I considered a number of robo-advice services for my investment, but settled on the Wealthify ISA due to its apparent flexibility and accessibility. There was no minimum upfront or ongoing investment value.
There was considerable detail on a prospective plan I could determine before creating an account. The user interface had interactive sliders for selecting upfront and intended monthly investment amounts, along with intended investment duration.
At the bottom was the question: ‘What’s your investment style?’ There were only five options, each offering slightly subjective adjectives accompanied by brief definitions, for example: cautious (I prefer to take the lowest risk option) and adventurous (I will take big risks in pursuit of the highest growth).
Each time a slider was moved, a box to the right offered real-time updates of the projected value of the investment over the specified time period, along with an arbitrary looking metre showing the risk of underperformance.
By hovering over the ‘i’ button, I could access pointers as to how to lower that risk.
Navigating the process
Clicking ‘See Your Plan’ took me to a detailed breakdown, featuring pie charts depicting regional allocations and the percentage of investment in cash, cash equivalents, corporate and government bonds and shares.
Hovering over the information button next to the projected value brought up a further explanation of what that value meant and the benchmark data it was based on. It explained the Wealthify fee of 0.7% per annum and average fund manager charges of 0.17% per annum. A table showed the annual charge reduced to 0.6% for investments over £15,000 and 0.5% for those over £50,000.
If you decide to proceed with that plan, seven questions determining your investment style follow. These include likely withdrawals, the impact of losses and the value of other external savings.
If the responses indicate personal damage may be caused by potential losses, the choices presented are to either reduce payments or exit. However, if they are deemed slightly inappropriate for the chosen investment style, the site advises amendments but allows you to proceed anyway.
I selected an ‘ambitious’ plan, which matched my answers to the questions, and invested an initial £100 plus a first £50 top-up thus far. Before the money could be invested, I had to send a photo with a witnessed proof of identification, and wait for a letter with a code so I could prove my address. The process from first visit to the website to the first investment can be completed in three to four days.
I can log in to see the value of my plan, which having been invested for around 10 days has increased by 0.07%, or 18p. I can see a breakdown of regular transaction receipts, indicating what I am invested in. I can also see a percentage breakdown of each type of investment and fund.
My intention for this ISA is as a rainy day fund, and for that purpose, I found the process fitting. However, the information obtained before accepting my investment was scarce. It did not rule out the possibility of a prospective customer, consciously or otherwise, selecting the responses they knew would match their chosen plan rather than the other way around. For that reason, I would be hesitant about using the service for larger investments.