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Acorns Review

securely through Acorns's website

1 Minute Review

This Fintech startup advocates small value investment, making it affordable for even a Tom, Dick or Harry, take a plunge into the world of investing. It simplifies the whole process of investing and is available for U.S. residents, and the Australians through its Acorns Australia unit. This smartphone app makes investing a cakewalk even for that most inexperienced traders and opens up the world of investment to micro-investors, who can invest the spare change from their routine spending.

Best For

  • Microinvestors
  • Beginners, which it calls the up-and-coming
  • College Students

Pros

  • Automated approach makes investing an automatic choice
  • Cheaper than traditional mutual funds and DIY ETFs
  • Cash back from your spending with Acorns’ partners through Found Money program

Cons

  • Expensive relative to many other automated investment tools such as Weathfront and Betterment
  • Limited asset classes, with just six available for investing
  • Only individual taxable accounts are on offer, whereas an IRA or 401(k) account is advantageous from the tax perspective.

Acorns, which goes with the taglines ‘Invest Spare Change’  and ‘Anyone can Grow Wealth’, flaunts its association with Dr. Harry Markowitz, an award-winning economist and the pioneer of the modern portfolio theory. Markotwitz is projected as the key resource behind the firm’s portfolio building.

The firm’s portfolio consists of ETFs from well-known companies such as Vanguard, Pimco and BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK).

The firm advocates investing through varied methods such as micro investing, recurring investing, one-time investing, found money and referrals. The recurring investing gives you the option of investing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, depending on your choice.

In order to do micro investing, a client has to connect his/her accounts and cards used for day-to-day purchases. After the purchase, the spending is rounded off to the nearest dollar. The spare change is then used for investing.

Found money is an option, wherein when you shop with Acorns Found Money partners, they automatically invest in your Acorns account. When you tap the Beats By Dre from the Found Money screen, 1.2 percent of your purchase will be invested into your future.

 

This Irvine, California-based company employs about 100+ people, has about 32 standing desks. It is backed by Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL), Rakuten, Greycroft,  e.Ventures among others.

Who Use Acorns?

  • Beginners & Passive Investors
  • Students
  • For the Spendthrift

Beginners & Passive Investors

Novice traders who are allergic to complicated trading methodologies, tools and platforms may see Acorns as a whiff of fresh air, as it simplifies the whole process of investing and brings it to their fingertips.

The mobile-only platform is easy to use and automates investment decisions based on some responses regarding preferences and disposition toward risk one keys in.

Students

Acorns is a Godsend for students, who are otherwise kept busy with their core responsibility of lectures, assignments, and assessments. What more, they have the fee waived off for four years if they prove their credentials as a student.

Spendthrifts

In the consumerist world of today, regular spending is a given. Acorns capitalizes on this extravagant spending habits of millennials by making their spending habit as a channel for routing money into your investment accounts through its Round-Ups program.

Commission

Once a person starts investing, he/she pays $1 a month for accounts under $5,000, and those who have accounts over $5,000, need to pay $0.25 per year.

There isn’t a mandatory minimum amount needed to open an account. However, for Round-Ups, which is investing your spare change, or for one-time investments, you must add up to at least $5.

College students having a valid .edu address can use Acorns free of cost for up to four years from the date of registration.

Research

Grow Magazine, an online personal finance publication, specifically targeting the millennials, has several sections such as Money 101, news, How-tos and interviews. These simplify complex investing topics for investors. Some of the recently published topics include:

  • The difference between an IRA and 401(K) account
  • 5 simple ways to cut corners so that you can retire young
  • Should you refinance your student loans?

Asset Classes (tradable securities)

ETFs, with the underlying asset classes being stocks of large companies, small companies and emerging markets, real estate, government and corporate bonds.

Based on risk preferences, the firm categorizes portfolios into conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive and aggressive. While a conservative portfolio would be bond-heavy, an aggressive portfolio is heavily weighted towards stocks, specifically of small companies having high return potential.

Asset Class Conservative Moderately Conservative Moderate Moderately Aggressive Aggressive
Large Co. Stocks 15% 15% 18% 20% 20%
Small Co. Stocks 5% 23% 24% 30% 35%
Emerging Market Stocks 8% 10% 20%
Real Estate Stocks 5% 10% 10% 10% 10%
Government Bonds 35% 25% 15% 8%
Corporate Bonds 25% 20% 15% 7%
International Large Co. Stocks 5% 7% 10% 15% 15%

Final Thoughts

This robo-advisor could be the right option for young, inexperienced wannabe investors who wish to be introduced to the world of investing, with little or no risk whatsoever. The risk preferences of investors are taken care of by the choice of the type of portfolio keyed in by them initially. Additionally, the automated trading option available through one’s smartphone makes it an attractive proposition for youngsters, who shun cumbersome and complicated procedures.

As there is another side to every coin, Acorns has its shortcomings in the form of very little research, data, and tools except for the mobile interface. Another setback is that an Acorns account holder cannot take advantage of tax-advantaged accounts such as retirement account. So it can be had as a supplement to your tax-advantaged savings options.

Use Acorns if:

  • You are just getting started with investing and you want the system to take over
  • You have very little investment dollars, as you get started with investing
  • You find savings nearly impossible due to your extravagant spending habits

Don’t Use Acorns if:

  • You are an advanced trader wanting sophisticated software, tools, and techniques to actively manage your investment
  • You are mindful of the $1 per month fee on your investment when your account has under $5,000.