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Portfolio > ETFs

Betterment Renames, Restructures Its Advisor Platform

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As part of its continuing effort to grow assets and client base, Betterment announced Wednesday a name change to its platform for advisors as well as an expanded list of  ETFs offered on that platform.

Betterment Institutional becomes Betterment for Advisors (B4A) and the array of ETFs it offers will expand beyond those on Betterment’s retail platform to include a suite of additional strategies from Vanguard as well as ETFs from Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM), beginning Oct. 17, 2016.

The name change provides “more clarity to the market about what we do and who we partner with,” said Tom Kimberly, managing director of the automated portfolio service. The new name makes clear that the platform serves independent advisors rather than insurance companies and other institutional firms, explained Kimberly.

The expanded list of ETFs responds to the “consistent feedback about the need for greater portfolio flexibility,” according to the Betterment press release.

“This is the first step we’re taking to create that flexbility on that platform,” Kimberly told ThinkAdvisor. “We intend to work with more partners to make additional investment strategies available.”

Advisors will soon be able to choose among Betterment’s existing portfolio of 12 ETFs – six for stocks and six for bonds (though technically there are seven bond ETFs since IRA accounts substitute a high quality bond index ETF for a muni ETF) and additional ETFs from Vanguard’s and from GSAM.

The Goldman Sachs Asset Management ETF portfolios provide exposure to core stocks and bonds as well emerging markets and REITs. The Vanguard strategic model portfolios use low-cost index ETFs for exposure to U.S. and international stocks as well as global investment grade bonds. Advisors can choose a model strategy that align with their clients’ needs and risk tolerances.

Kimberly described the expanded ETF offerings as a “first step to creating flexbility on the Betterment platform for advisors.” Beyond, said Kimberly, “We intend to work with more partners to make additional investment strategies available.” He expects that Betterment will be announcing more enhancements to its advisor platform before year-end.

Betterment will be marketing its newly named advisor platform via search engines and at this month’s FPA, Insider’s Forum and XY Planning Network conferences, said Kimberly.

The largest independent robo-advisor currently has $5.8 billion under management and more than 350 advisors using its platform, according to spokespeople. Betterment doesn’t break out the number of assets that advisors oversee.

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