Comparing Betterment and Vanguard: A Financial Planners’ Comparison

Betterment vs Vanguard A Financial Planners Comparison


When it comes to financial planning, investors have several options – including Betterment and Vanguard. Both are great platforms for reaching long-term savings goals, but when it comes down to it, which one should you use?

In this article, we’ll compare Betterment vs Vanguard for their different financial products, fees, customer service and more in order to help potential investors decide which platform is best for their individual needs. We will discuss the pros and cons of each investment platform so that you can make an informed decision about which one is best suited for your personal financial goals.

By the end of our comparison we hope that you will have a better understanding of what each company can offer and whether they are suitable options that could help you reach your desired outcome:

  • Pros of Betterment
  • Cons of Betterment
  • Pros of Vanguard
  • Cons of Vanguard

Overview of Betterment

Betterment is a financial services company that offers both robo-advisor and personal financial service. It provides a relatively cost effective way for investors to manage their investments through Automatic Investing, Automatic Rebalancing, and Tax Loss Harvesting. This section will provide an overview of the company, its services, and advantages of using Betterment as a financial planner.

Investment Strategies

Betterment’s investment strategies are easy to understand, yet sophisticated and tailored to each individual. Once your financial goals and risk tolerance have been determined, Betterment will automatically allocate your portfolio’s investments between a combination of ETFs (exchange traded funds) from Vanguard, Schwab, iShares and BlackRock. Heavily emphasizing diversification, Betterment will also invest in different asset classes such as domestic stocks and bonds as well as international markets for a more balanced portfolio. All Betterment portfolios have the option to take advantage of either tax-loss harvesting, or Smart Beta investing.

Tax-Loss Harvesting (tax efficient portfolios) helps actively manage potential tax liabilities through the using algorithmic product designed to find assets that aren’t performing well and replace them with similar assets that can help reduce capital gains later on down the road.

Smart Beta investing uses predetermined rules across five fundamental factors: value, volatility, momentum, size and quality operating with an additional layer of ETFs which monitors trends aimed at higher yields compared with traditional market allocations.


Betterment’s fees are quite simple and easy to understand. The basic fee structure consists of two parts – an annual 0.25% Advisory Fee that covers investing advice and portfolio management, and a minimum deposit fee of $0.

The Advisory Fee is charged on a monthly basis and is calculated from the total market value of your Betterment account balance each month – no matter which products or services you use. This means the amount you pay each month will depend on how much money you have invested in Betterment, since it charges each year on assets under management (AUM).

The $0 minimum deposit fee applies to any balance below $10,000 in assets managed by Betterment regardless of account type. That said, if your balance surpasses $10,000— either through deposits or appreciation—Betterment starts charging its annual advisory fee at the same rate of 0.25%. Keep in mind that this fee applies to all accounts (including taxable, IRAs, trust accounts), as well as all services included (such as Fractional Shares).

In addition to the flat yearly advisory fee and minimum deposit fee, Betterment also offers a dividend reinvesting service for customers who choose to have dividends automatically reinvested into their investment portfolio at no additional charge. You may also be subject to tax implications associated with dividends paid by companies held in your Betterment portfolio when applicable depending on the type of account you have with them and taxes applicable for this type of investment activity in your jurisdiction. Finally, please note that foreign exchange fees may apply when trading outside U.S.-based markets or funds due to currency exchange rate fluctuations incurred during conversions.

Customer Service

Betterment offers 24/7 customer service through email, phone, and chat. They also have an online help center with FAQs and answers to common questions. The company’s advisors are certified financial planners and you can access them online or by phone during business hours.

Vanguard also has a robust customer service program with advisors who can answer questions about investing, taxes, retirement planning, insurance, budgeting and more. Customer service representatives can be reached by phone or mail during business hours, and they also offer 24/7 email support. Additionally, Vanguard has a library of educational materials including videos and articles available on their website.

Overview of Vanguard

Vanguard is one of the largest and most popular financial planners in the world, and they offer a wide range of services and products. Investors can choose from a variety of funds and ETFs, including Vanguard index funds, as well as active management funds. Vanguard also provides access to a growing list of services, such as retirement planning and college savings plans.

In this article, we will review the benefits of working with Vanguard compared to other financial advisors.

Investment Strategies

Vanguard’s core offering is centered around two types of investment strategies: index funds and actively managed funds.

Index Funds – Vanguard’s flagship funds are well-diversified index funds, which provide access to broad stock and bond markets at low cost. These low-cost mutual funds give investors access to a wide range of equity markets and asset categories, tracking the performance of stock and bond indexes such as the S&P 500 or Barclays Aggregate Bond Index. Index funds don’t attempt to beat the market, but rather match it, enabling investors to make their money work for them over the long term with minimal costs.

Actively Managed Funds – In contrast to index funds that simply track investments released by noted financial firms or support indexes, Vanguard also offers actively managed funds. These mutual funds are designed by professional managers that use their research expertise and traditional investment strategies in order to generate higher returns than what an index fund could ordinarily purchase. Unlike index investing, however, these returns come at a higher cost due to higher management fees as well as transaction costs associated with buying and selling securities within the fund portfolio.


Vanguard is considered low-fee index investing on their own terms. Vanguard funds have the lowest cost structure of any mutual funds in the industry, making them ideal for a retirement portfolio. With average expense ratios of around 0.07%, Vanguard’s funds are more than half the cost of other investment firms’ offerings. Along with that, they have no minimums on most index funds, meaning you can begin investing with any amount of capital you wish to start out with.

When selecting a fund, investors should compare all costs associated with their desired accounts and ETFs in order to choose the best options for achieving their financial goals at the lowest cost.

Customer Service

When considering Vanguard vs Betterment, customer service is an important factor to consider.

Vanguard’s customer service team is available Monday – Friday only, which can be inconvenient for customers who need help outside of these hours. Customers can contact Vanguard via phone or email. They also offer help with basic account setup and transfers as well as assistance with more complex retirement planning and portfolio advice.

In comparison, Betterment’s customer support team is available 7 days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Time, with the ability to reach out by phone or email. Their advisors are experts in IRS regulations, taxation principles, and financial planning strategies so they are well-equipped to answer all your questions and concerns.


When it comes to finding the right financial planner, there are many factors to consider. Two of the most popular platforms are Betterment and Vanguard, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. In this article, we’ll compare the two platforms in terms of their benefits, fees, investment options and more to help you make an informed decision.

Investment Strategies

Investment strategy is a key factor to consider when comparing Betterment vs Vanguard. Generally, Betterment and Vanguard offer similar types of investments. Both offer stocks, bonds and mutual funds, with international investing options available in most cases.

However, there are some differences in their investment strategies. Betterment uses a modernized approach to investing by leveraging technology and artificial intelligence to automate asset allocation across its range of ETF investments, which are priced lower than mutual funds. Additionally, Betterment has around five years’ more experience with digital advice services and offers more goal-based investment services than many offerings from traditional advisors at banks or brokerages.

Vanguard takes a more traditional approach to investing with its portfolio of index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Generally indexed to the returns of a given stock market or bond market index, Vanguard’s approach seeks return through tracking the performance of its underlying securities but avoiding individual stock selection. Some advisors prefer this strategy since it limits risk while still providing broad exposure to markets over time – especially those who have low risk appetites due the longevity of their holdings or where downside market volatility can be tougher to stomach.


When choosing a financial advisor, fees are an important factor to consider. Betterment and Vanguard both offer tiers of service, each with different fees. Betterment has two plans: Digital and Premium. The Digital plan charges a flat annual fee of 0.25%, while the premium plan is 0.40%.

Vanguard has a tiered fee structure based on account balance, but they cap their fees at 0.30%. The caps kick in with balances of $500,000 or more for the retirement plan accounts and with balances of $50,000 or more for other investment accounts. Vanguard also offers financial advisors for an additional cost who can help you make more specific decisions about asset allocation and tax planning- both digital platforms also offer personalized advice but not from a registered financial advisor (the fee is built into the overall fee).

Both automation tools have no setup or account transfer fees, although Betterment does have an inactive account fee of $100 per year if your balance stays below $2,000 after one year. When looking at all the facts regarding their respective costs it’s important to remember that some services offered by one company may be missing from another – so be sure to research thoroughly so you can make an informed decision when selecting your apparatus service provider!

Customer Service

Customer service is a crucial aspect that can make or break a business. It is important for businesses to provide their customers with friendly and efficient service in order to maintain customer loyalty and trust, and to ensure customer satisfaction. Evaluating customer service is a worthwhile process as it helps businesses identify areas of improvement and ultimately increase customer retention, sales conversion rate, and customer satisfaction.

When comparing different customer services, there are certain key aspects to consider: response time, quality of interactions, accuracy of information provided, ease of navigation through the system, flair for problem solving/troubleshooting, overall experience with the service received, etc. It’s also valuable to keep track of customer feedback such as comments left on social media platforms or surveys done by the customers themselves. Such data can be used as indicators for potential weak points in the business’s services that then need to be improved upon in order to offer better solutions that meet customers’ needs.

Comparing different customer services will help businesses recognize good practices and make improvements when necessary in order to provide their customers with an overall positive experience; this will also reflect in better performance as well as more loyal customers.


The decision on which financial service provider is right for your needs will depend largely on your personal preferences and financial situation. Betterment and Vanguard are two of the most popular online services around, showcasing their strengths in a variety of areas such as costs, customer support, product selection, security and more.

Both Betterment and Vanguard offer excellent solutions for long-term investment goals; however, when it comes to active trading or working with an established portfolio, Vanguard seems to be the more comprehensive choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a robust set of portfolio management tools in addition to personalized advice, Betterment may be a better fit.

Ultimately, your experience may vary depending on which services you require from either provider. We recommend that you read through all available options from both companies before making a final decision. After all, investing is a major life decision that should be taken seriously and weighs heavily on each individual based on their own financial goals.

Kylie Mahar

Kylie Mahar is a financial guru who loves to help others save money. She writes for, and is always looking for new ways to help people make the most of their money. Kylie is passionate about helping others, and she firmly believes that financial security is one of the most important things in life.

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