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Investing on Autopilot: What is Automated Investing? Deep Dive

Investing on Autopilot What is Automated Investing Deep Dive

Building a strategic investment portfolio is a critical element of planning for the future and retirement. A carefully-curated investment portfolio can provide significant returns, delivering financial freedom and long-term security.

Understanding how to build an investment portfolio and execute an investment strategy, however, can be time-consuming. There are many factors to consider before setting out to build your own investment portfolio, such as asset diversification, risk management, and reinvestment. 

Managed investment funds provide wealthy investors with the opportunity to take a hands-off approach to investing, but are often available only to investors that have a significant amount of capital to distribute into investment opportunities

Automated investing provides everyday investors with the benefits offered by a managed investment fund without the associated fees. It minimizes risk while maximizing the potential rewards of investment, allowing investors to distribute capital across the entire stock market without exposing themselves to volatile or unreliable asset classes.

What is Investing on Autopilot?

Automated investing solutions are rapidly becoming one of the most accessible, understandable options available to investors today. Until the rise of fintech, decentralized finance, and other tools, diversified or managed investments have largely been inaccessible to everyday investors.

Many everyday investors lack the financial knowledge or the market insight necessary to actively manage a portfolio. The rise of artificial intelligence and automation, however, has dramatically expanded the options available to everyday investors.

Automated investing tools allow investors to invest on “autopilot,” and changes the way investing works in a fundamental way. Investing on autopilot allows everyday investors to participate in many markets simultaneously without direct hands-on management, eliminating middlemen and providing value directly to investors themselves.

The automated investing industry is currently experiencing a rapid growth stage — the amount of assets managed for investors by autoinvesting platforms has skyrocketed from the $60 million under management in 2015, and is predicted to reach $2 trillion by the end of 2020.

One of the biggest advantages presented by investing on autopilot is the ability to create fully customized investment strategies that align with the preferences and personal risk profile of an investor and create a tailored, automated investment plan designed to help them reach their goals. 

How Does Automated Investing Work?

Automated investing, or investing on autopilot, is a highly customizable type of passive investment that provides everyday investors with exposure to an extremely diversified portfolio, backed by extensive research and insight, with little to no active management. 

Automated investing platforms are typically online platforms that provide investors with access to artificial intelligence or algorithm-driven investment services that create automated investment strategies based on the personal preferences and profile of investors.

In most cases, passive automated investment platforms will collect a range of information from investors when getting started, which is then used to offer advice and build a personalized investment profile. The best automated investing platforms online today offer simplified account set up, automated portfolio management, account management services, strong security features, and extensive goal planning features.

Why is Automated Investing Increasing in Popularity?

Automated investing platforms, or services that offer investing on autopilot, have exploded in popularity recently due to the streamlined, easy to access nature of the investment options they provide. One of the most attractive features of automated investing services is the low opening balance required to get started with automated investing.

Investing on autopilot is primarily designed to benefit everyday investors that are seeking passive investment income, and therefore is ideal for investors that are seeking automated, passive indexing strategies that require little to no human supervision.

Importantly, it’s not necessary to possess extensive investment experience, financial education, or trading experience in order to capitalize on automated investing. Automated investment platforms automatically adjust and rebalance the account of investors, ensuring that investments are protected and remain as profitable as possible during changing or volatile markets. 

The high cost of personal financial advisors often prohibits everyday investors from accessing a range of investment opportunities. Automated investing platforms minimize the cost associated with accessing highly accurate investment guidance, and are able to take care of a significant portion of the administrative load required when managing an investment portfolio.

Portfolio investments typically require a significant amount of administration, such as portfolio allocation, tax management, and market observation. The artificial intelligence that drives platforms that offer investing on autopilot automates these processes, often providing investors with simplified reports that can be delivered to tax accountants in order to simplify the creation of tax strategy.

What are the Benefits of Investing on Autopilot?

The primary benefit of investing on autopilot is the significant cost savings automated investing offers when compared to traditional financial advisors. Automated investment solutions eliminate a large amount of administrative friction and human labor, allowing automated solutions to provide virtually the same services offered by managed investment portfolios at a fraction of the cost. 

Most automated investment platforms offer annual fees that range between 0.2 and 1 percent of a client’s total account balance, which is far lower than the fees charged by commission based or human managed financial planning accounts.

The highly accessible nature of automated investment platforms means that they are available 24/7, and are accessible online at any time, from anywhere. Importantly, the minimum cost to get started with automatic investing is far lower — managed investment portfolios or financial advisors may demand a minimum investment of anywhere between 5,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars, while automated investment platforms often have extremely low minimum investment of just one dollar to get started.

Investing on autopilot also offers investors the ability to automate and streamline the entire investment process. Rather than obligate investors into paying significant lump sum investments, investing on autopilot allows investors to set up automatic contributions that are debited from their account on a regularly scheduled basis, for as much or as little as they prefer.

Investors that invest on autopilot also benefit from dividend reinvesting, which allows users to reinvest their stock dividends automatically and increase the amount of capital their automated investment account generates. 

Another major advantage provided by automated investing is the way in which autopilot investing removes the human element from investing. Rather than make emotional-driven investment calls, automated investment platforms function on artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms that draw data directly from a wide range of data sources, ensuring that investment decisions are made in accordance with statistical artificial intelligence insight. 

Lastly, autopilot investing allows investors to diversify their investment portfolio across an extremely broad range of investment opportunities, providing exposure to vehicles such as UK Government bonds, global company bonds, emerging market government bonds, and stocks in the UK, North America, European, and Asian markets, with minimal management or interaction.

The ability to access a broad range of markets is supported by highly customizable risk levels which take into account the preferences of investors, building custom portfolios that meet specific needs.

What are the Risks of Investing on Autopilot?

Autopilot investing delivers a wide range of advantages, but it’s important to keep in mind that automated investing platforms have a number of key differences with traditional managed investment accounts. 

Autopilot investing can, in some cases, limit the options that an individual investor may have. While investing on autopilot is ideal for investors that are seeking an automated, simple solution that provides highly accurate investment guidance with minimal interaction and minimal risk, autopilot investing is not ideal for investors that want to take direct control over every single aspect of their investment portfolio.

An investor that invests on autopilot, for example, is not able to specify the exact mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) they invest in, and will instead invest in the most profitable, most secure, or most reliable fund recommended by the artificial intelligence that drives the autopilot investing platform they choose.

Similarly, autopilot investors aren’t able to purchase individual stocks or bonds and add them to their account. Investing on autopilot is designed for investors that want to take advantage of the highly accurate and reliable nature of artificial intelligence-driven investment guidance, rather than investors that prefer to perform extensive due diligence and research, selecting and investing in their own stock preferences or index.

While autopilot investing can provide impressive results, investors must ensure that they work with a reliable, reputable autopilot investing platform that has delivered proven results in the past. When engaging the services of an automated investment platform, a good autopilot investing service will take into account the financial situation of an investor, the time in which they want to invest, and their subjective investment goals. 

Investing on autopilot breaks down many of the traditional barriers that prevent everyday investors from accessing exposure to managed investment accounts, but there are a number of factors that should be considered before getting started.

Autopilot investment services are ideal entry-level options for investors that would like to dedicate a portion of their income to a reliable AI-driven solution, but are limited with regards to complex financial services such as complicated tax strategies, retirement planning, the administration of trusts, or estate planning.

Engaging the services of an autopilot investment platform means it’s not possible to invest in high risk investment opportunities, which can slow the rate at which returns are provided. Autopilot investing focuses on providing stable, reliable returns, and doesn’t focus on investing in highly volatile markets that hold the potential for fast, high profit at the cost of extremely high risk. 

An autopilot investment platform, for example, may be difficult to manage in the event of an unexpected crisis. It’s also important to consider the overall goals of an investor and how they align with the options presented by an automated investment platform. Autopilot investing is only as accurate as the information provided — when providing initial details to an autopilot investment platform, investors must ensure that the information they provide is as accurate as possible. 

Lastly, it’s essential to consider the regulatory status of an automated investment platform. In the US, for example, autopilot investment platforms are considered the same as human advisors from a legal perspective. For this reason, autopilot investment platforms that operate in the US are obligated to register with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and are subject to the same laws that govern traditional brokers. 

It’s important to check to ensure that an automated investment platform or autopilot investment solution is compliant with the relevant financial regulatory authorities before investing any capital. 

How to Choose the Right Autopilot Investment Platform

When assessing potential autopilot investment platforms, it’s important to ensure that the platform itself provides access to the products you want. There are a number of factors that should be considered, which include:

  • Is the platform secure?
  • Is the platform covered by insurance?
  • What are the products offered by the platform?
  • What kind of customer support does the platform offer?
  • What are the prerequisites that must be met in order to open an account?
  • What kind of investment performance does the platform offer?
  • Does the platform charge fees, and, if so, how much?
  • Does the platform offer any expanded functionality such as the ability to trade in specific shares?

Taking the above criteria, it’s possible to perform a quick assessment of any given automated investment platform. For example, WealthSimple is one of the most popular and reliable autopilot investment platforms online and provides answers to all of the questions outlined above. 

WealthSimple is an online investment management service that currently holds more than $5 billion CAD under management for over 175,000 customers and offers protection through the Canadian Investor Protection Fund for up to $1 million for individuals, making it a highly secure option for investors seeking an automated option.

Assessing the WealthSimple website reveals insight into the other due diligence questions that must be answered before investing in any autopilot investing solution — WealthSimple offers three main products which include automated investing, commission-free stock trading, and a saving account. Investors must be Canadian, US, or UK citizens with a residential address, ID, social insurance number, and must be 18 years of age.

Please note: Wealthsimple Invest currently is available in 3 countries – Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Wealthsimple Trade and Wealthsimple Cash currently are only available in Canada.

WealthSimple provides extensive detail into the performance of the investment options offered. When assessing alternatives or other autopilot investment options, however, it may be more difficult to find a clearly defined example of portfolio performance or details on how client assets are protected.

Ally Invest, for example, is a self-directed managed investment platform that offers low fees, but doesn’t offer FDIC insurance for specific features such as cash-enhanced options. In the United States, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ensures that the funds held by individuals are protected. As the FDIC considers assets held by some autopilot investing platforms as securities held for investment purposes and not bank deposits, this often leaves clients unprotected.

Other options, such as Axos Invest, provide users with automated investing solutions — but can add additional fees at later points when investors want to expand the functionality of their autopilot investing product. Platforms such as Axos Invest charge a 0.24 percent annual advisory fee for accounts with balances over $500 — it’s important to remain aware of any potential fees that must be paid in order to maintain an account with these platforms.

Overall, when selecting the best autopilot investment options, it’s best to work with a platform that provides upfront pricing and fees, delivers clearly defined performance metrics, and is backed up by insurance or coverage that ensures client funds are safe in any event, such as the services offered by Wealthsimple.

FAQs about Automated Investing

What is Automated Investing?

Automated investing allows everyday investors to participate in many markets simultaneously without direct hands-on management, eliminating middlemen and providing value directly to investors themselves. Investing on autopilot is a powerful way to invest on your own terms. Autopilot investing allows anybody to access the benefits of working with a highly intelligent, accurate investment portfolio management platform without the fees associated with traditional managed portfolio services.

What Kind of Investors is the Best-Suited for Autopilot Investing?

While autopilot investing isn’t ideal for day traders or investors that want to maintain full control of every single aspect of their portfolio, it’s ideal for investors that want to direct a specific amount of their income towards a low risk, closely managed investment solution that offers exposure to a wide variety of investments with minimal interaction at an attractive price.

How Do Automated Investing Platforms Work?

Automated Investing Platforms allow everyday investors to set aside as much or as little capital as they like and direct it toward and automatic investing solution that incorporates the best artificial intelligence available today, offering a stable, reliable, and low-risk investment opportunity that saves a significant amount of time while delivering peace of mind.

How to Choose the Best Automated Investing Platform?

When assessing potential autopilot investment platforms, it’s important to ensure that the platform itself provides access to the products you want.

There are a number of factors that should be considered, which include:

Is the platform secure?
Is the platform covered by insurance?
What are the products offered by the platform?
What kind of customer support does the platform offer?
What are the prerequisites that must be met in order to open an account?
…and much more.

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Samuel Town
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Samuel is a professional finance copywriter with years of experience. He has created propositions, pitch decks, white papers, and content for over 100 respectable firms, startups, businesses, and institutions globally. At Finbold.com he covers deep-dive reviews of the various financial companies.