Fidelity Go, the firm’s robo-advisor for retail clients, has replaced Vanguard as the top-performing robo based on two-year trailing returns through September 30, 2018, according to The Robo Report, Third Quarter 2018, by Backend Benchmarking.
Up until the third quarter, Fidelity Go, which debuted in July 2016, was not around long enough to have two years’ worth of investment returns. Vanguard placed second in the annualized ranking for two-year trailing returns followed by E-Trade.
The performance ratings are based on returns of taxable accounts split 60/40 stocks and bonds held by investors in high tax brackets. For balanced portfolios in taxable accounts with different equity and bond allocations, The Robo Report “normalizes” performance in order to reduce the inherent advantage of portfolios whose equity allocations topped 60%; rankings are based on the portfolio returns above or below the normalized benchmark.
Using this methodology, Fidelity Go led other robo-advisors for total portfolio returns over the two years ended September 30, returning 0.15% above the benchmark, while Vanguard lost 0.04% and E-Trade, in third place, lost 0.44%.
Fidelity Go led in the performance of its equity portfolio, which returned 15.75% annually over the two years ended September 30. Large holdings of large-cap stocks and a low allocation to international securities (compared to other robos) coupled with no-fee mutual funds helped buoy performance, said David Goldstone, research analyst at Backend Benchmarking.
Schwab led in fixed income performance, gaining 1.45% annually over the two years ended September 30 when many robo-advisors lost money in bonds. Heavier high yield and international bond exposure underpinned Schwab’s fixed income performance, said Goldstone, noting that those same allocations are hurting performance year-to-date and for the third quarter.
The Robo Report is based on accounts that BackendBenchmarking opened with multiple robo-advisors using its own funds, which it monitors for performance. It also highlights the latest developments in the robo-advisory space including improvements to existing offerings as well as closings and openings.
During the third quarter Capital One shut down its robo advice service following the sale of its investment advice and brokerage assets. Hedgeable completed the closure of its robo-advisory and UBS announced it would be close its SmartWealth, its UK-based robo offering just months after it introduced, in partnership with SigFig, a robo-advisory service in the U.S., called Advice Advantage. Goldstone is curious about that juxtaposition.
The third quarter also included the expansion of some robo-offerings and signals of more to come.