WiseBanyan was founded in the fall of 2013 by Herbert Moore and Vick Zhou who started the company after seeing incentives between financial advisors and clients were often improperly aligned. They both have first-hand experience with this issue from working in asset management and investment banking. They later were colleagues at a quantitative asset management firm. Due to these improperly aligned accounts, which usually resulted in high fees, unnecessary tax consequences, and unreasonable account minimums they decided to build a company that was not incentivized to earn money at their clients' expense.
- No fees or minimum deposits to start
- SIPC insured and more
- Rollover your accounts
WiseBanyan is one of the new robo-investing firms and they are truly a free service; therefore, they are something you should definitely consider. So let's take a few minutes to review what they have to offer, the good and the bad. We'll start with the good, then in the next section we'll talk about a few areas where we feel they could use some improvement.
No Fees Or Minimum Deposits To Start
With WiseBanyan, there are no management fees, no trading fees, no rebalancing fees, no dividend reinvestment fees and no minimum deposit to start. The only requirements are that you are at least 18 years old, you must have a permanent U.S. address, a U.S. social security number and a bank account from a U.S. bank. You will also be asked to supply some additional personal information such as your net worth, income and investing experience. However, you won't be subjected to a credit check, just supporting documents as proof of identity. Then all that's left is to fill out their risk questionnaire, but it's very short. This will help them assign you a risk score so they can determine the proper portfolio asset allocation for you.
SIPC Insured And More
With WiseBanyan, your investments are protected. They are a securities investor protection corporation (SIPC) to protect you from losses that are the result of financial failure on the part of the brokerage company. Held in a brokerage account in your name with a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Rollover Your Accounts
With WiseBanyan, you can easily rollover your existing accounts and have them managed for free. Their client specialists will help you transfer your outside brokerage, retirement and/or trust accounts in just minutes. You can also use WiseBanyan to rollover your old 401(k) and 403(b) accounts. This will keep you from having to pay the fees that most traditionally managed accounts of this kind charge, but it will also keep you from having to spend your valuable time managing them as well.
A new feature that WiseBanyan has created is their WiseHarvesting service. It is a tax-loss harvesting tool that captures small losses and applies them to your taxable income. This helps reduce your tax liability at the end of the year.
WiseBanyan has created a new feature called Milestones, which are goals that you set. This helps their automated system know how to invest your money in order to help meet your investment goals.
- Website is not very intuitive
- Aggressive profile creation
- Lack of user control
While many appreciate how quickly WiseBanyan gets started, there are some control issues and fears to be aware of. So far, WiseBanyan appears to be a reputable robo-advisor, but before you make any final decisions, let's go over a few of the areas we feel they could use some improvement:
Website Is Not Very Intuitive
The WiseBanyan website is not very intuitive. This means that it can be tough to navigate because it is not like the traditional websites that most people are used to. For example, there is no main top navigation bar. You can find all the dedicated pages in the footer, but that is assuming their customers will bother looking there and assuming they will take the time to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page before clicking off their site and be on their way to one of their competitors. However, if their customers do actually make their way to the footer and click on the various pages, they might still be a little frustrated as the pages really don't give much detail.
Aggressive Profile Creation
Recently, WiseBanyan did away with their login-waitlisting, which is a plus and definitely helps speed up the profile creation process. For the passive customer the profile creation might feel a bit too aggressive. WiseBanyan requests your personal information before you even have access to browse the stock-market and research ticker symbols. I suppose this makes sense as it is an auto-investor type system and the investment algorithms makes decisions contingent on the information that you provide. For someone who wants to have a bit more control on their investments, WiseBanyan and other auto-advisor type systems may not be for you.
Lack of User Control
So this is true for all auto-advisor companies, not just WiseBanyan. Nut if you like to have control of where your money goes and when to buy and sell than this type of service is not just for you.
The Bottom Line
WiseBanyan is the world's first free financial advisor. They provide professional online wealth management services using powerful algorithms and software to create a faster and more transparent experience. The WiseBanyan team is always in the background analyzing data and research to provide the most accurate data possible. Their investment team designs, recommends and manages their clients' investment portfolios to help them reach their short- and long-term financial goals.
Interestingly enough, the WiseBanyan name has a unique meaning. The "Wise" part of the name is based on their mission, which was to build the best possible way to help their clients maximize their wealth. And the "Banyan" part of their name is from the banyan tree, which has two sets of roots: foundational roots that grow into the trunk and the aerial roots which strengthen the trunk by growing from the branches into the ground. WiseBanyan used this analogy of the banyan tree as a symbol of the growth, strength and stability they want their company to represent.
WiseBanyan definitely delivers on their promise of free automated portfolio management. However, they are still a very new company who is utilizing a rather new type of business model; therefore, only time will tell if it can be sustained. With that being said, they have a good online reputation and it's only $1 to get started, so we have no problem giving them a good recommendation. If you like to have a little bit more control of your investments, or any control at all for that matter, than this may not be the service for you. Again, WiseBanyan is not alone in this new industry of auto-advisors. We encourage you to perform your own due diligence to determine whether or not they are the right fit for you and your particular financial situation.