March 2019 – The Hands-Off Approach: A Review of Managed Accounts

With the rise of automated managed account platforms over the past few years, brokerage firms have been able to reduce both their fees and minimum investment requirements significantly. These lower barriers to entry have enabled a much larger audience of investors to access the benefits of customized portfolio management. When we last covered this topic in 2017, we had witnessed a wave of digital managed account rollouts by incumbent firms, sparked by competition from newer players like Betterment and Wealthfront. Since then, activity in the space has continued to heat up, with TD Ameritrade, UBS and Wells Fargo Advisors each launching new managed account products. Currently, all but two firms—Robinhood and J.P. Morgan You Invest—provide some sort of digital/hybrid or traditional managed account option.

This Broker Monitor Report examines discretionary advisory programs offered by each coverage set firm. We also review separately and unified managed accounts, which allow clients to invest in a single account or platform managed by financial advisors and portfolio managers at the firm or through third parties. To provide an overview of the general managed account landscape, we highlight the account availability, investment managers, minimum requirements and fee structures for each managed product. We also consider the public site positioning of these offerings.

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