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Stash Invest rating

Stash Invest Review


2019 Stash invest review, account fees, broker rates, robo advisor mobile app pros and cons, performance/returns, fund withdrawals, and problems.



Stash Invest Overview


Stash is one of the most popular and talked about investing apps out there. Love it or hate it, it is probably here to stay. Offering a $5 sign up bonus, with the “low” monthly price of $1 maintenance fees, it has attracted over 2.4 million users. It continues to grow and offer more services to offer the investing and banking option many millennials and younger generations want, with the flexibility to manage it all yourself with the click of a few buttons on a smart phone. 


Stash App Review


Investment Options


Stash is constantly updating and improving their investment options. They started selling just fractional shares in ETFs, but have since then they have expanded into individual stocks and a wider array of ETFs. They are currently pitching their new retirement account and debit account and will give you another $5 to set those up. You can sign up for the retirement account with $5 and reserve your debit account for $5. However, each of these new accounts will cost you additional fees.


Stash investments


Account Set Up and Investing At Stash


Account set up is fast an easy and requires the same info you need for establishing any sort of financial account. It can be done in less than 30 minutes and done from either a computer or smart phone. 

After account set up, which should generate a $5 bonus, Stash will assess your risk tolerance and timeline for investment. It will recommend what they call an “Auto-Stash” mix, or a recommended blend of investments which will most closely match your risk tolerance and personal preferences for investing. You don’t need to use their mix and are more than welcome to set up your own. It will also recommend that you set up recurring automatic transfers, but it’s not necessary. 

In the past year, Stash has begun offering the ability to invest in individual stocks, allowing the investor to select from over 110 companies (and the list keeps growing). The Stash Coach will warn you if you go outside your risk profile or have over a certain percentage of your investable assets in individual stocks. With the addition of individual stocks, you could potentially replicate or add to an ETF that you prefer with a $1 a month fee, which could make it cheaper in the long run to own, depending on how much you invest.


Stash Investing App


Withdrawing Funds at Stash


To withdraw funds from Stash, you must select what stocks/fund to sell, wait for the sale to go through, and then cash out. It usually takes about one business day to finish the sale, and 3-5 days for the transfer to your bank account. You also have to wait the one business day in order to reinvest your money, if you choose that option.


Stash Fees


Unlike most other investing platforms, Stash charges user $1 a month management fee for all accounts with a balance under $5,000. The fee changes to 0.25% once the account hits the $5,000 mark. Other investment apps like Betterment or Wealthsimple charge a percentage for a fee. I think this is an effective marketing tactic, since most people think $1 isn’t much. However, this means you pay $12 a year to have your money managed. If you have less than $1200 in your account, Stash is charging you more than 1% a month to manage your money, which is way more than other apps. That $5 bonus covers part of that, but if you have less than $700, you are still paying over 1% of your invested money. The kicker is that the $1 comes from your bank account, not from your invested assets. 

On the plus side, Stash doesn’t charge any trading fees. So, this makes them better than a lot of the traditional trading platforms that charge over $5 per trade. 

One note on fees. Stash simply uses already existing ETFs and funds, which have expense ratios. Stash doesn’t cover those for you, you pay those because you bought part of that fund. Some of the funds are expensive, such as the “Robots Rising” fund, which charges a 0.95% expense ratio while only paying a 0.03% dividend. That is on top of the Stash management fee. So, if you have $100 invested in Robot Rising as your only investment and hold it for a year, it will cost you $7.95 ($12 monthly fees -$5 sign up bonus, plus the expense ratio). The dividend is only going to be $0.30, and this doesn’t even consider market volatility. 

Stash helps mitigate the $1 per month fee. As mentioned above, they give you $5 just to sign up, which is 5 months of account management for free. In January 2019, Stash started a weekly challenge through the Stash Coach where you could earn a fee waiver for one month of management fee. They ended it after two weeks, but they promised to bring something similar back later in the year. So that’s a potential for 4 months free, if you can do all the tasks. They might be answering trivia (based on a Stash Learn article), putting $5 into a recommended fund, or something like that. So, there are ways to reduce your yearly management fee. Hopefully they will offer similar perks for their retirement and debit accounts.

However, with all that, Stash has the Stash Coach which tries to guide you towards a better balance of investments. The system knows your risk tolerance and time horizons and tries to make sure your investments line up with that. It doesn’t consider the expense ratios of the ETFs it uses, but you can easily find that on the details page of every investment and use it as a factor in deciding whether to buy it. 


User Interface


Stash offers both a web site and an app, and both are extremely easy to use. The website and the app offer an overview of your portfolio, the ability to do limited research on all the supported ETFs and stocks. The investor can see how each individual investment is doing, how many shares (or percentage of shares) you own, the dividend ratio, and the upcoming investments you have in your Auto-Stash. 


Stash Portfolio


The app also offers a limited future modeling ability, but it is very basic. You can input your expected monthly contributions and a potential rate of return, and it imports your current investment amount. It then shows you an expected value for 1, 5, and 10 years from now. 


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Dividends, Taxes, and Paperwork


Dividends are not reinvested automatically, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. In many other apps, dividends are reinvested either in the stock that generated it, or back into the fund that generated it. On the positive side, you can select where to reinvest those dividends. On the negative side, it takes away from the automatic nature of investing that you signed up for. 

All taxes, statements, prospectus, and other paperwork is available on the Stash website under the profile page. It doesn’t handle any of that for you but does provide the paperwork in an easy to find location when it comes time to do your taxes. 


Client Interaction


One of the best features of Stash is the Stash Coach. While it is an automated system, it encourages you to learn and understand investing. It gives you intelligent options on how to invest your money in a balanced manner. It turns investing into a sort of game, giving you points (not worth any cash, sorry!) for completing challenges. These challenges are extremely helpful in learning more about investing and guides you in investing more intelligently.

One of the other best features is the Stash Learn page. It is available on both the app and the website and is a great resource for those who have no knowledge about investing. It has articles about market volatility, beginners’ guides, dollar cost averaging, and many other great topics. This makes Stash an extremely attractive platform for first time investors. One thing that many people don’t realize, however, is that Stash Learn is free on their website. It will constantly spur you to set up an account and invest with Stash, but the knowledge is there and free for the taking.

Two upcoming offers that Stash will be offering are exciting. One is the Round-Up feature, where you link a bank account to your Stash account, and it rounds up every purchase and transfers the difference to the cash balance of your Stash account. Smart Stash is the other new feature. This automatically transfers a small amount of money every day, which varies based on the account balance. These are both in the beta test phase but will make automated investing much easier.

Contact information is listed on the website in the profile page, and under the options page on the app. 


Comparison


Compare Stash vs Ameritrade, Etrade, Fidelity, Schwab...


Stash Invest Review: The Final Word


While Stash might not offer all of the research capability or options you might find in other investing apps, it does a great job of educating new investors and providing a broad range of options for investors to choose from. It is constantly growing and evolving, offering new opportunities for investment every few months. In the past year, Stash has rolled out a retirement option, a soon to be released debit card options, pairing your account for incentives through Swagbucks, and the ability to invest in individual stocks instead of just funds.

This app is perfect for those who have never invested before and have a bit of money to put into it. With the $1 a month management fee, there are better options for those with under $1,000 which will charge significantly less. They may not be as user friendly, but it will save you money in the long run. However, with for over $1,000 account balance, management costs are below 1%, which makes it more competitive with other apps such as Wealthsimple or Betterment, though still more expensive than a completely free broker M1 Finance.


Stash reviewed by Brokerage-Review.com on . Rating: 4