Merrill Guided Investing vs. E*TRADE Core Portfolios: Which is Best for You?

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Title: Merrill Guided Investing vs. E*TRADE Core Portfolios: A Comprehensive Comparison

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In today’s digital age, robo-advisors have revolutionized the way individuals invest their money. These automated investment platforms offer a convenient and cost-effective solution for those seeking professional guidance without the hefty fees. Two prominent players in this space are Merrill Guided Investing and E*TRADE Core Portfolios. In this article, we will delve into the key differences between these platforms, helping you make an informed decision about which robo-advisor is best suited for your investment needs.

1. Investment Approach:

Merrill Guided Investing adopts a goals-based approach, focusing on your financial objectives and risk tolerance to create a personalized investment strategy. Their team of experts actively manages your portfolio, making adjustments as needed to keep you on track. On the other hand, E*TRADE Core Portfolios utilizes a passive investment strategy, primarily based on low-cost index funds. While they do not offer personalized advice, their algorithm rebalances your portfolio periodically to maintain your desired asset allocation.

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2. Account Minimums and Fees:

Merrill Guided Investing requires a minimum investment of $5,000, making it more suitable for investors with a larger initial capital. They charge an annual advisory fee of 0.45%, which is relatively competitive given the personalized approach and active management. In contrast, E*TRADE Core Portfolios has a lower minimum investment requirement of just $500, making it accessible to a wider range of investors. They charge an annual advisory fee of 0.30%, making it an attractive option for cost-conscious individuals.

3. Investment Options:

Merrill Guided Investing offers a diverse range of investment options, including individual stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. They provide access to both domestic and international markets, allowing you to build a well-rounded portfolio. E*TRADE Core Portfolios, on the other hand, primarily focuses on low-cost ETFs. While they offer a limited selection of asset classes, their approach ensures broad market exposure and diversification.

4. Human Advisor Access:

One notable difference between the two platforms is the availability of human advisor access. Merrill Guided Investing provides clients with the option to connect with a financial advisor for personalized guidance and support. This feature can be particularly beneficial for investors who prefer a human touch or have complex financial situations. E*TRADE Core Portfolios, however, does not offer direct access to human advisors, relying solely on their algorithm-driven approach.

5. Educational Resources:

When it comes to educational resources, Merrill Guided Investing stands out with its comprehensive library of articles, videos, and webinars. These resources cover a wide range of topics, from basic investing principles to more advanced strategies. E*TRADE Core Portfolios also offers educational materials, but they are relatively limited in comparison. If you value access to educational content to enhance your investment knowledge, Merrill Guided Investing may be the better choice.

6. Mobile App Experience:

Both Merrill Guided Investing and E*TRADE Core Portfolios provide mobile apps for convenient portfolio management on the go. Merrill’s app offers a user-friendly interface with robust features, including account monitoring, goal tracking, and real-time market updates. E*TRADE’s app is equally intuitive, allowing you to track your portfolio’s performance, make trades, and access market research. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your personal preference and ease of use.


In summary, Merrill Guided Investing and E*TRADE Core Portfolios are both reputable robo-advisors with distinct features and advantages. Merrill’s personalized approach, human advisor access, and extensive educational resources make it an excellent choice for investors seeking a more hands-on experience. On the other hand, E*TRADE’s lower minimum investment requirement, lower fees, and passive investment strategy make it a compelling option for cost-conscious individuals looking for a more automated approach. By considering your investment goals, risk tolerance, and preferences, you can make an informed decision about which robo-advisor aligns best with your financial aspirations.

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