• What is your Mission Statement?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:11PM EST
    We are here to empower people to do what's best for their money so they can live better.
     
    We’re building smarter, more efficient money management for everyone. By pushing the bounds of what technology can do, by bringing together the best software and analytic thinking of diverse, cutting edge industries, we’re able to ensure that more people get the advice that they deserve. We have the ability to help free our customers to pursue what is most meaningful to them, to spend their time doing what makes them happy. And by doing that, we have the rare opportunity to help them find something positive and intangible that can’t be bought: peace of mind.

    Our promise is to invest your money at a low cost, and manage it in a way that gives you a better outcome. We advise you on what to do with your money based on your personal financial situation and the goals you’re looking to achieve—we recommend how much to invest each month, how much risk to take on in your portfolio, and what type of investment account you should have.
     
    Then, we do it all for you.

    We invest your money in our globally diversified portfolio of low-cost exchange-traded funds (our investment team carefully selects these ETFs based on a variety of criteria). And we manage your money over time to help you achieve lower taxes and the best possible expected return. That means we do things like automatic rebalancing and tax loss harvesting—investment strategies that are typically time-consuming and tedious for average DIY investors to do on their own. Our award-winning Customer Support team is available 7 days a week to answer your questions.
     
  • Why wouldn’t I just buy Betterment’s recommended ETFs directly?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:15PM EST
    While you could buy the same ETFs from a traditional broker or fund company, you couldn’t get them all from any one place without a fee, so you’d be paying to buy, sell, or trade the ETFs.

    Even after you purchased those securities, you’d have to rebalance regularly — which few people do because of the work, scheduling, and transaction fees involved — to get the risk-reducing and returns-enhancing benefits of rebalancing (which Betterment handles for you, automatically). Betterment also seamlessly invests every penny according to your allocation; this means all your money is working for you. Betterment gives you advice about how to allocate your funds, and takes the guesswork out of asset allocation. We also offer you fractional shares, so again, every single penny of your money is working for you.

    And Betterment’s investment committee regularly scours the market, looking for more cost-efficient index ETFs to give you consistent broad-market exposure.

    Finally, when Betterment makes a sale, we sell your losses first, then gains, to minimize your tax bill.

    These benefits mean there’s a lot of real value Betterment provides that you just can’t get buying ETFs on your own. We’re providing a way for you to simply make a smart investment that you can set and forget, so you can spend more time doing whatever it is you like to do more than managing your money.
  • How is a Betterment account different than a traditional online brokerage account?

    Last Updated: January 31, 2017 7:19AM EST
    Betterment offers unique features, including:

    - A straightforward pricing model without transaction charges or hidden fees.

    - Focus on the only two investments that matter to most investors – a great stock basket and a conservative bond portfolio.

    - An incredibly easy user experience that makes it easy to understand your money and control your exposure to risk.

    - Automatic, seamless diversification (which means higher returns with lower risk).

    - Automatic rebalancing of your portfolio.

    - Automatic reinvestment of your dividends.

    - Transaction in exact dollar amounts (so you don't have to buy whole shares).
  • What am I getting for Betterment's fee?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:22PM EST
    Betterment’s straightforward fee is a great value. Beyond being the simplest way to invest intelligently, Betterment offers a number of unique features under the hood that simplify your life as an investor and help you get better returns:

    - Dollar-based transactions/fractional shares. When you transfer money to Betterment, every penny is invested into your portfolio as fractional shares, so all your money is always working for you.

    - Better diversification. Any single fund has its shortcomings. By balancing your portfolio among multiple funds, Betterment gives you appropriate exposure to small cap and value stocks while still maintaining a balance of large cap and growth stocks. Purchasing these ETFs directly and maintaining the proper balance over time would be a very demanding task.

    - Rebalancing. The composition of your portfolio will naturally drift over time as the market fluctuates, but Betterment rebalances you back to your desired allocation using cash flows, or whenever your portfolio composition drifts by 3%. Because we use your existing cash flows, we rarely have to make a sale to rebalance. Experts agree that regularly rebalancing your portfolio can increase returns and reduce risks, but even the most disciplined investors don’t do it because of all the work involved. 

    Tax Efficiency. When we do make a sale, we sell your losses (short term, then long term) first, then your gains (long term, then short term) to minimize your tax bill. Additionally we offer services to make your portfolio more tax efficient by enabling Tax Loss Harvesting and our Tax Coordinated Portfolio. 

    Better access to your own money. Your money is always available without a transaction fee, and without a minimum balance requirement. If you have an unexpected event and need your money, it can be back in your checking account in 4 to 5 business days.

    ​- Integrated and actionable advice. Our advice and RetireGuide tools give you actionable guidance, which we help you execute immediately. 
     
  • How is a Betterment account different than a bank savings account?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:34PM EST
    While your Betterment account is as easy to use as an online savings account with a bank, there are a few main differences. Although most bank accounts are guaranteed not to lose value, there is a possibility that your savings interest rate may not keep up with inflation over time. As a result, a Betterment account can be more beneficial than a bank savings account due to the possibility of higher returns. Given the nature of investing, your Betterment account could lose value depending on market conditions, however the amount of risk you want to take is up to you, and is controlled by setting your allocation between a higher-return Stock Market Portfolio and an ultra-safe Treasury Bond Portfolio.
     
  • How secure is my personal information and identity at Betterment?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:36PM EST
    Betterment has incorporated bank-level security measures in everything that we do. This includes the strongest available browser encryption, secure servers, and identity verification services, among other precautions. For more details, please review the Security & Privacy Promise section of our site.
  • Is Betterment a regulated financial institution?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:42PM EST
    Betterment is an SEC-Registered Investment Advisor, and Betterment Securities is a broker-dealer regulated by FINRA and the SEC. The securities in your account are protected up to $500,000 by SIPC. Betterment is simple and transparent. Your money is invested in well-established funds, chosen for their good management, efficiency, and long track record. You can see our portfolio by clicking here.
  • What happens to my money if Betterment goes public, is acquired, or closes?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:46PM EST
    If Betterment were to go public or be acquired, you would maintain complete control of your brokerage account. All the underlying securities in your Betterment portfolio are owned by you; you would be free to add, withdraw or transfer your funds at any time.

    In the unlikely event that Betterment were to close, your money would remain safe, and you would simply choose a new home for it.  Betterment’s own corporate funds are completely separate from your customer-owned money at all times, and Betterment is not allowed to use your money to pay for its operations or take any actions other than investing for you. You own all the underlying securities in your Betterment portfolio, and if you close your account, your money will be transferred back to your linked checking account. If we were to close, the funds would then be transferred to the broker of your choosing.

    Furthermore, Betterment accounts are also SIPC-protected (up to $500,000 per account type) against losses resulting from the failure of a broker-dealer. Unlike FDIC insurance for banks, SIPC does not protect against losses due to normal swings in the market. An explanatory brochure is available at http://www.sipc.org

    Please note that $500,000 is the standard amount that SIPC offers for investment companies. However, also note that this amount is specific to each account type. If you open one or more of the following accounts with us, each of these comes with $500,000 in SIPC protection per account:

    1) Traditional IRA
    2) Roth IRA
    3) Trust account
    4) An account solely under your spouse’s name
    5) A Traditional IRA under your spouse’s name
    6) A Roth IRA under your spouse’s name
    7) A joint account
    8) Taxable investment account

    While SIPC insurance is an important source of reassurance for investors, it only applies in cases where securities belonging to customers become unaccounted for during a wind-down. We’re subject to intense, routine scrutiny from our regulators, specifically to ensure that customer assets are segregated from the broker dealer’s assets, and are always available. 

    If we were to wind-down, SIPC would step in and return all customer assets in our possession - not just assets up to $500,000. The insurance covers scenarios where those assets are not available, but we have instituted a number of internal and external controls that ensure that SIPC insurance won’t need to come into play should there be a wind-down. 

    To provide a concrete example of how this coverage works: if your account contained $1,500,000 and $1,000,000 were recovered, your holdings would be made whole by SIPC, since the unaccounted amount is $500,000 and covered by the limits of SIPC.

    You can also read more in-depth about the safety and security of your account in the following article:  Your Security and Trust Come First
     
  • Does Betterment do a credit check?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:30PM EST
    No. Since Betterment does not lend out money, the only check we do is an identification (ID) verification check as required by law. We do not pull your credit score, or do anything else that would impact your credit rating or score. 
  • Does Betterment support accounts for minors?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:29PM EST
    At this time, we do not offer custodial accounts for minors. It’s something we hope to do one day, but at present, all customers must be at least 18 in order to consent to all our agreements.

    That being said, however, you can create separate savings goals for minors (for your children, for example) and then make deposits and withdrawals on their behalf. This works great if you’re using Betterment as a tool to show them the benefits of saving. You can even select just their goal in the Performance section of your account to show them performance data.

    Additionally, if you have a trust set up for the benefit of your children, of which you are the trustee, you can create a Betterment Trust account through this link.
  • 2017-2018 Holiday Schedule

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:47PM EST
    Happy holidays! The Betterment team hopes you and yours have a restful, safe, and fun-filled holiday season. For your planning purposes, we outlined the upcoming US market holidays and our modified customer support schedule.
     
    US Market Holidays:
     
    Please note that when the US Market is closed, we cannot trade your investments.  This may delay the trade and settle date of your transactions.  
      
    Market Hours and Holidays
    • January 16th, 2017, Monday: Closed
    • February 20, 2017, Monday: Closed
    • April 14, 2017, Friday: Closed
    • May 29, 2017, Monday: Closed
    • July 4th, 2017, Tuesday: Closed
    • September 4th, 2017, Monday: Closed
    • November 23rd, 2017, Thursday: Closed
    • November 24th, 2017, Friday: Closes early at 1pm ET
    • December 25th, 2017, the markets are closed.
    • December 31st, 2017 - January 1st, 2018- the markets are closed.
    Betterment’s holiday customer support schedule:
    • January 16th, 2017, Monday: Closed
    • November 23rd, 2017, Thursday: Closed
    • November 24th, 2017, Friday: Holiday Hours 9am-6pm ET
    • December 24th, 2017 Sunday: Normal Hours 11am-6pm ET
    • December 25th, 2017: Monday: Closed
    • December 31st, 2017, Sunday: Normal Hours 11am-6pm ET
    • January 1st, 2018, Monday: Closed
  • How does Betterment’s referral program work?

    Last Updated: February 20, 2017 7:30PM EST

    Customers can earn free time on their entire Betterment account by inviting friends and family to Betterment. For each friend who joins and funds an account from your referral link, you will receive 30 days free, and your friend will receive 6 months free. If you invite three friends who join and fund an account, you will receive one full year free.

    Important terms & conditions:
    The offer is valid only for new individual accounts with Betterment. Please send invitations only to people you know personally who will be glad to get them. Betterment will send one invitation and up to two reminders to each friend you invite: (1) in your name; and/or (2) with your name. The reminders may be different from the original invitation and can be canceled by emailing support@betterment.com. To qualify for the bonus, referred friends must make an initial deposit within 90 days of signup and not withdraw that initial deposit for 90 days.


     Your participation in the Betterment Refer a Friend Program is subject to the following terms and agreements: Through the Betterment Refer a Friend Program you will invite friends to sign-up for a Betterment account by sending them an invitation via the Betterment interface, and your efforts in soliciting clients to Betterment will be limited to this activity. For each "Qualifying New Account" Betterment will waive its fees applicable to your Betterment account for a period of 30 days, and Betterment will also waive its fees applicable to your Betterment referee friend's account for a period of 180 days, both such periods as determined by Betterment. For every third "Qualifying New Account" Betterment will waive its fees applicable to your Betterment account for a period of 30 days plus 1 year, and Betterment will also waive its fees applicable to your Betterment referee friend's account for a period of 180 days, both such periods as determined by Betterment. For avoidance of doubt, Betterment will waive its fees applicable to your Betterment account for a period of 30 days for each "Qualifying New Account" and for an additional 1 year for the third "Qualifying New Account" for a sum total of 90 days and 1 year for the three "Qualifying New Accounts". A "Qualifying New Account" is a new individual Betterment account opened by your Betterment referee friend using the special designated link from your invitation, which your referee friend funds with an initial deposit and does not withdraw that initial deposit for 90 days. Betterment is not responsible for incorrect entry or other failure on the part of your referees to meet standards of a Qualifying New Account. Employer-sponsored retirement accounts provided through Betterment For Business are not Qualifying New Accounts. If you are a participant in your employer’s retirement plan through Betterment For Business, and also have a personal Betterment account, only your personal account will receive fee waivers under the Betterment Refer a Friend Program. Accounts advised through the Betterment for Advisors platform are also not Qualifying New Accounts, and if you become advised through the Betterment for Advisors platform during a period in which Betterment is waiving the fees applicable to your account under the Refer a Friend program, Betterment will not waive any fees following such date.  This promotion does not apply to any fees charged by an advisor you are matched with through the Betterment Advisor Network.This promotion is not valid with any other offers and is non-transferrable. Offer available to U.S. Residents only. Betterment reserves the right to terminate this offer at any time, to limit the amount of account bonuses you are eligible to receive, and to refuse or recover any promotion award if Betterment determines that it was obtained under wrongful or fraudulent circumstances, that inaccurate or incomplete information was provided in opening the account, or that any terms of the Betterment Account Agreements have been violated. In referring friends to open a Betterment account you are acting on behalf of Betterment and under the supervision and control of Betterment. You agree to limit the information you provide in connection with the referral to the referral web page and email provided by Betterment. You agree that your participation in the Betterment Referral Program will conform to the terms contained herein as well as the provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, 15 U.S.C. ¬ß 80b-1, and the rules thereunder. You hereby represent that: (1) you are not subject to any statutory disqualification set forth in Sections 203(e) and 203(f) of the Investment Advisors Act (or any amended or replacement regulatory provision(s)); (2) you are not currently the subject of any investigation or proceeding which could result in statutory disqualification; and (3) you do not have a "place of business" at which you regularly provide investment advisory services, solicit, meet with, or otherwise communicate with clients, or any other location that is held out to the general public as a location at which you provide investment advisory services, solicit, meet with, or otherwise communicate with clients in any U.S. state. If you cannot accurately make the preceding representations, you may not participate in the Refer a Friend Program. If you are currently participating in the Refer a Friend Program and the preceding representations become inaccurate, you agree to immediately inform Betterment at support@betterment.com.

     

  • How do I close my account?

    Last Updated: January 12, 2017 4:10PM EST

    If you need to close your account, the process is simple. Log in below, and select "Accounts" from the sub-header. Once to this page, you will click the three dots towards the right of the account you are looking to close. You then will be asked to answer one of your security questions:

    https://wwws.betterment.com/app/#profile

    This will withdraw all your funds directly to your linked bank account and disable your account. There are no trading fees or penalties for closing accounts.

    Please contact us at support@betterment.com if your decision to cancel is based on any problems you may be experiencing. If you simply need access to your funds, note that there are no fees for accounts with a $0 balance, so feel free to withdraw and keep your account open until you are ready to invest with us again. 

    If you would like to try Betterment again in the future, simply call us at 1.888.428.9482 to re-activate your account.
  • Was my information affected by the CloudFlare vulnerability?

    Last Updated: February 24, 2017 12:25PM EST
    Betterment’s security team investigated the exposure from the CloudFlare vulnerability and its impact on our customers’ data. The team is confident that customer account information is safe. Additionally, CloudFlare performed its own internal review and determined that Betterment’s data was not included in the information exposed by the vulnerability.
     
    At Betterment, security is our top priority. We take a number of measures to protect our customers and services, including using state-of-the-art encryption to protect information and performing security reviews of our services regularly. We are continually evolving our security practices to make our services more secure for our customers.
     
    While your information was not impacted by this vulnerability, this serves as a good time to remind our customers to exercise good security practices to help protect their accounts. These include:
     
    • Selecting strong and unique passwords. Good passwords are both long and random. For your Betterment account password, you should avoid using names, places, names of products or services (e.g., “investing” or “Betterment”), and any other factoids that people may know about you or that are discoverable online. You should consider using a password manager to help make this practice easier.
    • Enabling two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security requires you to enter a unique verification code when you log into your account. This helps protects your account even if your password is stolen.
     
    For additional security tips to protect your account, please see this article on our Resource Center.
     
    For more information about other measures Betterment takes to protect your account, please visit betterment.com/security.
     
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