Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Reviews 2017

Product Introduction

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services has been considered one of the top financial advisory firms since its inception. With Vanguard’s experience and reputation behind it, this online offering provides a combination of investment management, asset allocation, and personal financial coaching.

Vanguard established its automated investing program in 2013. Unlike many of its competitors in the field, it offers human advisors with CPA certifications and an online portal so you can check on your investments.

Types of Accounts Supported/Facts

Vanguard manages $3 trillion dollars in assets. They oversee more mutual funds than any other financial company, and trades more ETFs (exchange-traded funds) than any other company except Blackrock.

Investors need to have deep pockets initially to work with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. They require a $50,000 minimum deposit to start an account. The 0.30% management fee pertains to all accounts regardless of the balance; Vanguard offers no discounted fees for larger accounts.

You may encounter other fees, depending on your financial plan. The ETFs and mutual funds in your portfolio may be 0.05% for index funds or as high as 0.40% for certain managed funds. You may be charged brokerage commissions when ETFs are purchased. No commission fees are applied if Vanguard advisors buy Vanguard ETFs

Supported Account Types

  • Traditional IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • Individual and Joint Accounts
  • 529 College Plans*
  • Trusts
  • 401(k)s*
  •  SEP IRAs
  • Rollovers

*Vanguard Personal Advisor Services doesn’t directly manage 401(k)s, 529 plans, and certain other outside assets, but will include them in your financial plan.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services use Vanguard Brokerage Services for all trades. SIPC insurance covers all accounts up to $500,000. Lloyds of London offers additional coverage up to $50,000,000 per account.

How Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Works

A Vanguard advisor works with new clients to review investments and goals. You’ll receive a financial plan customized to your situation. The advisor then puts together a portfolio of bonds and cheap diversified stock to fulfill your goals.

You’ll call a toll-free number and receive a free consultation. The call may last up to an hour. After the phone consultation, you’ll register for a free Vanguard account and fill out an intake questionnaire. You’ll discuss your answers during a second phone consultation.

It may take a few weeks for Vanguard to formulate a plan. Once a plan is formalized, the Asset Transfer Team will help you transfer your existing accounts to Vanguard.

You’ll have access to a team of Vanguard advisors if you have a balance of $500,000 or less. You’ll get a dedicated advisor if you have more than $500,000 in your account.

Unlike other automated investment systems, Vanguard has a “set it and forget it”experience for clients regarding upkeep. Your advisor sets up your portfolio after your initial meetings. You’ll never need to do any manual inputting after setting up your online account. All you need to do is check your portfolio. Contact your advisor when you have questions or want to change your goals, deposit schedule or other aspects of your account.


Once your advisor has analyzed your goals, you can log in to your account and see your personal recommendations for achieving them.  Investments for retirement savings may recommend a new asset mix of 100% stock instead of a current asset mix of 95% stocks and 5% bonds.

A screen featuring “Accounting for Different Marketing Scenarios” will project your savings year-by-year for best and worst markets, according to a pre-determined yearly contribution.

An “Elements of Investing” screen explains how important a mixed asset allocation will be to your annual returns.

Vanguard uses the Vanguard Capital Markets Model to estimate returns. A simulation tool created by Vanguard Investment Strategy Group, it analyzes historical data, like interest rates, for fixed income and commodities to generate projected long-term returns.

Tax Optimization

Vanguard optimizes your taxes by allocating taxes across account types. Highly taxable items will be placed in tax-sheltered retirement accounts, and advisors will put tax-efficient investments in taxable accounts.

Automatic Deposits

The service can deposit money into your accountaccording to a pre-determined schedule, either weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or every other month.

Automatic Rebalancing

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services rebalances your account quarterly unless your financial plan indicates otherwise.

Low-fee Mutual Funds

You’ll receive access to low-fee Vanguard Admiral class mutual funds with nominimum per fund.

Your portfolio may include mostly index funds instead of ETFs, which include:

  • Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt Fund Admiral Shares
  • Vanguard Intermediate-Term Investment-Grade Fund Admiral Shares
  • Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral Shares
  • Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund Admiral Shares
  • Vanguard Total International Bond Index Fund Admiral Shares
  • Vanguard Short-Term Investment-Grade Fund Admiral Shares
  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares

Mobile Apps

Access your accounts on free iPhone, iPad, tablet or Android apps or via your desktop computer.

With your Vanguard Personal Advisor Services app, you can:

  • View your investment returns and asset mix
  • Check account balances, transaction history, and performance
  • Get market and financial news
  • Goal analysis based on your financial consultation

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services sends you personalized quarterly progress reports reviewing your investments.

Customer service operates by phone Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., ET. Email assistance keeps the same hours.

Potential Drawbacks

  • New or young investors may not be able to afford the minimum deposit of $50,000.
  • Vanguard services include at least some fees for ETF and index fund transactions. Although the fees are small, most new robo-advisor firms (Betterment, Personal Capital, etc.) don’t pass any transaction fees to customers, just investment expenses, and management fees.
  • You can’t purchase fractional shares through this service, or receive any special promotions.
  • Vanguard allocates a mix of taxable and tax-deferred accounts within your account, but they don’t offer tax-loss harvesting.
  • Although Vanguard offers a dedicated personal advisor, you’ll need to consult with him or her by email, Live Chat or phone; Vanguard Personal Advisor Services doesn’t have in-person consultations.

Who Will Benefit from Using This Product?

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services can help you make the most of your assets with its personalized financial planning and advisors if you can easily meet the $50,000 minimum.

Going through some changes? Vanguard consultants can customize your financial plan when marriage, job changes, a new baby, and other life events change your circumstances. Modifying financial plans with only a digital algorithm offered by automated advisory service may take longer and not be as accurate.


Vanguard Personal Advisor Services works best if you’re looking for an old-fashioned investment advisor without the high fees. It bridges the gap between hands-off robo-advisor and an in-person advisor in an office building.

This well-known financial company offers a cheaper service than a traditional financial planner if you have $50,000 or more to invest. You’ll work with an advisor over the phone (or email), but achieve the same results.

Vanguard has fewer overall services than competing automated investment companies, but its emphasis on consultations with financial advisors makes it an excellent choice for many investors.

A few websites containing Vanguard Personal Advisor Services reviews cite the company’s ability to connect with clients through an advisor in case of life changes.

About the Author HarryC

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