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Finance | Robo Advisor vs Mutual Funds: What are the Key Differences?

Robo Advisor vs Mutual Funds: What are the Key Differences?

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You must want your Returns on Investment (ROI) to be as high as possible. But you may not have the time or knowledge to look into all the different ways to spend in depth. As a result, you can turn to robo-advisors or mutual funds to spend their money for you. It could be hard to decide whether to use robo advisor vs mutual fund. 

Robo financial advisors are computer programs that build a fund investment strategy for you based on your specific needs. On the other hand, mutual funds are like pre-made portfolios that you can buy. The knowledge of professional managers who handle the day-to-day management and changes is the cause of this. These two investment alternatives each have a great chance of succeeding.

In order to help you choose which option best suits your requirements, we'll compare Robo Advisors vs Mutual Funds in this post.

What is a Robo Advisor?

A computerized financial advisor known as a "robo-advisor" handles assets or offers financial advice with little to no human involvement. Robo financial advisors are made to provide advice to investors digitally depending on their inputs. Despite the fact that in theory robo-advisors should operate with little human involvement, this is seldom the case in actual use. 

To comprehend and forecast investor preferences, risks, and objectives, robo-advisors employ algorithms. They often do this by posing a series of inquiries that result in a sample portfolio.

The simplest form of the profile questionnaire will ask about your gender, income, liabilities, risk tolerance, and current asset allocation.

Simplistic robo-advisors will develop the investor profile using this data. Comprehensive robo-advisors use data and AI to find more in-depth information. To comprehend the real financial behavior of the investor, they employ financial activities such as investment, bank, and credit card transactions. Comprehensive robo-advisors may assess your financial behavior and how you would react in certain circumstances with the aid of these cutting-edge instruments. It assists them in developing a fund investment strategy.

The assets under management have a CAGR of 14.63% from 2023 to 2027, reaching US $2 trillion by that year.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Robo Financial Advisor

Robo advisors are advantageous in many different ways. You must not, however, ignore the drawbacks. 


Most suitable for passive investment

Robo-advisors are a fantastic choice if you wish to invest passively. A personalized portfolio that meets your specific demands is also an option. You simply need to make deposits and withdrawals after creating an account and providing the programme with your financial information, and then regularly assess how you're doing.


The costs are instantly lowered since no administrative framework or staff are needed. It has a lot of advantages. You may have both apples (customization) and oranges (cost-effectiveness) with robo advisors. Additionally, starting up just needs little or no capital.

Financial advisors normally charge 1-2%, with extra commission-based costs conceivable, according to Investopedia.


Added Management Costs

Do you understand how robo advisors help you build your investment portfolio? Investing in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) is the solution. They also charge management fees. Because of the cost-per-share of the mutual funds the robo-advisor invests in on your behalf and the fee that the robo-advisor charges, you will often pay more when using a robo-advisor.

No Human Contribution

Remember that robo-advisors aren't real people as well. They are only as good as their programming and the data you provide them. If you don't provide genuine and accurate responses to all of its inquiries or if your financial situation changes, a robo-advisor may not have built the right portfolio.

What is a Mutual Fund?

In order to invest in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and other assets, mutual funds aggregate the funds from shareholders. A significant distinction between a robo advisor vs. mutual fund is that mutual funds are managed by professionals who distribute the fund's assets and try to generate income or capital gains for the fund's investors. The portfolio of a mutual fund is set up and kept up to date in accordance with the specified investment goals in the prospectus.

Small or individual investors have access to professionally managed portfolios of stocks, bonds, and other assets via mutual funds. As a result, each shareholder shares proportionately in the fund's profits or losses. investing in mutual fund's several securities, and performance is often measured as a change in the fund's overall market capitalization, which is obtained from the performance of the fund's underlying investments combined.

It's important for investors such as yourself to understand the difference between index fund and mutual fund. A type of passively handled pooled investment vehicle referred to as an index fund endeavors to replicate the financial results of a specific benchmark, such as the S&P 500. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mutual Funds

The drawbacks of robo advisor vs mutual funds' benefits outweigh the Robo financial advisors' drawbacks. Before making an investment decision, you must take the disadvantages into account as well.


Professional Management

Professional full-time money managers who have the knowledge, experience, and resources to actively purchase, sell, and monitor investments are in charge of running a mutual fund. To achieve the goals of the plan, a fund manager regularly examines investments and rebalances the portfolio as necessary.

Great Returns

Investing in mutual funds that are top-notch may provide returns of 10–12% annually on average, and in their best years, they can generate returns of 20–30%. One of the top long-term performers is S&P 500-based mutual funds.

Easy to Invest

It is simple to invest with mutual funds. You may keep them in many various types of accounts, such as brokerage accounts, IRAs, and employer-sponsored retirement plans. Simply place an order for the quantity of shares you want to purchase, and then wait for the order to be completed at the close of the trading day.


Higher Tax Payments

When you invest in mutual funds, you don't have to be concerned with constantly purchasing and selling shares. That often implies that the ordinary investor has to put in a lot less effort. However, year-end payments to investors may result from a mutual fund selling assets from its holdings, and these distributions represent taxable investment income.

Depending on how long the fund held an investment, these distributions are taxed at ordinary income rates or capital gains rates, which might result in a higher-than-anticipated tax payment at the end of the year. 

No Intraday Trading

Mutual funds only trade once each day, after the market closes at 4 p.m. Eastern time, in contrast to equities and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). For passive investors, this is not a major issue, but if you manually make orders, it can result in a different order price than you anticipate.

Lacks Personalization

The biggest problem with robo advisor vs mutual fund is that you can't customize them. You might be able to find a fund that fits your plan and goals, but that's not a given.

Robo-advisors can easily tailor your portfolio to your needs and build one that will help you reach your goals.

Read Also:- 10 Reasons Why You Should Start Investing in 20s

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Robo Advisor vs Mutual Fund: What are the Key Differences?

These two solutions each have a great chance of success. Additionally, if you lack knowledge and don't really know what you're doing, they may both be far better than attempting to invest the money yourself. Despite accomplishing the same task, there are differences between robo advisor vs mutual fund. Let’s get to know more.

ParametersRobo AdvisorMutual Funds
FeesLower fees due to machine managed activitiesHigher fees due to human involvement
CustomizationYou can have portfolios tailored to your own needs and risk preferencesMutual funds provide access to a wide range of investment options but don't allow for the same degree of personalization
DiversificationProvide diversified portfolios with a variety of asset types.Provide diversity, although the degree will depend on the technique used by the fund.
Minimum Investment RequirementsThe minimum balance requirements differ per mutual fund and robo-advisor.
The majority of mutual funds have minimum investment requirements between $1,000 and $3,000, however, some of them have no such requirements.
FlexibilityNeeds internet access, and offers automated rebalancing.They may be sold or purchased at the end of each day.
Tax EfficiencyDue to index-based strategies' decreased portfolio turnover, they may be tax-efficient.Depending on fund activity, it provides capital gains distributions that might influence tax obligations.
RisksIdentity theft or financial damage may come from unauthorized access to your personal and financial data.You could experience loss as a result of someone else being in charge of your investment and prices of these investment instruments often change in reaction to a variety of variables.

Let’s understand each of them in detail


Cost is one of the first considerations with any investing service. Fees have a significant impact on the long-term investment results you get. Over 10, 20, or 30 years, even a tiny discrepancy in fees may add up to enormous sums.

For instance, Wealthfront, a robo-advisor, levies an annual fee of 0.25%, while the yearly cost ratio for the Vanguard Wellesley Income Fund (VWINX) is 0.23%.

Remember that robo-advisors often construct your portfolio by investing your assets in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds. In other words, you pay your robo-advisor's management fee on top of the expense ratios imposed by the mutual funds that the robo-advisor invests your money in. As a result, using a robo-advisor is often more costly than buying mutual funds directly.

On the other hand, the cost ratios of mutual funds might vary greatly. Some funds, particularly passively managed ones, have cost ratios that are very low or nonexistent. Others may charge 1% or more, mainly actively managed funds.


Robo financial advisors provide increased degrees of customisation. They evaluate your financial situation, degree of risk tolerance, investing objectives, and much more. Following the evaluation, they create a portfolio for you. 

Consider following a diet plan that you found on an internet randomly and seeing a dietitian on your own. You could have more problems with a diet plan you choose from any website than you would if you didn't stick to one. You can only look at the available funds, take into account the fund investment strategy, and invest in the mutual fund that most closely resembles your objectives when buying mutual funds. You cannot alter their tactics in any way.

While working with a dietician, you may develop a plan that is ideal for your health and has long-term advantages. A robo-advisor may also modify your investing portfolio depending on your unique circumstances and preferences.


You may spread your risk over a variety of assets by diversifying. It develops a diversified portfolio using robo advisors, which lowers risks and volatility. It gives exposure to a variety of possible growth sources and aids in reducing the long-term effects of market swings. 

Additionally, robo financial advisors adjust your portfolio on their own.  For instance, the robo advisor may sell a portion of one asset class to restore the original allocation if its value rises sufficiently.

When comparing mutual fund vs robo advisor, the former does not provide as high a degree of diversity as the latter. They provide a limited range of investments. Mutual fund returns and risks both rise as a result. While some funds provide more diversity, certain funds may give exposure to a particular industry or market niche.

Minimum Investment

There are sometimes minimum investment requirements for investments. You must have sufficient funds to meet that requirement before you can begin investing.

The minimum balance requirements differ as per robo-advisor vs mutual fund. For instance, Wealthfront requires a minimum commitment of $500. Betterment, a rival robo-advisor, does not have a minimum balance restriction, but its Premium service does demand that customers maintain at least $100,000 in their accounts.


Robo financial advisors make online investments and rebalance portfolios to deviate from your objectives and the intended allocation. Through the internet platform, investors may contribute money or withdraw it, which is quite convenient.

However, mutual funds also provide some freedom, mainly in terms of purchasing and selling shares. At the conclusion of each day, mutual funds are available for purchase and sale at their Net Asset Value. It offers liquidity, which means that after selling your shares, you may redeem them for cash within 3–4 days. 

Tax Efficiency

Tax-loss harvesting has become more accessible because of robo-advisors. These automatic programmes essentially keep an eye out around-the-clock for opportunities to reduce your taxes. If all goes according to plan, you may save thousands without having an effect on the stability or balance of your portfolio. You have the potential to earn even greater profits if you reinvest that money.

Tax knowledge is a crucial component of wise investment. If you do it correctly, you may reduce your tax liability and increase returns.

When fund managers acquire and sell securities within the fund's portfolio, mutual funds may receive capital gains distributions. Investors may experience taxable events as a consequence of these payouts. The greater turnover rates of actively managed mutual funds may result in more frequent capital gains distributions and possible tax repercussions for investors.

Read Also:- Fidelity Automatic Investing: Step-by-Step Guide


Even while automated investing platforms have grown in popularity recently, there are some significant concerns that investors need to be aware of before using them.

Risks with Robo Financial Advisor

Statistical Risks

Since robo-advisors use algorithms to choose which investments to make, there is a chance for mistakes, biases, or overfitting, which might result in poor results. 

Very Little Customization

Numerous automated platforms use generic algorithms, which could not take into account unique tastes or unique financial circumstances. 

Technology reliance has gone too far

Investors risk becoming unduly dependent on the automated system and forgoing diligent investment monitoring. It is important to understand that a machine can not accurately judge market swings and instantly modify the plan. Sometimes it may, sometimes it may not. 

Cyber security risks

Using robo advisor, you may face problems like hacking or any other cybersecurity problems. Given that this is a financial sector, it can result in monetary losses.

Mutual Fund Risks

Risk of Volatility

Usually, equity-based funds in stocks of publicly traded companies. Such funds' value depends on the performance of the firms, which is often impacted by prevailing microeconomic issues.

Interest in Risk

Mutual fund risks result from the fact that the cost of the debt instrument changes along with changes in interest rates. For instance, if interest rates rise, bonds' value decreases as well because of the falling bond price.

Inflation Risk

The easiest way to explain it is the threat of losing one's purchasing power, mostly as a consequence of rising inflation. This risk often affects investors when the rate of investment returns is lower than the rate of inflation growth. 

Rebalancing of Risk

The mutual fund managers closely monitor and change them on a regular basis. However, repeated reinvestments carry the risk of losing out on investment growth opportunities.


So, which is the best?

It might be challenging to choose between a robo advisor vs mutual fund.

You'll need to thoroughly consider your options before choosing between using mutual funds or robo-advisors as your investment vehicle.

On the one hand, a robo financial adviser is the best option if you want to invest in the most hands-off manner possible. It will completely create and manage your portfolio on its own. Investing in mutual funds is quite simple, but you must make an effort to choose the appropriate funds.

Additionally, robo-advisors provide certain extra advantages and services. Tax-loss harvesting is a well-liked service that they claim may boost your returns, often by an amount that exceeds the costs they charge.

Mutual funds, on the other hand, are probably a better option if you want to keep your charges as low as possible. Using a robo-advisor may be overkill if you have modest financial objectives or don't have the substantial sums of money required to get meaningful advantages from techniques like tax-loss harvesting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 Robo Advisor vs Mutual Fund: What is more affordable?

Costs and fees are undoubtedly important. Many inexpensive mutual funds have management costs of less than 0.10 percent. However, the underlying Mutual Funds fees are in addition to the Robo "Advisor" fees.

In comparison to the underlying fund's 0.10 percent fees when invested directly, using a Robo Advisor will likely cost you 0.25 percent extra, or 0.35 percent overall. The costs do add up over a ten-year period when applied to a portfolio with hundreds or millions of dollars.

Q.2 Should I use a Robo-Advisor or do my own investing?

The answer to this question mostly depends on your objectives and preferences. Robo-advisors make investing much more automated, but they might be more expensive than doing it yourself. If you want to have a personalized touch to your fund investment strategy, mutual funds offer a good option.

Q.3 How Risky Are Robotic Advisors?

Robo financial advisors may create safer portfolios that will lose less value during market downturns or riskier portfolios that concentrate disproportionately on volatile assets. Everything relies on the objectives and level of risk tolerance you provide to the robo-advisor.