frugal

My thoughts on Roboadvisors (Part 2 – Endowus)

Endowus

Management

Over at the Endowus team, they are also backed by formidable people with great experience. Their CIO is the former CEO and CIO of Morgan Stanley Investment Management Asia. Their COO was Grab’s technology and payment lead. There are many other capable leaders there as well that I will not mention.

However, their Personal Finance Lead, Sheng Shi, has really brought the company and the people together. He has become sort of the glue between the firm and the investment community. Being an avid member of the Seedly community as well as watching the Endowus webinars made me realise that Sheng Shi does a really great job being relatable to us. I think that is one particular factor that sets Endowus apart from other roboadvisors. The content they put up is good and they collaborate with notable people in the community like SGBudgetBabe and TheWokeSalaryman, which makes the content that much more palatable and relatable to watch.

Products

From what I see, Endowus has two major products. Their main portfolios as well as Cash Smart (another cash management platform).

However, I realise that they tend to be “safer” when investing CPF money as compared to SRS or your own cash money.

After simulating and trying out myself, I realised the following differences when investing your money in CPF and using cash.

Note: Your portfolio may vary greatly from this because of the questionnaire and their system’s customisation
CPF (Very Aggressive – 100% Stocks)Cash (Very Aggressive – 100% Stocks)
10 year annualised return – 9.54%10 year annualised return – 9.07%
All time annualised return – 7.69%All time annualised return – 7.61%
Infinity US 500 Stock Idx Fd – 40%S&P 500 Index FundDimensional Global Core Equity – 38%Generally overweight in shares of smaller sized companies, value companies and profitable companies, around the developed world.
Infinity Global Stock Index – 30%MSCI World Index FundInfinity US 500 Stock Idx Fd – 37%S&P 500 Index Fund
First State Dividend Advantage – 15%Dividend growth companies in the Asia Pacific Region (excluding Japan)Dimensional EmMrkts Large Cap Core Eq – 13%Emerging market large cap equities
Schroder Global Emerging Market Opps Fd – 15%Capital growth in the emerging marketsDimensional Pac Basin Sm Comp – 12%2,000 small-cap firms in the Pacific Basin
We can see that the CPF account focuses on the tried-and-true S&P 500 as well as tracking the global index fund. In addition, it invests in dividend growth companies, which tend to be more “stable” blue-chip companies. Lastly, only 15% of the portfolio is allocated to emerging markets in order to spur capital growth.We can see that there is a general overweight in small-cap firms because there is more potential for capital growth, which is the purpose of the “very aggressive” portfolio.

Personally, I believe that Endowus has managed to do a good job in convincing MAS in allowing us to invest our CPF money. They are the only roboadvisor to do so, and I think their focus on statistical and empirical data has significantly helped their case.

Endowus Cash Smart

The other product would be Endowus Cash Smart, a way to park your cash for higher returns, which is similar to Stashaway Simple. For this product, they also have 2 versions, Core and Enhanced.

Core is the safer of the two, combining a cash fund that invests in institutional fixed deposits and a money market fund. It projects a return of 1.1% to 1.3%, after deducting fees.

Enhanced invests in a money market fund and a short duration fund, which projects a rate of return of 1.9% to 2.2%, after deducting fees.

Personally, I believe that the Core Portfolio can be quite confusing for people who want to make use of the money market fund. For people who want to park their cash in the money market fund, they probably are aware of its relative illiquidity (as compared to bank’s instant transfer). The low returns also mean that it might just be better for people to park their cash in bank accounts. I personally believe that people should only park their money into the enhanced fund as the returns are reasonable, and are projected to beat Stashaway’s 1.9%.

Fees

Endowus keeps their fees very transparent as well. 

For CPF and SRS investing, they offer fees of 0.4%. For cash, there are different tiers.

FeesCash amount
0.60%$0 to $200,000
0.50%$200,001 to $1,000,000
0.35%$1,000,001 to $5,000,000
0.25%>$5,000,001

Realistically, most people who invest in cash would have to pay fees of either 0.60% or 0.50%. If you invest up to $100,000, Endowus is proven to be cheaper than Stashaway.

For CPF investing, the low fees of 0.40% is enticing and should be a huge consideration for most people as it can potentially beat the 2.5% of your CPF Ordinary Account rates.

User Interface

Endowus does not offer a mobile application unlike Stashaway and Syfe. Although this may be a drawback, I do see this as an advantage as well.

Firstly, they nail their desktop website very well. It is well optimised, has a good user interface and most importantly, it is easy to use.

Secondly, Endowus aims to be a long-term “buy-and-hold” strategy for investors. Having an app can make you constantly check your phone and look at your investment numbers. This can make you feel more anxious if your portfolio dips into the red.

Generally, their website is very user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Thoughts

I believe Endowus is a one-of-a-kind roboadvisor because it gives you an avenue to invest your CPF money. CPF is notoriously illiquid and you cannot do much to it because its purpose is to ensure that you will have a sizable retirement fund. However, through Endowus, it gives you the ability to beat the current rates of 2.5% and attain approximately 7% annualised returns.

Outside of that, investors should take note that they invest in unit trusts, which are often frowned upon by DIY passive index investors mainly due to its high fees. However, Endowus brings that feature to us and lowers the fees for us and conveniently constructs a portfolio for us.

For the most part, I see Endowus as an attractive way to park our CPF money as well as park some of our cash into their cash management services like Cash Smart Enhanced.

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