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Best Robo Advisors

By Antonia Medlicott

  • Published: April 7, 2024
  • Edited by: Clare West
  • Last Update: 1 week ago
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My independent analysis of fees, assets, features, platforms, and ready-made portfolio returns to identify the best robo-advisors available in the UK. Read my full article for a complete breakdown of each platform's strengths and weaknesses.

My quick list

*We don’t make any money from the platforms for recommending them on this list. These are my totally impartial views that I think represent the best value for money.

4.5
Moneybox

Best historical performance on ready-made portfolios in a robo-advisor

Capital at risk.

4.5
InvestEngine

Lowest-cost robo-advisor with access to 590 ETFs

With investments, your capital is at risk. This could mean the value of your investments goes down as well as up.

3.0
Nutmeg

Best for range of account types and access to wealth managers

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. Tax treatments depend on your individual circumstances and may change in the future. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.

4.0
Moneyfarm

Best for 5.3% gross annualised yield on savings (variable)

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. Tax treatments depend on your individual circumstances and may change in the future. The value of your portfolio with Moneyfarm can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.

My tip: Robo-advisors are great platforms if you are completely new to investing. However, if you don’t mind choosing your risk level yourself, there are other platforms offering ready-made portfolios that have historically performed better. Skip to the bottom of this article for more detail.

*Not sure how to choose? Skip to my tips on how to choose the best robo-advisor.


4.5

Moneybox

Best historical performance on ready-made portfolios in a robo-advisor

Capital at risk.

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Reasons to use

  • Ready-made portfolios have historically done better than any other robo-advisors
  • Cash ISA interest rate of 5.16% AER
  • Good savings tools
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Reasons to avoid

  • £1 monthly subscription fee
  • Limited to mobile app
  • Does not match you to a portfolio

Antonia says

This isn’t strictly a robo-advisor, and it definitely isn’t cheap, so why have I made it my top choice?

Moneybox Cash ISA

Moneybox has the best-performing ready-made portfolios cumulatively for the last 5 years in any ISA online. That means that they are still an excellent starting option for a complete beginner who would rather have their investments managed for them, and this would have represented the best return on investment while still being shielded from the taxman.

Moneybox also offers 5.16% AER for the first 12 months on their Cash ISA. So, while they won’t match you with a risk-rated portfolio, this is still a great option for lots of savers and investors.

Use this if

  • You are seeking a Lifetime ISA to save for your first home
  • You historically find it difficult to save and would benefit from round-ups and payday boosts
  • You like the additional option of being able to choose your own investments
  • You are looking for the best returns on a ready-made portfolio in an ISA

Fees

  • £1 subscription fee after the first 3 months
  • 0.45% platform fee
  • Annual fund provider costs 0.09% – 0.88%
  • 0.45% FX fee for US stocks

Scores

Fees:

3.5

Trading platform:

4.0

Account opening:

5.0

Research:

3.5

Education:

3.5

Customer service:

3.5

Read full review

Read full review >
4.5

InvestEngine

Lowest-cost robo-advisor with access to 590 ETFs

With investments, your capital is at risk. This could mean the value of your investments goes down as well as up.

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Reasons to use

  • Very low cost with zero fees for DIY investing
  • DIY and fully managed portfolios
  • 590 ETFs to choose from
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Reasons to avoid

  • Limited education
  • Only ETFs available
  • No live chat
  • No historical performance data available

Antonia says:

These are the lowest fees you will find anywhere. Low fees mean you get to keep more of your investment gains, so that’s a major plus.

The fees are at their lowest when you choose your own investments. However, in the 3 months since I opened my account, my DIY portfolio has continued to outperform the ready-made option. Head over to my main review for more details on this.

It’s important to point out that InvestEngine has refused to provide us with data relating to the historical performance of its ready-made portfolios.

This platform is limited to ETFs; however, ETFs are an easy way to gain exposure to hundreds of assets, offering immediate diversification.

Use this if

  • You are a long-term investor looking for very low costs
  • You are happy to only invest in ETFs
  • You may like the option to choose your own funds

Fees

  • Zero account fees ISA, GIA and Business Account
  • 0.15% SIPP fee capped at £200
  • Zero fees on DIY portfolio
  • 0.25% managed portfolio fee
  • ETF fees start at 0.03%
  • Market spread averaging 0.07%

ETF Investments

  • ESG
  • Thematics
  • Dividend focused funds
  • Emerging markets
  • Small cap

Scores

Fees:

5.0

Trading platform:

4.0

Account opening:

4.5

Research:

4.0

Education:

3.0

Customer service:

4.0

For a detailed analysis of InvestEngine services, check out our review for 2024

Read full review >
3.0

Nutmeg

Best for range of account types and access to wealth managers

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. Tax treatments depend on your individual circumstances and may change in the future. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.

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Reasons to use

  • Very beginner friendly
  • Lifetime ISA available
  • Access to wealth managers
cross

Reasons to avoid

  • 3 working days for funds to clear in your Nutmeg account
  • £500 minimum starting amount
  • Limited to ETFs
  • Below-average historical performance on ready-made portfolios

Antonia says:

When it comes to their medium and high-risk portfolios, Nutmeg’s past 5-year returns are only beaten by Moneybox in the robo-advisor space, although these results are less favourable when compared to the entire industry.

NutmegTotalPortfolio copy

The advantage of investing with Nutmeg over Moneybox is that they will take you through a series of questions that are designed to match you with your ideal portfolio. They are also lower-cost than Moneybox, with an account of £5,000 incurring an annual fee of £35 compared to Moneybox, where you will pay £50.13.

So, if you do want that extra help deciding where to place your money, this is still a viable option. However, I would caution against underestimating the importance of portfolio performance.

Use this if

  • You are looking for a very simple option where all the decisions are made for you
  • You would like to access complimentary assistance from a wealth manager

Fees

  • 0.7% – 1.15% for portfolios ranging from fully managed to fixed allocation.

Investments

  • Ready-made portfolios
  • Socially responsible investing
  • Thematic Investing

Scores

Fees:

4.0

Trading platform:

4.5

Account opening:

4.5

Research:

4.0

Education:

3.0

Customer service:

5.0

Click here to read a full review

Read full review >
4.0

Moneyfarm

Best for 5.3% gross annualised yield on savings (variable)

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. Tax treatments depend on your individual circumstances and may change in the future. The value of your portfolio with Moneyfarm can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.

check

Reasons to use

  • Good place to earn income on savings you may need to access
  • Flexible ISA
  • Complimentary access to investment consultants
cross

Reasons to avoid

  • Below-average historical performance on ready-made portfolios
  • £500 minimum investment
  • Expensive for small portfolios

Antonia says:

Below-average performance of the ready-made portfolios at Moneyfarm, coupled with higher-than-average fees, is a cause for concern. However, there is plenty of choice for those who would like to take a bit more of an active role, with the added bonus of a team of investment consultants on hand with complimentary advice.

Moneyfarm mobile app

Moneyfarm has recently launched direct access to stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. There is also Liquidity+, a money market fund that invests in very low-risk debt securities and is currently offering a 5.3% variable, making this a good option for funds you may need to get your hands on.

However, a word of advice. You have two options for a ‘done for you’ service here, one which is passively managed and one which is actively managed. The actively managed portfolio is, as you would expect, the more expensive of the two, but our analysis has shown that this won’t necessarily result in greater gains. Read my full review for more information on this.

Use this if

  • You feel your finances would benefit from the advice of a human investment consultant.
  • You may like to branch out into picking your own investments alongside a fully managed service.

Fees

  • £3.95 flat fee on all share dealing trades
  • £5.95 trades on bonds
  • 0.70% FX fee
  • ISA custody fee of 0.35% capped at £45 a year for share investing
  • Management fee 0.75% – 0.25%
  • Underlying fund fee 0.20%
  • Market spread 0.10%

Investments

  • Ready-made portfolios
  • Bonds
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • UK Mutual funds

Scores

Fees:

3.5

Trading platform:

4.0

Account opening:

4.5

Research:

3.5

Education:

3.0

Customer service:

4.5

Read full review here

Read full review >

What is a ready-made portfolio?


A bit like a ready-made meal that you can select straight off the shelf, a ready-made portfolio is a collection of assets that have been selected by an investment expert. They utilise financial planning and investment strategies in order to provide investors with a simplified way to enter the market in a diversified way and in line with their appetite for risk. Investors simply select their risk level themselves, or alternatively, are recommended a portfolio by a robo-advisor.

For more information on ready-made portfolios and to see a complete picture of performance across the entire industry, click here.

Ready-made portfolio performance


Ultimately, the goal of investing is to grow your wealth, and in the case of a robo-advisor, this all comes down to the performance of the ready-made portfolio you are matched with.

Here at Investing Insiders, we have conducted independent research into the performance of the portfolios for 1, 3 and 5 years cumulatively so you can see where your money would have grown the most during that time period. Click the toggle at the top of the graph to change the time frame.

It’s important to remember that while past performance can provide you with insight into how effectively the portfolio in question is being managed, it is not a guarantee of future results.

How to choose the best robo advisor for you


Starting out with an idea of what you require from a robo advisor is advisable. Are you simply looking for something that is really easy and won’t take up your valuable time? Or are you looking to grow your wealth as much as possible? Do you want to learn about investing so you can take over the reins and manage your investments yourself or are you happy to have an expert manage the whole process for you?

Bear in mind that if you are a more proactive type of investor, a robo-advisor may not be the best fit for you. Even the platforms that offer assets such as stocks and funds in addition to ready-made portfolios will be fairly limiting to anyone with any sort of experience with the markets.

If a robo advisor is the direction you would like to take, then consider how important the following factors are to you:

Fees:

I have included a direct comparison of what each platform would charge for a year of services above to help you with this. Remember that cheaper isn’t always better. The most cost-effective platform is still only as good as the performance of the portfolios it offers (unless you are picking your own investments).

Performance:

The idea of investing is to grow your wealth. If you are planning to invest in a ready-made portfolio where all the investments are managed on your behalf, then it’s important to know that the portfolio will help you achieve your financial goals.

Do not assume that ready-made portfolios, managed by professionals, will always do well.

Our independent analysis has highlighted that these portfolios are underperforming the market, and in most cases, a simple tracker fund would have yielded better results and, in many cases, cost less. Where these portfolios excel, is in managing your risk and keeping volatility to a minimum.

Minimum investment:

You may not have a large starting capital for your portfolio. There are some robo-advisors on this list which will allow you to start with just £1, while others will require an upfront investment of £500.

Account types:

This is very important, especially for those seeking a tax wrapper for their investments. Tax wrappers, such as ISAs, ensure that any gains you make from your investments are not subject to tax.

Ease of use:

This is less important for robo-advisors, as my extensive research has revealed that all these robo-advisors, and the ones not included on this list, have been designed with ease of use in mind. These are all beginner-friendly options that are easy to navigate.

Customer support:

I reach out to customer support on every platform I review. Results are variable, with some platforms offering instant responses while others may keep you waiting a couple of days.

Security and regulation:

Don’t concern yourself too much with this aspect, as I will never recommend a platform that I don’t deem safe. I check authorisation and regulation on all platforms as well as account access security and whether client funds are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Is This The Best Way to Invest Your Money?


In short, no! This may be the easiest way to invest, but each and every one of these ready-made portfolios has failed to beat or even match the S&P 500, which means your money would have grown more in a simple tracker fund in both the short and long term. In fact, our senior equity analyst had the following to say:

user-img

John Choong

Senior Equity Analyst
quote

Ready-made portfolios, like the ones curated by brokerage platforms, make it simple for beginner investors to invest. However, it’s important to note that investors can generate much higher returns with an equal amount of risk by investing in other index funds, such as ones that track market indices like the S&P 500, the US stock market benchmark.

There is an abundance of brokerage platforms that provide investors with the option to invest in such index funds. So, even though a platform like Moneyfarm doesn’t have its own in-house S&P 500 fund, they’re more likely than not to have an S&P 500 fund run by Vanguard or Blackrock.

Not only do these funds generate much higher returns over a long period of time, but they’re almost more cost-efficient than the in-house ready-made portfolios recommended by investment platforms.

That said, the US market tends to have more volatility and is of higher risk than perhaps the more ‘conservative’ ready-made funds curated in-house by these platforms. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are other, less volatile funds out there that still generate higher returns, such as Vanguard’s FTSE All-World, among others.

Cost Comparison Table


Costs are calculated as a total for 1 year and exclude fees stated in each ready-made portfolio’s fact sheet, such as the annual management fee, commission fees, and bonus fees, which may be substantial and impact overall returns. Hidden fees such as inactivity fees, platform fees, and/or foreign exchange fees have also not been included.

Actively Managed vs. Passively Managed


As you can see from the table above, you will pay more for an actively managed portfolio. This is because actively managed portfolios require regular human intervention in order to tweak the asset allocation within the portfolio in response to changes in the market. Here at Investing Insiders, we are currently conducting analysis into whether having your portfolio actively managed is worth the additional cost you will incur.

Whilst this research is ongoing, preliminary results from 2023 on Moneyfarm portfolios have indicated that the passively managed portfolios actually outperformed the actively managed portfolios. This is especially true for lower-risk portfolios.

What is a robo-advisor?


A robo-advisor is an online investment platform that is designed to make investing as easy as possible. They are a solution for people who would like to invest but don’t know where to start and would rather avoid the cost of a wealth manager.

Robo-advisors aim to keep costs low when compared to traditional wealth management by employing algorithms, hence requiring minimal human intervention. They typically use data collected when a user opens their account in order to offer tailored advice on how to invest their money in line with their financial goals and risk tolerance.

Typically, an account is very easy to set up, requiring the user to answer a series of questions about their financial situation and future goals via an online survey. This information is then used to offer investment strategies that are inexpensive.

How I score the platforms on this list


Robo advisors are intended as a solution for beginners and intermediate investors looking for low-cost opportunities to grow their wealth. With this in mind, I have personally downloaded, deposited, and invested funds on all the platforms on this list. There are additional robo-advisors that I have tested in this way that have not made it onto my list, such as Wealthify. This is because, for whatever reason, I have not found them worthy of recommendation.

To find out more about each of these platforms, you can go to the main reviews, where I go into considerable detail on the features, fees, performance, and services of each platform.

For more information on how we conduct our reviews and score the platforms, click here

Ready-made portfolios that have performed better


Outside of robo-advisors, the platform that has achieved the best returns over the past 5 years, net of fees, with a ready-made portfolio, is eToro. The portfolio that has performed the best is called Four Largest Tech Giants (@Four-Horsemen). Before you rush to buy shares in that portfolio, it is important to know that this is a very risky investment, as this portfolio only holds 4 assets and is lacking in any sort of diversification:

  • MSFT – Microsoft
  • GOOGL – Alphabet
  • AMZN – Amazon
  • AAPL – Apple

However, had you held shares in that portfolio for the last five years, you would have experienced returns of 230.2%. When you pitch that against the best-performing portfolio from the robo-advisor category of 64.9% (Moneybox’s adventurous portfolio), you see just how well it has done.

Even if you were to take a less risky strategy and decide to put your money into an index fund that tracks the S&P 500, you would have returned 83.2%, which still outperforms the top robo-advisor portfolio.

What our independent analysis has revealed is that, more often than not, ready-made portfolios are underperforming the market.

FAQs

So commonly asked questions about Robo Advisors

Moneybox has the best returns of all the platforms on this list; however, it is missing some of the robo-advisory services, such as identifying your risk profile and matching you to an appropriate portfolio. The second highest-performing robo-advisor is Nutmeg.

If your major obstacle to starting your investing journey is confidence, then a robo advisor is a great place to start. Also, robo-advisors will often offer additional services, such as high-interest savings accounts and tools to help you put money aside for investing. However, the cost associated with these services will start to erode your gains over time, and therefore you should be aware of fees. InvestEngine is one of the cheapest ways to invest, but it only offers ETFs.

The biggest downfall of robo-advisors is almost certainly the performance of their ready-made portfolios. Some of the options I’ve listed also offer access to tracker funds and ETFs, which, whilst more volatile, will almost certainly increase your gains over the long term.