Endowus Review – Best investment for your CPF/SRS Funds? And Promo Code!

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Note: We’re running a promotion for the FH Course during this COVID-19 period. Good time to pick it up and learn about investing if you’re stuck at home!

A lot of you have been asking for a review on Endowus, and how it compares against StashAway and MoneyOwl. We’ve been a bit slow on this one, so apologies for that. But hey, better late than never right?

Basics: What is Endowus?

Endowus is a “Roboadvisor” / Fintech / Wealth Management platform.

The underlying concept is similar to StashAway or MoneyOwl.

When you first sign up, you fill up a bunch of questions on your age, your income, your investment risk appetite, your investment objectives etc. Based on your responses to those questions, Endowus will then recommend you an investment portfolio.

Now there are 2 main types of Roboadvisors. Let’s call them the Public Robo and the Funds Robo.

Public Robo

The Public Robo includes guys like StashAway, Smartly, Autowealth, Syfe etc, which builds an investment portfolio using publicly listed ETFs.

The exact asset allocation then depends on what the CIO decides.

A lot of people think of the Public Robo as a pure “passive” investment strategy, but I don’t really agree with that. If you buy the S&P500 you’re “passive”. If you buy 10% S&P500, mix it up with a TLT, throw in some Euro exposure, you’re actually doing active asset allocation. And when you layer on proprietary (read: Black Box) tactical reallocation strategies like what StashAway and the like do, it looks a lot like active management, at a cheaper price point.

Because of that reason, I like to think of Public Robos as a pseudo-active product. You’re using passive ETFs, to execute an active strategy.

Funds Robo

The Funds Robo on the other hand, includes guys like Endowus and MoneyOwl. The big difference is that they use funds (instead of publicly listed ETFs) to build their portfolio.

The difference is that these funds have an active fund manager, that manages the portfolio according to a predetermined set of rules. So the only decision that the Robo makes, is how much to allocate to each fund. The actual investment decisions are then made by the fund manager.

In a way, you can think of them as a fund of funds.

Cash/CPF product vs SRS

Endowus is also interesting because they offer 3 different kinds of products: Cash, CPF and SRS products. It’s probably the most complete Roboadvisor solution out there, because no other Roboadvisor allows you to invest your CPF moneys.  

Asset Allocation

Endowus has a set of funds for Cash/SRS, and another for CPF (because of rules surrounding CPF). So let’s touch on each individually.

Cash / SRS Investments

The Cash / SRS funds are mostly Dimensional Equity Funds, and Pimco Bond Funds. The full list is set out below, and these are all very, very highly respected fund managers within the industry. They apply a systematic approach towards investing, instead of picking based on the manager’s “intuition”.

Long story short – The guys behind Dimensional noticed that over longer periods of time, “Value” stocks (cheap on a traditional valuations basis) tend to outperform other factors like growth or large cap. So they’ve set up their equity funds to comprise an all world stock index, but to have a tilt towards value, so that they’ll outperform in the longer term.

PIMCO on the other hand, is a highly respected bond manager, and they try to get a diversified exposure to bonds. Unlike equities, Bonds cannot be efficiently indexed, so it does require an active manager for decision making to get the best results.

Investment focus: Global equities
Expense Ratio: 0.43%

Investment focus: Global Bonds
Expense Ratio: 0.49%

Investment focus: Global Inflation-linked Bonds
Expense Ratio: 0.49%

Investment focus: Emerging Market Bonds
Expense Ratio: 0.79%

Funds in the CPF Portfolios (All Funds are on the CPF Investment Scheme (CPF-IS) included List of Unit Trusts)

The problem with investing your CPF-OA is that CPF requires the funds to be included under the CPF Investment Scheme, and not many funds are available (list here). It costs money and effort to be included as a fund manager, so the options are limited. The thinking is that by filtering the list, rather than letting Singaporeans invest their CPF in whatever they want, the chances of losing a lot of money is smaller. And this limitation is why you can’t put your CPF into any robo, fund or ETF. 

The workaround that Endowus used, was to construct portfolios that are on the CPF list.

The pro is that this now allows you to get global equity exposure with your CPF Funds, the con is that this comes at the expense of much higher fees.

What Endowus does to lower fees though (which no other advisor in the market does to my knowledge), is that they will rebate 100% of the trailer fees it receives from fund manages. 

The way it works is that when you buy a fund via FSMOne or a financial advisor, the fund then pays the advisor a trailer fee. So out of the total expense ratio of 1.0%, a small percentage then goes back to the financial advisor you bought it from. 

And what Endowus does, is that they take this trailer fee, and they give it all back to you. So that’s the big value add coming from Endowus, which again, I don’t know any other advisor out there who does the same – let me know if you guys know of one.

As a rough gauge, the Lion Global Infinity US 500 Stock Index (which is basically the S&P500) has an expense ratio of 0.68% (before trailer fee rebate and excluding Endowus fees). After trailer fee rebates the fee is 0.40%.

Note: All funds are UCITS and accumulating, so you do get a more tax efficient structure.

Investment focus: Feeder fund into Vanguard US 500 Stock Index Fund

Fund Level Fees : 0.68%

Fund Level Fees after Trailer Fees Rebates: 0.40%

Note: Apparently, this is unique to Endowus. You can’t get access to the S&P500 via CPF via any other means (for now at least).

Investment focus: Emerging market equities

Fund Level Fees : 1.68%

Fund Level Fees after Trailer Fees Rebates:1.08%

Investment focus: Global equities

Fund Level Fees : 1.75%

Fund Level Fees after Trailer Fees Rebates:1.00%

Investment focus: Asia ex-Japan equities

Fund Level Fees : 1.71%

Fund Level Fees after Trailer Fees Rebates:1.21%

Investment focus: Global bonds in SG or G10 countries

Fund Level Fees : 0.87%

Fund Level Fees after Trailer Fees Rebates:0.57%

Investment focus: SGD denominated / Forex bonds hedged to SGD

Fund Level Fees : 0.62%

Fund Level Fees after Trailer Fees Rebates: 0.46%

Investment focus: SGD Short term bonds / Bank Deposits

Fund Level Fees : 0.67%

Fund Level Fees after Trailer Fees Rebates: 0.36%

 

Pricing – Endowus vs MoneyOwl vs StashAway Fees

 

Endowus


MoneyOwl

StashAway

Cash

Tiered:

0.60% – Up to S$200,000

0.50% – S$200,001 to S$1,000,000

0.35% – S$1,000,001 to S$5,000,000

0.25% – S$5,000,001 and above

 

0.83% (0.65% p.a. advisory/wrap fee;

0.18% p.a. custody/ platform fee;)

Stacked (not tiered):

0.8% – Up to $25,000

0.7% – $25,000 to $50,000

0.6% – $50,000 to $100,000

0.5% – $100,000 to $250,000

0.4% – $250,000 to $500,000

0.3% – $500,000 to $1,000,000

0.2% – Above $1,000,000

 

SRS

0.40%

NA

Same as above

 

CPF

0.40%

NA

NA

 

Fund Expense

0.43% to 0.79% for Cash/SRS

0.62% to 1.75% for CPF (before trailer fees rebate)

0.3% to 0.4%

0.2% – 0.4%

 

Total (Assuming a S$100,000 portfolio)

Cash – 1.03% to 1.39%

SRS – 0.83% to 1.19%

CPF – 0.86% to 1.21% (after trailer fees rebate)

 

Cash – 1.13% – 1.23%

SRS – NA

CPF – NA

Cash – 0.875% to 1.075%

SRS – 0.875% to 1.075%

CPF – NA

 

 

Fee comparison of Endowus vs MoneyOwl vs StashAway is set out above, split by cash, SRS and CPF products.

Do note that these fees do not take into account the effect of withholding tax, which is in a way a “hidden” fee. StashAway uses ETFs that are subject to 30% withholding tax, while Endowus’s funds are UCITS domiciled and accumulating, which results in a far more efficient tax structure. It’s hard to quantify the impact of the withholding tax because it depends on the exact asset allocation you pick, but something to note nonetheless.

Long story short – in terms of cash products, all 3 are generally comparable, with StashAway coming in slightly lower. For SRS Endowus and StashAway are generally tied, while only Endowus has access to CPF products.

Just to compare against DIY investing, Investment Moats did up a nice comparison on fees below. His numbers assume a $20,000 portfolio, which is on the low side.

If we assume a bigger portfolio of around $100,000, we’re probably looking at a 0.4% fee for DIY (recurring is about 0.2%). So that gives you an idea of the cost savings if you decide to go the DIY route (doesn’t count the time and effort on your end though).