Overview: LearnVest Reviews | Is LearnVest Worth It? Is It Safe?
In this LearnVest review, we will explain the LearnVest app, cover some of the existing LearnVest financial plan reviews, and look at LearnVest competitors.
All of this will help you determine two things: Is LearnVest safe? And, perhaps more importantly: Is LearnVest worth it? Read on to find out.
Image Source: LearnVest
As you read this LearnVest review, you may have one pressing question on your mind: “What is LearnVest?” We’ll get into that in a moment, but it’s important to provide the proper context before we do.
Regardless of your age or income, proper financial planning is a valuable and important consideration. But financial planning can be a murky and confusing world—most people don’t have the necessary understanding of the world of financial planning to navigate it smoothly.
This is not for a lack of interest; in fact, most people want to learn about financial planning. But understanding financial planning requires a fairly significant amount of time, and with the average person’s busy schedule in mind, it is not always feasible to learn. Additionally, since there are already experts in this field, many people would rather entrust their funds to an established financial planner and have one less thing to worry about.
Over the past five years, companies have recognized the consumers’ growing desire to take a greater ownership role in their financial planning. As a result, there are more avenues available to the consumers to take that ownership; one such avenue is a financial planning app called LearnVest.
What Is LearnVest?
In order to accurately answer the question, “Is LearnVest worth it?”, we first need to understand what exactly LearnVest does. What most LearnVest reviews will tell you is that the LearnVest app provides financial planning services; however, in this LearnVest review, we’ll discuss how LearnVest takes a different approach to financial planning.
Much like other financial planning services, LearnVest pairs you with a financial planner who can provide direction and guidance when preparing for your financial future. However, there are a few differences between LearnVest and the list of LearnVest competitors that set it apart that many reviews of LearnVest don’t cover, and we’ll discuss those differences in just a moment.
According to the LearnVest website, 34% of Americans report being under financial stress, 57% spend all of (or more than) what they make, and 47% couldn’t handle an unexpected expense of $400. Reviews of LearnVest show that the company was founded on the idea that the majority of people who use financial planning services already have a solid grasp on their finances, and there is a hugely overlooked group of people who want to put financial plans in place, but they are unsure how to begin. As LearnVest puts it: “Unfortunately, many existing financial planning services are kind of like doctors who only treat healthy patients. They’re geared toward those already walking in the door with financial success rather than to the rest of us who might not even know where to start.”
Image Source: BigStock
Unfortunately, this lack of access to high-quality financial planning is not accidental. In the late 1990s, Merrill Lynch (nominally one of LearnVest’s competitors) circulated an internal memo that discouraged what they called “charity work”—offering financial advice to individuals with less than $100,000 in assets. Because most financial advisers’ fees are calculated on a percentage basis, many would rather not focus on accounts that don’t have a high value and therefore do not provide high returns. It is with this discrepancy in mind that LearnVest started, so while many LearnVest competitors may offer many of the same services as LearnVest, the crucial difference lies in the people to whom those services are being marketed.
So what is LearnVest doing to capture this market? They’re positioning themselves as easy-to-use access to financial planning services that individuals may not have known they could access until now. In this LearnVest review, we’ll take a look at some of the services the company offers and see how they’re beneficial to you, the consumer.
Unlike most LearnVest competitors who only offer access to their financial planners during normal business hours, LearnVest users have 24/7 access to their financial planner via email. If you have a tendency to worry about your finances while lying in bed, the ability to touch base with your financial planner at any time will certainly help you sleep a little more comfortably.
LearnVest Money Center
The LearnVest Money Center offers real-time tracking of your finances and allows you to see a visual representation of where you stand relative to your financial goals. While this alone isn’t dramatically different from the services offered by LearnVest competitors, LearnVest also allows the option of co-viewing the LearnVest Money Center. What that means is that the investor and the LearnVest financial planner can review the same information in real time, thereby cutting down on potential confusion.
Additionally, LearnVest operates a branch of the business called LearnVest Planning, which is staffed by Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). This allows you to receive qualified investment advice and to be sure that the advice you’re receiving is coming from an expert. While this does sound promising on its face, reviews of LearnVest cast some doubt about the value of this investment advice. We’ll cover that feedback a little later in this LearnVest review.
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Like many LearnVest competitors such as Mint or Acorns, there is also a LearnVest app for the iPhone and iPad. Because LearnVest’s business plan focuses on the idea that changing your behavior can influence your financial future, the LearnVest app acts as a reminder to the user to make smart spending decisions throughout the day. Unfortunately, the LearnVest app is only available on iOS at the moment, so Android users are not able to access the LearnVest app. However, the LearnVest website is, of course, available to anyone with an account.
Tiered Plan Access
LearnVest offers access to three different tiers of financial plans; however, it is unclear exactly what the differences are between each tier, as LearnVest simply says the plans are customizable. The assumption can be made that the LearnVest cost is dependent on the level of customization you would like for your specific plan. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the LearnVest cost; after all, what would a LearnVest review be without an analysis of LearnVest’s cost?
The company’s site lists the LearnVest cost as $299 for a one-time setup fee, plus $19/month for ongoing support. This may seem steep for the average consumer, but as the LearnVest site points out using a 2011 survey from the College of Financial Planning, the average cost of setting up a traditional financial plan is $1,900. While LearnVest competitors such as Mint have lower setup costs, those LearnVest competitors typically do not do as complete and in-depth an analysis of your specific financial situation as LearnVest does. Therefore, the LearnVest cost is very reasonable, all things considered.
With this cost, you may be wondering “What is LearnVest using this setup fee for?” It’s simple, really: when setting up your account, LearnVest utilizes their Smart Profile, which allows you to explain your financial situation using a form. That form is reviewed by a LearnVest financial planner, who then creates an overview of your financial situation and a recommendation for your financial strategy.
Once your plan has been set in motion, LearnVest will assign you “bite-sized to-dos to help you make progress on your program.” LearnVest also offers a wealth of resources you can use to further educate yourself in the world of financial planning, which will give you a greater understanding of the reasoning behind your financial planner’s recommendations.
LearnVest Financial Plan Reviews
Given that the LearnVest CFPs are obligated to adhere to SEC standards when it comes to suitability of investments, any LearnVest financial plan reviews would indicate that your investment plan through LearnVest is no riskier than your investment profile allows.
One of the LearnVest financial plan reviews on the Internet did a comparison between the company and LearnVest competitors such as Mint. Those LearnVest financial plan reviews indicated that while LearnVest has the edge in terms of educating its users, the LearnVest competitors were more intuitive in tracking individual consumers’ spending and syncing all their information in one easy-to-use location.
Additionally, these LearnVest financial plan reviews point out that while LearnVest does offer access to financial planners, they do not provide particularly detailed or comprehensive investment advice. In all, the LearnVest financial plan reviews available on the Internet all seem to indicate one thing: LearnVest is a very useful tool for budgeting, but it leaves something to be desired when it comes to providing investment tips.
As this LearnVest review and other LearnVest reviews have shown, because LearnVest has taken a rather unique approach to the process of financial planning, identifying and comparing LearnVest’s competitors is a little tricky. Given their novel use of technology (as demonstrated by the LearnVest app) to make your financial planning more mobile-friendly, it is tempting to list startups like Mint and Acorns as LearnVest competitors.
However, both Mint and Acorns do not offer one-on-one financial planning, nor do they provide direct access to financial planners. Both of these LearnVest competitors rely largely on a rather formulaic assessment of your current financial situation and years to retirement, which may mean that your specific goals go unaddressed. While the cost of using these LearnVest competitors is significantly lower than the LearnVest cost, you do get what you pay for with LearnVest.
At the other end of the spectrum are companies like Merrill Lynch, which has created a service called Merrill Edge. The idea is very similar to that of LearnVest: offering access to financial planning services to people who wouldn’t be considered high net worth individuals. However, Merrill Edge operates based on the assumption that the user already has a firm grasp on their finances and financial plans, and they do very little to further their users’ education. As you can see in this LearnVest review, one of the things that sets LearnVest apart is its willingness to educate its users.
Is LearnVest Safe?
The next consideration is simple: Is LearnVest safe? As with any financial service that is offered digitally, consumers want to know if LearnVest is safe before they entrust the company with their money and information. Fortunately, there appear to be no red flags in other LearnVest reviews that indicate your money will be at risk should you decide to use LearnVest.
The LearnVest website is TRUSTe certified, VeriSign secured, and McAfee secured. Additionally, LearnVest is a “Champion” member of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a nonprofit group focused on cyber security. So, with cyber security appearing to be well in-hand, let’s turn our attention in this LearnVest review to the last (and most important) question.
Is LearnVest Worth It?
Trying to answer the question “Is LearnVest worth it?” is nearly impossible because it ultimately depends on your individual financial situation, your financial planning goals, and what you hope to achieve by working with a financial planner. As with any investment, the most prudent course of action is always to do your homework first; the information you glean from your research will help you understand if LearnVest is worth it.
That said, this LearnVest review wouldn’t be complete without an overall assessment of the business. If you already have a strong grasp of your financial situation and want to simply put your money into some investments, LearnVest is probably not the answer for you, and you might be better off working with some of LearnVest’s competitors. But if you’re interested in securing your financial future but simply have no idea where to start, LearnVest is worth it. While the LearnVest cost may seem like a steep initial investment, the amount of education you can access as an account holder and the portability of your financial information with the LearnVest app make LearnVest a smart choice.
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