?

It depends on which brokerage you utilize prior to signing up for Premium. If your accounts are already held at Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, or are being transferred from Vanguard, these fees will not apply. Most other brokerages and mutual fund companies charge fees ranging from $50 to $100 per account to transfer. Check with your current brokerage for details.

Will I be charged account opening or account maintenance fees?

No, you will not. Fidelity and TD Ameritrade do not charge account opening fees or account maintenance fees on institutional accounts, the kind used by FutureAdvisor.

Do-it-yourself

Can I do it myself?

Yes you can. Simply sign up for FutureAdvisor for free and you'll get personalized account-by-account recommendations for your portfolio. For free, you can use this service indefinitely. Just contact your brokerage to enact the recommended trades.