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Here’s something a little different … A robo-adviser with killer checking


Millennials aren’t big fans of the financial industry.

They turn to family rather than professionals for financial advice and avoid traditional banks whenever they can.

They’re also keen on giving back and contributing to society.

So we couldn’t help but notice how Aspiration Fund Adviser is trying to tap into all of those trends.

It’s created a website that offers automated investment advice and allows users to choose how much they want to pay for that service.

Whatever you decide to pay, Aspiration donates 10% of that amount to charity.

On top of that, Aspiration offers a fee-free checking account with an interest rate that rivals the best nationally available savings and money market accounts.

Aspiration is part of a growing movement toward robo-advisers – websites that use the same algorithm-based asset management strategies employed by human financial advisers to provide fully automated investing guidance at a fraction of the cost.

Even the largest traditional money managers, including Charles Schwab and Vanguard, are getting into robo-advising because it appeals to younger savers.

A 2014 Wells Fargo survey found only 16% of millennials use a traditional financial adviser, primarily because they can’t afford them.

They prefer to get advice from family members or over the Internet. One-third of those surveyed said they had used an online tool to determine how much they should save for retirement.

That fits perfectly with robo-advisers. Customers typically fill in an online questionnaire that asks about such things as your income, goals and tolerance for risk. Software picks the best investments and periodically rebalances the portfolio.

Because of the interest its model has triggered, Aspiration requires you to sign up on its invitation list before you can open an account.

If you decide to use its money management software, you get to pick how much you’ll pay for that service.

(Most robo-advisers charge annual fees between 0.25% and 0.75% of assets, compared with the 1% most human advisers charge.)

But with its “Dimes Worth of Difference” program, 10 cents out of every dollar the company earns goes to charities that help provide economic opportunities to Americans who are struggling financially.

You don’t have to use the money management service to take advantage of Aspiration’s Summit checking account.

It pays 1.00% APY on balances of $2,500 or higher. Lower balances earn 0.25% APY.

You can open an account with just $10 and never pay monthly fees or ATM fees, anywhere in the world.

Since Aspiration isn’t a bank, the checking account is administered by Boston-based Radius Bank, which holds all of your money and offers full FDIC protection for those deposits.

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