About a year ago, I was introduced to the term ‘robo-advisor’ and ‘robo-investing’ via an app called StashAway.

During that time, StashAway has just expanded to Malaysia (they are based in Singapore), and the idea of investing your money with an algorithm-run money management platform (instead of conventional mutual funds) was still very fresh among fellow Malaysians (and no worries, they are regulated by the Securities Commission of Malaysia).

Along the year, similar competitors like Wahed and MyTheo (reviews coming soon!) were also launched into this exciting space – offering more options to fellow Malaysians that are interested to invest passively.

Fast forward to 2020, let’s look into how StashAway has fared in 2019, and while it is the first robo-investing platform, does it still provide the best offerings to fellow Malaysians?

Read: Introduction to StashAway – How Does it Work?




Quick Recap: What is a Robo-Advisor?

Essentially, robo-advisory platforms like StashAway, Wahed, and MyTheo help to invest your money according to your risk preferences and goals through algorithms instead of typical fund managers.

I like to think of these platforms as a mutual fund alternative that offers a cheaper and more affordable way to invest passively (more about fees below).




My StashAway Returns in 2019 & How I am using it in 2020?

One of the most fun ways to start a review about an investment solution is, of course, to talk about the returns.

To be honest, I’ve only funded my StashAway account once to really test out the platform in 2019, and totally put it behind my mind since then (that’s the whole point of passive investing, right?).

To my surprise, my StashAway portfolio has performed decently in 2019. Combined, both my aggressive portfolios (30% & 36% risk index) returned a very respectable ~11.6% return in 2019.

Looking back, this should not come as a surprise at all. This is because a majority of the fund allocation of the aggressive portfolios goes to U.S. sectoral equities – and the U.S. market has been crushing it in 2019. (Kudos to StashAway’s algorithms for catching the trend!)

As a whole, I am quite happy with how StashAway has been managing my money.

From 2020 onwards, I have started to save on StashAway via a recurring monthly deposit to 2 moderate-risk portfolios (10% & 14% risk index).


A large portion of the allocation in my aggressive portfolio is invested in the US market.




Fees Comparison: The most competitive & versatile fees across the Robo-Investing space

One huge advantage that robo-investing services have over conventional mutual funds is its fees.

In general, while typical mutual funds have an average fee of 3-5% per year, robo-investing services charge only a fraction of the fee (<1%).

This is significant, as a few percentage differences in fee could mean a lot to your return. Here is a simple calculation to give you an idea:


 RM100,000 at 5% fee per year = RM5,000 on fees.


RM100,000 at 1% fee per year = RM1,000 on fees (and no, robo-investing services offer lower fee than 1% at RM100,000).

The question now is, how are StashAway’s annual fees compared to the other presently available robo-investing platforms – Wahed and MyTheo?

Now, every robo-investing platform has its own tiers of pricing. Hence, to make my life (and yours) easier, I am comparing the fee in terms of the category of fund amount.


Full fees details: StashAway, Wahed, MyTheo

As you can see, StashAway’s fee is highly competitive, and it gets even better as you invest more with them.

In terms of fees, StashAway definitely nailed it among all the competitors – a perfect representation of ‘the more you invest, the less you pay’.

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Customer Service: Still Solid?

At this point in the article, I would like to point out that while lower fees are important, it is not everything. A lower fee that compromises the overall customer experience is a NO-NO.

What’s the point if a company has a low fee but no one is attending to customers’ issues properly?

If any, StashAway held pride in their customer service. In a 2019 year-end email to customers, StashAway boasted an 8-seconds average response time for calls during office hours.


To test out StashAway’s customer service in 2020, I sent out inquiries to all 3 channels of customer support available: Email, Phone & WhatsApp, all during office hours. Is StashAway’s claim about their customer service legit?

As you can see below, StashAway’s customer service is pretty solid. In short, they get the job done.


Solid Response Time from StashAway CS team (Standard as per my personal expectation).




What I Like about StashAway (2020)

There is a lot to like about StashAway as an innovative solution for passive investing, and here are 5 things that I like about StashAway:


(1) Ideology/Investing Philosophy

Since the technology and strategies employed by robo-advisor platforms are proprietary, there is no way for us to backtest the strategies’ effectiveness on our own.

In this case, knowing the ideology behind the people that creates these proprietary strategies is crucial. This gives us a good idea about the approach and mindset of a robo-advisory platform towards the market.

As such, I like StashAway’s CIO Freddy Lim’s ideology in making risk a primary consideration while delivering returns and value to the users:


The ultimate goal is to deliver competitive returns at the appropriate level of risk and at a fraction of the cost incurred by traditional strategies.


(2) Competitive and versatile fees

As compared in the section above, StashAway stands out as the robo-investing platform that offers the most competitive and versatile fees for customers of all financial capabilities.

Big thumbs up on that.


(3) Customer service

In my first write-up about StashAway last year, I mentioned that I liked StashAway’s customer service and the point is still solid this year. 

Also, do you know that StashAway is presently (at the time of writing), THE only robo-advisor that offers the convenience of funds transfer between your portfolios? (eg. You can transfer funds from your aggressive portfolio to moderate ones)


(4) Large range of asset classes

In August of 2019, StashAway introduced 13 new asset classes into their already huge asset selections, making up to 32 asset classes that StashAway can use to better optimize customers’ risk and returns.

In other words, this means that StashAway has more flexibility and versatility to best preserve and invest customers’ funds in the face of increasing market uncertainties.


(5) Community & Value Driven

Over the past year, one thing that I really respect the StashAway team is their effort in adding value to the community (while building their brand awareness, of course).

I like how StashAway has been actively organizing talks on the theme of financial planning and investing for the community. These are little things that add value to the people, but requires huge time and effort – kudos to the team again.

Don’t Miss This: Click HERE to Get an EXCLUSIVE 50% OFF Your (already low) StashAway Fees today!




What Could be Better? (2020)


(1) Bring more innovative financial solutions to Malaysia

One of the things from StashAway that really made me excited last year was the release of StashAway Simple.


StashAway Simple is the company’s answer to Fixed Deposit (FD) and FD-alternatives like the conventional Money Market Fund – hence with a low-risk index of around 1.7% with no lock-up period (unlike FD).


I was excited about StashAway Simple, until I noticed that it was only available in Singapore.


What I would love to see from StashAway in 2020 is the release of StashAway Simple in Malaysia, as I am sick of the manual form-filling process of our local financial services already. (be fair to the Malaysian customers maaa…)

(2) Bi-annual or Annual Portfolio Round-Up

As a user, there will be times where I wonder if there is any progress or changes made on my portfolio. 

As a suggestion to help improve the overall user experience, it would be great if StashAway could do a bi-annual or annual portfolio round-up so I have an idea of what was going on with my portfolios. (refer: Spotify 2019 Year in Review).




No Money Lah’s Verdict – A Comfortable Recommendation for Passive Investing


One of the biggest conveniences that technologies have brought to us is the innovation in financial solutions & services, and robo-advisors are definitely one of them.


Given StashAway’s smart fund management, a diverse range of asset classes, competitive fees, and solid customer service, it is a no brainer for people that are looking to start investing and/or diversify their investment portfolio – while not burning a hole in their passive investments paying expensive yearly fees.


Personally, I am a happy customer, that’s for sure.


If you find this review on StashAway useful, my suggestion is to get on board right now: The best time to invest is 20 years ago, the second best time is NOW.





p.s. Reviews on Wahed and MyTheo are coming real soon! (But if you wanna try them out first, be sure to use my promo code and link to get the best deal out of your robo-advisor experience!)


Wahed: Use my Promo Code – YIXCHI1 – and get $10 bonus when you fund your Wahed account!


MyTheo: Enjoy free 3 months management fee when you use my link HERE!




Disclaimers:


  1. Past return is not indicative of future performance. (just like your mom may not be angry at you today doesn’t mean she will not get angry with you tomorrow)
  2. This post may contain affiliate links that afford No Money Lah a small amount of commission should you sign up through the links.