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Acorns Review

Acorns is a robo-advisor firm that allows to make micro-investments and grow your portfolio over time. We review the firm’s services in this guide.

Acorns is a financial services and technology company based in Irvine, California. Founded in 2012, the firm offers investment management and robo-advisory services. It allows clients to participate in micro-investing, in which one invests small amounts in consistent increments. Its automated investing, or robo-advisor, product allows you to build a portfolio that the company will then monitor and rebalance over time.

In this guide, we’ll review Acorns’ automated investing product. You’ll learn about the types of clients it’s ideal for, how it works, and its fee structure. We’ll also outline the firm’s investment philosophy and disclosure history.

Assets Under Management

$6.2 billion

Date Founded

2012

CEO

Noah Kerner

Fee Structure

Fee-only

Headquarters Address

5300 California Avenue Irvine, CA. 92617

Phone Number

(855) 739-2859, Monday-Friday, 9 am-6 pm PST.

Pros and Cons of Acorns

Pros

  • No account minimum
  • Allows you to link credit cards and round up transactions
  • Low fees
  • Highly rated mobile app

Cons

  • No financial planning
  • No in-person interaction with a financial advisor
  • Lack of portfolio options compared to other robo-advisors

Types of Clients

Acorns serves any retail client that can fit its criteria for enrolling. Unlike most other firms, you don’t need to make a minimum investment to open an account. However, according to the company’s Wrap Fee Program Brochure, you must meet the following requirements to sign up:

  • Be a legal U.S. resident with a valid social security number
  • Link a checking account with a U.S. banking institution
  • Verify your identity with Acorns

Aside from the above, Acorns only allows you to open an account that fits one of three types:

  • Traditional individual investment accounts
  • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
  • UGMA/UTMA investment accounts if you do so for a child

How Acorns Works

Acorns offers automated investment management via its website or app. Because it has no account minimum, it allows clients to get started with even just a few dollars on hand. Once you enroll for an account, the firm will set up a recurring system that allows you to invest in low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that fit your goals.

Another feature of note is that Acorns allows you to link a credit card to your account. Then, it’ll round up each purchase you make with it to the nearest dollar, contributing the difference to your investment account. This allows you to invest in small increments without much effort.

As you sign up for the service, you’ll need to provide some information about yourself as an investor. These will inform how the firm’s robo-advisor will construct your portfolio. Here’s what you’ll need to provide:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Time horizon (i.e., when you want to reach your goal)
  • Goals (e.g., retirement, buying a house, paying for children’s education, etc.)
  • Risk tolerance (e.g., conservative, moderate, aggressive, etc.)

Once Acorns understands your investment goals and characteristics, it’ll pair you with a model portfolio comprised of low-cost ETFs. These vary from conservative to aggressive in terms of risk tolerance. Additionally, the firm offers four that cater to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.

You may also choose to allocate a portion of your funds toward Bitcoin ETFs. This depends on the overall risk tolerance you’ve selected (conservative to aggressive), ranging from 1% to 5% of your account allocated to this model.

Finally, you can opt to have a portion of your account dedicated to a custom portfolio. This is a non-discretionary arrangement that lets you choose how and where to invest your funds. As with the Bitcoin ETFs, the portion you allocate scales up based on your risk tolerance. However, in this case, you can allocate 10% to 50% of your account.

Fee Structure and Cost

Acorns uses a wrap fee program to charge for its services. With this arrangement, you’ll be charged for advisory services and additional costs like fund management and brokerage fees. The firm charges a flat monthly rate based on an advisory fee and the Acorns Grow Program, which gives you access to its Financial Wellness System.

The subscription fee splits into three tiers:

TierSubscription Fee
Acorns Personal$3/month
Acorns Personal Plus$5/month
Acorns Premium$9/month

Investment Philosophy

When you open an account with Acorns, you’re putting a high level of trust in its robo-advisor tools to invest your money wisely and smartly. For this reason, the firm invests strictly based off of your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Additionally, it must act as a fiduciary at all times due to its status as a registered investment advisor (RIA) with the SEC.

Investments that Acorns makes on your behalf are done via an advanced “software-based” algorithm. The construction of your portfolio keeps your preferences at the forefront at all times. Over time, Acorns will rebalance to maintain your target asset allocation.

Disclosures

Acorns is registered with the SEC as an RIA. Because of this, it must file a Form ADV and report any disclosures. These are legal proceedings or regulatory actions that involve the company and its representatives, such as censures, fines, and criminal prosecution.

Per its latest Form ADV, Acorns has no disclosures with the SEC to report. However, in 2017, FINRA censured and fined the company because it didn’t keep appropriate records regarding its clients. You can keep up to date on the firm’s disclosure history by periodically looking it up on the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database.

Customer Service

If you have questions about your Acorns account or the firm’s services, you can utilize its Help Center. This has a library of information that’s likely related to the question you have. Alternatively, you can reach the company directly through one of the following methods:

  • By phone at (855) 739-2859, Monday-Friday, 9 am-6 pm PST.
  • Via an email request
  • By chatting with a representative. To do so, click Get Help in the Acorns website’s Help Center or in the app.

Phone App

You can download the Acorns app on both Apple and Android products. It allows you to manage your investment portfolio, linked credit cards, and service tiers. Both are highly rated, with 4.7 out of 5 stars for the Apple version and 4.6 out of 5 stars for the Android version.

How to Start an Account

To open an account with Acorns, you can either visit the firm’s website or app. From there, you will need to verify your identity, and then answer a series of questions about your investment preferences. These include your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. The firm will use these details to match you with a model portfolio that suits your needs.

Methodology

This review is based on publicly available information directly from Acorns’ website and the SEC. Neither the firm nor its representatives have any say on what we’ve included on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Acorns a fiduciary?

Yes, Acorns is a fiduciary. This is because it is registered with the SEC as an RIA. Because of this, it and all of its representatives must adhere to the standard and prioritize your best interest.

How do I withdraw money from Acorns?

Acorns allows you to withdraw funds from your Invest account whenever you like. However, when you do so, the firm will sell off a portion of your assets that equates to what you want to withdraw. Because much of clients’ portfolios are made up of ETFs that track the market, you should be cautious about taking money out during times when values are down. Otherwise, you could see a loss.  

Is Acorns worth it?

If you’re looking for an easy way to begin investing, Acorns is a good fit. It allows you to get started with just a few dollars. The credit card round-up feature is also helpful because it gives you the ability to make micro-investments from each transaction you make.

On the other hand, if you would like to find a robo-advisor firm that gives you more options to invest in, there may be better options out there. Acorns does much of the heavy lifting for you based on your investor profile, not giving you much choice in where your funds go. Additionally, the firm doesn’t provide you with a comprehensive financial plan.

How much do I need to open an account with Acorns?

Unlike other firms, you don’t need to make a minimum investment to open an Acorns account. You will need to pay a monthly subscription to maintain your account, however. This ranges from $3 to $9 per month, depending on the tier you select.

Is Acorns safe?

Whenever you make any investment, there is a risk that you may lose some or all of your money. However, Acorns does provide SIPC protection of up to $500,000 for its investment accounts, shielding you from losses related to the company going bankrupt.

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