The Ultimate Robo Advisor Singapore Comparison Guide: StashAway VS AutoWealth VS Syfe VS GrabInvest and More
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Seedly Robo Advisor Guide

The Ultimate Robo Advisor Singapore Comparison Guide: StashAway VS AutoWealth VS Syfe VS GrabInvest and More

Kenneth Lou
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Latest Update to Robo Advisors

Smartly’s Closure and Steps For Investors To Take

Smartly has announced that it will be ceasing its operations.

Based on their latest email sent out to Smartly investors, all Smartly accounts will be closed from 18 April 2020 onwards.

For investors who would like to receive digital advice from another service provider, they have worked out an arrangement with StashAway.

All Smartly customers will enjoy a 50% management discount for the first six months, up to the first S$50,000.

Note: this is only applicable to new customers only.

If you’re interested, you can sign up via this link.

And if you have any other questions, please contact Smartly:

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: +65 6332 9081 or +65 6332 9084 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)

What Do We Know About GrabInvest

As more financial services are increasingly going digital, we’ve also seen the advent of robo-advisors in the investment scene.

After DBS moved into the robo-advisor scene with its digiPortfolio, guess which emerald giant decided to join in the fray recently?

Grab Logo On White Board
Source: Straits Times

Yep.

Grab recently acquired Bento, a Singapore-based robo-advisory startup and intends to offer retail wealth management and investment solutions under a new core business called GrabInvest.

Not much has been revealed about GrabInvest save for the fact that it will offer cash management and portfolio-based financial solutions.

From whatever information we can find, we understand that Grab’s robo-advisor intends to adopt a low-cost model with full disclosures on fees.

Just like GrabPay and GrabInsurance, we’re pretty sure that GrabInvest will be hosted on the Grab mega-app — a platform that users are already familiar with.

In simpler words, this will probably be Grab’s way of making investments accessible to customers “irrespective of their wallet size”.

If you’re wondering who is Bento, they are a Singapore-based B2B2C and B2C digital wealth management solutions provider.

And they’ve been live since October 2016.

In terms of regulations, their B2C (Business to Consumer) entity is licensed under the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as a Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC).

With this license already in place, we’re pretty sure that we’ll see GrabInvest products launched on the Grab app in the first half of 2020.

Bookmark this article as we’ll be updating it with more information about GrabInvest once details are released!

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If you’re an investor currently looking at the robo-advisor scene, here’s a detailed comparison of some of the major robo-advisor players in the market for your consideration.

Note: we’ve omitted FSM Maps and PhillipCapital SMART Portfolio from this comparison as they both behave more like a risk-based unit trust portfolio recommendation than as a true robo advisor.

Disclaimer: This non-sponsored article is updated as of 25 March 2020. This article does not constitute financial advice but is an unbiased comparison between the robo-advisors in the Singapore market today.


TL;DR: Which Robo Advisor Should You Use?

Robo advisors are a low-cost investment solution, but there’s more to choosing a robo advisor than just the lowest fees.

Here’s what else you should be looking out for when choosing a robo-advisor:

Robo AdvisorPlatformFees Per YearMinimum Investment
AutoWealthWeb0.5% + USD$18S$3,000
DBS digiPortfolioWeb0.75%S$1,000
EndowusWeb0.6% (up to S$200k)
to
0.25% (more than S$5 Mil)
S$10k
GrabInvestTBC
Kristal.AIWeb and Mobile App0% (up to US$50k)
to
0.3% (more than US$50k)
None
OCBC RoboInvestWeb and Mobile App0.88%S$1,500
SquirrelSaveWeb0.5% + 10% of positive returnsNone
StashAwayWeb and Mobile App0.8% (less than S$25k)
to
0.2% (more than S$1 Mil)
None
SyfeWeb and Mobile App0.65% (No min)
to
0.4% (Min S$100k)
None

What Is A Robo-Advisor?

Robot

When it comes to wealth management, the only way you can do it in the past is through a mutual fund.

That’s where fund managers curate a list of funds with the ultimate goal of doing better than what the market returns.

Naturally, they would usually charge a hefty 2-3% management fee to try to ‘beat the market’.

These exorbitant fees eat into your returns in the long run and the ones who benefit ultimately are the fund managers.

With the advancements made in technology as well as developments in machine learning, the advent of robo-advisors — digital platforms that made automated and algorithm-driven investment decisions — aims to change all of this by providing an option for low cost, diversified, passive investing.

The Promise: Low-Cost, Diversified, Passive Investing

Stacks Of Coins Growing Wealth

  • Low Cost: Usually 0.5% to 1% fees are charged for the total amount managed. The costs are low because they are run by models and algorithms instead of an actual, human fund manager – hence the name ‘Robo’.
  • Diversified: Usually put into a basket of Global Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) which exposes the fund to the global economy in different sectors, and usually diversified through a mix of equities and bonds in the portfolio. Note: some of these ETFs are not available to retail investors.
  • Passive Investing: Suitable for a longer-term approach (longer than 10 years) to growing wealth rather than high-frequency trading and taking short-term positions.

So Who Would Benefit From Robo Advisors?

Robo advisors are perfect for time-starved working adults who are looking to grow their money passively.

(Think: the majority of Singaporeans today, who are between 21 to 45 years old).

Instead of physically going down to a bank to look for a relationship or fund manager — who may or may not even have your interests at heart — why not opt for a more transparent method which only seeks to grow your wealth?


A Brief Introduction to the Robo Advisors in Singapore

Autowealth Logo

AutoWealth

  • History: Started in 2015 by ex Investment Banker at government firm, Ow Tai Zhi and ex Management Consultant, Noel Lee
  • Funding: Undisclosed but with high net worth angels and currently incubated in NUS Enterprise
  • Operation: Monetary Authority of Singapore License – Financial Advisers Act (Chapter 110) of Singapore (“FAA”) (FA License No. 100064-1)
  • Methodology: A rule-based investment approach and strategy which places a strong emphasis on diversification across major asset classes, geographical regions, and industries.
  • Platform(s): Web only
  • Fees: 0.5% of Assets Under Management (AUM) p.a. (Management Fee) + USD$18 p.a. (Platform Fee)
  • Minimum to Start: S$3,000

Read Reviews On Autowealth

DBS Logo

DBS digiPortfolio 

  • History: Created by DBS Bank, the DBS portfolio management team, with the Chief Investment Officer is in charge of the macro-overview strategy of the portfolio.
  • Operation: DBS Pte Ltd
  • Methodology: 2 investment portfolios: Global and Asia portfolio. Invest according to different risk profiles.
  • Platform(s): Web only
  • Fees: 0.75% of AUM p.a. (Portfolio Management Fee)
  • Minimum to Start: S$1,000 

Read Reviews On DBS digiPortfolio 

Endowus Logo

Endowus

  • History: Started in 2017, led by Samuel Rhee, former CEO and CIO of Morgan Stanley Investment Management Asia.
  • Funding: Undisclosed but seems to be independently owned and operated
  • Operation: Monetary Authority of Singapore License – Financial Advisers Act (Chapter 110) of Singapore (“FAA”) (FA License No. 100066-1)
  • Methodology: Building of Global portfolio via Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) & PIMCO funds
  • Platform(s): Web only
  • Fees: Between 0.60% (up to S$200k) to 0.25% (more than S$5 Mil) of AUM p.a.
  • Minimum to Start: S$10,000

Read Reviews On Endowus

Grab Logo

GrabInvest

  • History: Set up after Grab acquired Bento in 2020, led by Chandrima Das, former Managing Director at Bank of Singapore and CEO of ING Investment Management.
  • Operation: TBC
  • Methodology: TBC
  • Platform(s): TBC
  • Fees: TBC 
  • Minimum to Start: TBC

Kristal.AI Logo

Kristal.AI 

  • History: Founded by Asheesh Chanda and Vineeth Narasimhan in 2016; what started as an ambitious idea sketched out on a black-board, is now present and thriving in three countries.
  • Funding: $1.85M seed round of funding led by IDG Ventures India
  • Operation: Monetary Authority of Singapore License – Capital Markets Services License (CMS100614)
  • Methodology: Curated ETFs, goal-based financial planning and customized portfolios by AI-based advisory
  • Platform(s): Web and Mobile App
  • Fees: Between 0% (up to USD$50,000) to 0.3% (over USD$50,000) of AUM p.a.
  • Minimum to Start: No minimum

Read Reviews On Kristal.AI

OCBC Bank logo

OCBC RoboInvest 

  • Methodology: 28 baskets of portfolios comprising stocks and ETFs, specially curated for you by OCBC’s leading wealth experts.
  • Operation: Under OCBC Pte Ltd
  • Platform(s): Web and Mobile App
  • Fees: 0.88% p.a for AUM 
  • Minimum to Start: S$1,500

Read Reviews On OCBC RoboInvest

Smartly Logo

Smartly

  • History: Started in 2015 by ex start-up professional, Keir Veskiväli and Investment Analyst, Artur Luhaäär. Winded down operations in March 2020.
  • Funding: Undisclosed but with high net worth angels and Expara Ventures
  • Operation: Collaboration with VCG Partners Pte. Ltd. a MAS licensed fund manager in Singapore. Legally you’re contracting with the licensed fund manager, while Smartly is the technology provider. (i.e they don’t hold or invest your money directly)
  • Methodology: Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) consisting of ETFs that efficiently capture the global stock markets as well as give exposure to bonds and real estate. Rebalances when market conditions change.
  • Platform(s): Web only
  • Fees: Between 1% (S$10,000) to 0.5% (S$100,000) of AUM p.a.
  • Minimum to Start: No minimum

Note: All Smartly accounts will be closed from 8 April 2020 onwards. If you are an investor with Smartly, please reach out to the team for further details.

Read Reviews On Smartly

SquirrelSave Logo

SquirrelSave 

  • History: Led by Victor Lye, a Corporate entrepreneur with over 25 years’ cross-industry experience in investments, insurance and healthcare.
  • Operation: Monetary Authority of Singapore License – Capital Markets Services license (CMS100806)
  • Methodology: Fully AI platform that invests based on personalized risk profiling of individuals.
  • Platform(s): Web only
  • Fees: 0.5% p.a. (Management Fee) + 10% of any positive return (Performance Fee)
  • Minimum to Start: No minimum

Read Reviews On SquirrelSave

StashAway Logo

StashAway

  • History: Started in 2016 by ex ZALORA Group CEO, Michele Ferrario, ex Nomura MD, Freddy Lim and CTO Nino Ulsamer
  • Funding: $20.4 million USD in 4 funding rounds, with the latest round being led by Eight Roads Ventures, the proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International.
  • Operation: Monetary Authority of Singapore License – Capital Market Services Licence (CMS100604-1)
  • Methodology: A proprietary investment strategy called the Economic Regime-based Asset Allocation (ERAA) which continually monitors economic and market cycles to rebalance accordingly
  • User Interface: Adopting a modern interface similar to Betterment (USA) with simple goals, charts, and visuals
  • Platform(s): Web and Mobile App
  • Fees: Between 0.8% (S$25,000) to 0.2% (S$1 Mil) of AUM p.a.
  • Minimum to Start: No minimum

Read Reviews On StashAway

Syfe Logo

Syfe

  • History: Syfe is a digital wealth manager licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore for retail fund management.
  • Funding: Backed by Unbound, MPGI, David Rogers and Paul Redbourn
  • Operation: Monetary Authority of Singapore License – Capital Markets Services Licence (CMS100837)
  • Methodology: Successful long-term investing is much more about managing risk than chasing returns. Learn how Syfe takes a dynamic, risk-based approach to your portfolio’s asset allocation to deliver better returns.
  • Platform(s): Web and Mobile App
  • Fees: Between 0.65% (no minimum) to 0.40% (S$100,000) of AUM p.a.
  • Minimum to Start: No minimum

Read Reviews On Syfe


So… Which Robo Advisor Should You Use?

Need help deciding which robo advisor to go with?

Comparing Costs Based on Your Investment Amount

Besides the amount which you want to invest in a robo advisor.

You’ll also have to think about incurring any potential management, platform, or performance fees.

In most cases, the fees are relatively affordable.

With most robo advisor management fees ranging between 0.2% to 1% per annum.

Remember to keep these costs as low as you can so that you get to keep more of what your investments reap.

What Are the Pros and Cons of the Different Robo Advisors?

Based on user reviews on Seedly, here are some pros and cons of the different robo advisors in Singapore:

 ProsCons
AutowealthTransparent and detailed platform

Auto-rebalancing to ensure not one asset class is overloaded

AutoWealth assigns each user a personal advisor so you can get support via text, or meet the advisor face to face
Minimum S$3,000 investment amount.
DBS digiPortfolio Easy to use, with low entry amount of S$1,000

Able to choose curated investments based on the level of risk appetite
DBS digiPortfolio's fees are slightly more expensive than other robo advisors
EndowusAllow CPF, SRS and cash investments.

Lowest fees among robo platforms that invest in unit trusts.
Minimum account balance of S$10,000
Kristal.AILow fees, no penalties for opening or closing an account

24/7 customer support, initial investment of just $10
No automatic portfolio rebalancing (which Autowealth and Stashaway has)

Risk profiling not as comprehensive as Autowealth or StashAway

Algorithm advisory doesn't explain the rationale for each selected combination
OCBC RoboInvest Easy to use platform, liberty to choose when to sell

Straightforward and diversified
No dedicated mobile app, long waiting time

No funds dedicated in high growth emerging markets
SquirrelSaveRelatively low management fee

Beginner-friendly UI, uses machine learning

Personalised portfolios
Charges a performance fee
StashAway Allow SRS and cash investments.

Easy to use app with a seamless interface

One of the lowest fees for small investment amounts at 0.8% a year

App allows users to track investments seamlessly
Certain months with stagnated returns
Syfe Low management fees of 0.65% p.a

Interesting risk based approach

Portfolios created by Syfe based on the downside risks you are willing to take, rather than returns

Excellent customer support
Heavily focused on US investments

Here’s What Real Users Have to Say About the Various Robo Advisors

Would you prefer to hear from actual people and users who have used robo advisors, before making your decision?

Our Seedly community members have left honest reviews covering stuff like the pros and cons of each robo advisor as well as the returns they have made.

Screenshot of Seedly Reviews Robo Advisor Page

You can use this one-stop portal to compare ALL the robo-advisors on the market and see which is the one for you!

The Importance of Doing Your Own Diligence Before Investing

As with any other investments out there, there are bound to be risks aplenty.

Even if robo-advisors are arguably an easy way to get started on passive investing.

It is ultimately up to you as a retail investor to do your own due diligence when selecting which robo-advisor to go with as well as what kind of funds to invest in before executing!

If the ever-surging popularity of US-based robo-advisors like Wealthfront (led by an experienced management team) and Betterment (heavily funded and growing assets under management) is any indicator.

The era of low-cost investment options is here to stay and that’s great news for us as retail investors!

REITs Tool

About Kenneth Lou
Co-founder of Seedly. Passionate about helping people make smarter financial decisions.
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