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A lot of the questions I get from investors these days can be answered with three words: Try a robo-adviser.

Robo-advisers offer low-cost portfolio management using exchange-traded funds. For people who choose not to deal with full-service advisers, but want expert help in both building and maintaining a portfolio, a robo-adviser is a solid option. Here are six points of interest about robo-advisers that arise from the information contained in the 2019/2020 Globe and Mail robo-adviser guide, published last week.

Robos are most economical for large accounts

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It’s standard in the investment advice business to reduce the percentage amount of fees as the account size increases, and robos are no exception. Portfolio management fees typically start at 0.5 per cent or thereabouts and decrease to 0.2 per cent for six-figure balances.

Robos are ideal for people starting with small amounts, even nothing

Several robos have no minimums, while some will not start investing your money until you deposit at least $1,000.

Robos use cheap ETFs

Eight of the 13 firms in the robo guide build portfolios for clients with asset-weighted average management expense ratios of 0.2 per cent or less. That’s pretty darn cheap.

Robos can help parents baffled about how to invest in RESPs for their kids

Most robos now offer registered education savings plans, which are uniquely challenging to manage. You want to start off fairly aggressive with an RESP set up for a baby, then dial risk levels way down as the beneficiary child approaches graduation in the latter years of high school. A robo should manage that transition for you. A small number of robos also offer registered disability savings plan (RDSPs), which are not universally available in the investing industry.

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Robos are not strictly an online experience

Six of the 13 firms in the robo guide offer a dedicated portfolio manager for your account. It’s pretty much standard for firms to offer new clients the option of opening an account online, or with the help of staff.

Robos are worth a look for responsible investing (RI)

Responsible investing is generating interest not only from millennials, but older investors as well. Seven of the 13 firms in the robo-adviser guide offer RI portfolios.

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