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Syfe Singapore Review (2020) — Is This Robo Advisor Platform Suitable For You?

Syfe Singapore Review (2020) — Is This Robo Advisor Platform Suitable For You?
PHOTO: Unsplash

This article is not about whether or not using a robo advisor is a good idea. It’s for those who have already decided that they want to put their investments in the hands of one. Read on to find out why Syfe is one of the digital wealth managers you might want to consider.

What’s so good about Syfe? Well, Syfe is one of the more beginner-friendly options out there, with a straightforward interface, affordable fees and no minimum investment.

For beginners who are just testing the waters or those without much cash, Syfe is a relatively accessible option. If you are new to this form of investing, you may wish to find out more about robo advisors in Singapore, to see if this is the right investment approach for you.  

Syfe robo advisor review

One Syfe’s biggest advantages is that you don’t need a lot of money to start, which is great news for many beginner investors. Their most basic account tier has no minimum investment value, which means you can just jump in with a small sum.

Their management fees are also relatively low, at 0.65 per cent for the most basic Blue account.

Here’s a rundown of the fees and minimum investment sums for their four tiers of accounts: 

Blue Black Gold Platinum
Management fee per year 0.65 per cent 0.5 per cent 0.4 per cent Varies
Total invested/value None $20,000  $100,000  $500,000 

Now, 0.65 per cent for the basic Blue account is not the absolute cheapest in town, but it’s considered competitive compared to what other robo advisors are charging for their lowest tiers.

On the other hand, the management fees for the Black and Gold tiers are very attractive relative to what you would pay most other robo advisors when investing the same amounts.

Syfe’s portfolios

All of Syfe’s portfolios impose no minimum investment amount as well as no lock-up period, which means you can withdraw your money at any time.

Syfe offers a straightforward selection of just two basic portfolios.

(a) Syfe Global ETFs Portfolio

This is a diversified portfolio of assets, sectors and countries in ETFs such as BlackRock iShares, Invesco, State Street SPDR and Vanguard — some of the biggest and most established fund managers in the world.

Your portfolio allocation is customised based on the risk profile you have indicated in the system.

The ETFs are denominated in US dollars, so be aware that you’ll be charged currency conversion fees of 0.10 per cent when you exchange currencies, as well as fees amounting to 0.0013 per cent by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US when you sell your stocks.

(b) Syfe REIT+ Portfolio

This portfolio closely mimics the iEdge S-REIT 20 Index, which tracks blue-chip REITs with a focus on real estate in Singapore, such as Ascendas REIT, Mapletree Commercial Trust and CapitaLand Mall Trust. It is considered a safe choice but may not offer high enough returns for those who are willing to take on greater risk.

Unlike the Global portfolio, the REIT+ Portfolio is not customisable.

You can, however, choose between investing in 100per cent REITs (which only tracks the iEdge S-REIT 20 Index) or REITs with Risk Management (which also allocates a portion of your cash to Singapore Government Bonds).

By default, all dividends are automatically reinvested, but holders of a Black account and higher can choose to have their REIT+ dividends paid out on a quarterly basis.

The portfolio is automatically rebalanced twice a year in April and October, or as necessary based on market circumstances. Some people hate the auto-rebalancing, which you cannot disable, but I would say that it’s probably the keyway the platform adds value for REIT+ customers.

If you want to do your own rebalancing, you might be better off just investing in the iEdge S-REIT 20 Index on your own without using a robo advisor.

Syfe ARI and rebalancing strategy

One of Syfe’s hallmarks is its risk-based rebalancing strategy, which changes the allocations of your portfolio according to changes in risks in the market in order to limit your losses. In theory, this should mean gentler dips in your portfolio’s value when things go south.

How it works is that whenever the risk in your portfolio dips below the risk level you have indicated on your account, the system, powered by Syfe’s automated risk-managed investing (ARI) algorithm, is alerted to the fact that you are taking on more risk than you wish.

It then rebalances your portfolio in order to arrive at a risk level that you are more comfortable with according to your account parameters. For instance, it might do this by replacing risky allocations with less risky ones such as bonds.

Syfe vs Stashaway 

Syfe’s management fees are generally lower than Stashaway’s, especially at the lower tiers.

Total investment (SGD) Stashaway Syfe
First $25,000 0.8 per cent 0.65 per cent
> $25,000 to $50,000 0.7 per cent 0.5 per cent to 0.65 per cent
>$50,000 to $100,000 0.6 per cent 0.5 per cent
>$100,000 to $250,000 0.5 per cent 0.4 per cent
>$250,000 to $500,000 0.4 per cent 0.4 per cent
>$500,000 to $1,000,000 0.3 per cent >0.4 per cent

Also, Stashaway’s approach is not as straightforward. Instead of picking one portfolio or the other, you let Stashaway put together a portfolio for you based on the risk profile and goals you’ve entered.

That might or might not be a good thing, depending on how much you trust the platform’s algorithms.

Like Syfe, Stashaway’s barrier to entry is negligible, with no minimum account balance.

Syfe vs DBS digiPortfolio

You know robo advisors have gone mainstream when even DBS is trying to get a slice of the pie.

In terms of fees, DBS digiPortfolio is quite a bit pricier than Syfe.

Total investment (SGD) DBS digiPortfolio Syfe
>$10,000 0.75 per cent to 0.85 per cent 0.65 per cent
Next $40,000 0.75 per cent to 0.8 per cent 0.5 per cent to 0.65 per cent
>$100,000 0.75 per cent 0.4 per cent

digiPortfolio offers more portfolios than Syfe does, with two portfolios investing in unit trusts, another in ETFs with a focus on Singapore, India and China, and another on UK-listed ETFs with global exposure.

Their barriers to entry are also higher than Syfe’s, with minimum investment amounts of $1,000 or $10,000, depending on the portfolio.

Syfe vs Autowealth

Autowealth’s pricing structure is as follows:

Total investment (SGD) Autowealth Syfe
>$20,000 0.5 per cent + US$18 (S$25) 0.65 per cent
$20,000 to $100,000 0.5 per cent + US$18 0.5 per cent
$100,000 –  $500,000 0.5 per cent + US$18 0.4 per cent
>$500,000 0.5 per cent + US$18 <0.4 per cent

This makes Autowealth cheaper than Syfe if you’re investing $20,000 or less. Once you hit $20,000, Syfe becomes cheaper.

Autowealth offers four portfolios with different allocations of bonds and stocks according to your risk tolerance. Basically, you just pick one of four risk levels and get allocated one of the four portfolios.

This is a bit different from Syfe’s approach, which requires that you choose between Global or REIT options from the get-go. Choose which one you’re more comfortable with. 

Alas, you need at least $3,000 to start investing with AutoWealth, which may be more intimidating for beginners than Syfe.

How to sign up with Syfe

Sign up for an account through their website by clicking the “Get Started” button. You’ll have to answer a short questionnaire before you get to create your account.

Once your account has been created, you will be asked to verify your identity, which Singapore citizens, PRs and long-term pass holders can do with their SingPass.

Now, all that’s left to do is to deposit funds and start investing right away.

This article was first published in MoneySmart.

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