Stash Invest Review 2019

Founded in 2015, StashInvest is a registered investment advisor, focused on simplifying the investment process and making financial markets accessible to everyone. The idea behind the company is to provide one of the best investment apps​. They want to help small or inexperienced investors by reshaping the traditional brokerage model through lower trading costs, lack of initial account minimum requirements and straightforward procedures.

​All the user has to do in order to start is to sign up for the investment app and answer an initial set of questions regarding his investment goals and risk tolerance.

​Based on the answers, the user will be presented with different investment solutions, suitable to his philosophy and goals.

After linking his bank account, the investor can start with amounts as small as $5. With the help of a digital financial advisor, no one feels lost when using StashInvest.

In the Stash Invest review you will find out more about the success behind the investment platform and how did it manage to attract more than 2 million users for its relatively short history.

Stash Invest Review

Brandon Kreig, the co-founder of StashInvest, says that the investment app is aimed at changing the fact that “Wall Street can be fundamentally unfair to smaller investors as they work to accomplish their goals”.

The pricing model suggests that StashInvest is on the right track, as it requires a $5 minimum account balance. But when it comes to the fees, things get quite different. Currently, the investment app charges fees in the range of $1 - $2 per month:

  • Account balances under $5 000 – fee of $1 per month
  • Retirement accounts under $5 000 – fee of $2 per month
  • Accounts over $5 000 – 0.25% annual fee
  • Retirement accounts for users under the age of 25 – no fees
Stash Pricing

Although the StashInvest fee structure is quite similar to its competitors, it surely leaves a lot to be desired. That is all because of the fact that the investment app is not directly involved in the investment management process for which it charges fees.

What it does is to help its users find and select investments easily, by grouping them by factors like goals, risk, expected returns, etc. With that said, StashInvest is more like a digital consultant, instead of a robo-advisor that automatizes the investment process.

For the same amount of fees, beginner users may prefer Acorns as it automatizes the whole investment process and does not require much efforts or dedication from the investor.

StashInvest’s users that start with very small amounts and are required to pay $1 or $2 per month, depending on their investment plan, just for the help of building a portfolio, are right to complain about the competitiveness of the provided price.

If we calculate them as a percentage of the investment sum, the fees seem unreasonably high.  Another thing to bear in mind is the fact that they are charged to the linked bank account and not to the investment portfolio.

Unfortunately, these are not all fees. While the fact that StashInvest’s users can take advantage of ETF and stock trading is a great advantage, the downside is that the included ETFs have an expense ratio of 0.34% which is quite high when compared to most of the competitors’ offerings.

Traded Instruments

By signing up for StashInvest, users get access to plenty of instruments to kick-off their investing career. The investment options are focused in two asset classes – stocks and ETFs.

The difference between StashInvest and its competitors is the fact that the app tries to find out what a certain user needs and what he believes in. By connecting on a personal level, the app suggests a portfolio that fits those beliefs.

​Stocks

StashInvest provides access to the shares of some of the most popular companies. By taking advantage of fractional shares investing, users can start with as little as $5 and invest in more than 110 companies.

The truth is that the focus of the investment app is mostly blue chips and it does not provide access to exotic shares or penny stocks. All this is completely understandable as its main target group is novice investors who want to make their first steps on the markets. For such type of audience, avoiding highly-volatile instruments is key.

​Exchange-Traded Funds

ETFs are regarded as one of the best options for investors who are just starting. And the great thing is that StashInvest offers more than 40 different exchange-traded funds.

Most of them are popular products, managed by Vanguard, iShares and State Street with the only difference that they are renamed.

When trying to find the Vanguard Mega Cap ETF (VMC), for example, users will need to choose the “Blue Chips” option within the StashInvest app.

Those who are willing to invest in the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF, from BlackRock Fund Advisors, will need to choose “Match the Market“ and so on and so forth.

Stash Investment Profile | Match the Market

The fact that the ETFs are renamed may be confusing to investors who are already familiar with what they want to invest in, but the company states that the main idea is to remove the financial jargon and help its users easily understand the nature of each instrument.

This also helps differentiate the ETFs by factors like mission and cause, sector, global exposure, asset class, etc. For example – three of the most popular groups are “I Believe”, “I Like”, and “I Want”.

As its name suggest, the first group consists of mission-driven ETFs that help users align the included instruments to their personal values and beliefs. The second one is focused on things that users usually like, while the third relates to the most popular investment goals.

Trading Platforms and Tools

StashInvest offers just one platform to execute trades but what is more important is that it gives users access to three different services:

  • Stash RetireThis feature will help you ensure a financially secure future by saving on taxes and for retirement from an early age. Investors can take advantage of two types of accounts - Roth and Traditional.Both of them will help you get valuable tax benefits. When signing up for Stash Retire, the app helps you pick the type of account that is most appropriate for fulfilling your investment goals.
Stash Retire
  • Stash BankingThe company wants this service to become a regular substitute for traditional banks. The main idea here is to help spend wisely, save more and invest for the long-term with just a few clicks on your mobile device.Stash Banking provides you with the opportunity to create a debit account, similar to the one you have in your bank, with the main difference that it will have zero set-up, minimum and monthly balance. Apart from that, users get free access to ATMs nationwide.The associated fees are also lower when compared to traditional banks.
  • Stash Custodial: If you are one of those parents who prefer to help their children with investment schemes from an early age, then Stash Custodial is just what you need.The custodial account can be opened with as little as $5 and you get you the flexibility to contribute to it as much and as often as you want. Parents can also take advantage of the Auto-Stash feature that allows automatic transfers and helps maintain a regular investing habit.
  • Smart-Save: StashInvest can help you become a better money manager not only by investing but by saving as well. The Smart-Save feature tracks your checking account (the income and the spending part) and automatically saves money when there is the opportunity to do so.

Education and Research    

Educational content is what really makes the investment app shine and overcome most of its competitors. As a matter of fact, its website states that StashInvest is more than just an investment app.

Instead, they claim to provide tools that simplify the investment process and help everyone become a more confident investor. It is reasonable to say that the company has managed to achieve just that.

After StashInvest asks the initial questions, needed for it to recognize the risk tolerance and investment goals, the app then narrows the investment options, so that the user can easily make a choice.

The solution that will best serve as a foundation of the portfolio is highlighted and, through the Stash Coach, the investment app helps users choose the remaining instruments and diversify their portfolios by suggesting useful educational materials.

Most of the educational content is gathered in the Stash Learn section of their website. There you will find plenty of resources, related to general investing topics, as well as in-depth guides on how to use the platform, life and money hacks.

Stash Learn

The section is divided into the following categories:

  • Teach Me – learn guides, podcasts, quizzes and other forms of content focused on finance and investments (personal finance tips, risk management, saving tricks, etc.);
  • Money News - the contributors for the corporate blog are very productive, so you will find plenty of finance- and culture-related blog articles, focused on recent news and future industry trends;
  • Life – here you can read about a wide variety of topics, such as retirement, parenting, travelling, marriage, career and many other;
  • Stash – as its name suggests, this section is focused on teaching you how to navigate the investment app;

What the investment app lacks is research tools. The only one is a forecast tool that visualizes the impact of your savings or investments over time.

Although StashInvest is focused on beginner investors with little-to-none experience, some basic features may have been a good addition.

Customer Service

Although the StashInvest app has a very clean and intuitive design (both on Android and iOS devices), the platform still offers a very informative support page​.

It's containing plenty of resources on how to navigate the investment app, as well as various topics such as investments, pricing, security, etc. There is also a user-friendly search bar that you can use to find answers to your questions.

If you want to get in touch with the company, the best way to do it is by email, via the customer support webpage or by phone. The support staff are friendly and really knowledgeable, willing to help you with all your issues.

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StashInvest Review Summary

​Rating

​Overall 3.9

Commissions & Fees

2.5

Traded Instruments

​4.0

Trading Platforms & Tools

4.0

​Education & Research

4.0

​Customer Service

​5.0

StashInvest is a great fit for investors who seek an easy way to buy ETFs and stocks.

The included educational content covers all aspects of investing and provides valuable information that can help beginner investors with no experience, to build portfolios and maintain their steady performance over time.

The fact that the investment app provides access to fractional shares is a great way for one to ensure a good diversification with very small capital.

Apart from that, the no-fee retirement accounts for individuals under the age of 25 make StashInvest a great choice to save for the future.

Yet, for advanced investors, StashInvest does not have plenty of features to offer and for the applied fees, there surely are better solutions on the market.

That is why, the best way to use the investment app is to do it right from the start – to learn as much as possible about investing and when you feel confident enough to go on your own or find a more cost-efficient and flexible solution.

​Pros

​Cons

​A great choice for young investors

​High trading costs

​Very informative learning center

​High ETF expense ratios

​Professional customer support

​Lack of research tools

​A wide variety of traded instruments