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Financial Planning

How to Sync Your Accounts

Syncing your accounts lets you see your holistic financial picture, and allows us to give you better advice. Learn how to sync your accounts and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Articles by Betterment Editors

By the Editorial Staff
Betterment Resource Center  |  Published: September 1, 2018


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Getting Started

External Portfolios

Troubleshooting


Syncing a financial account creates a secure, read-only connection with your firm through our data partner, Quovo. Most accounts are eligible for electronic syncing through Quovo, although not all are available at this time. As an alternative, you can always manually track any account.

How do I add an external account?

To sync an external account to Betterment, log in from a web browser and click “Sync new.”

How do I sync an external account so that I get holistic savings and retirement advice?

To include a non-Betterment account to your RetireGuide plan, log in to your Betterment account here. Click on the the “Sync External Account” button in the bottom right corner. You will then be able to choose your firm where your account is located and connect to your account by providing your login credentials.

What do I do with my manually linked accounts after I sync my external accounts?

You’ll want to delete any duplicate accounts that were previously linked manually. Navigate to External Accounts and select “Edit” to the right of each manual account. Simply click “Delete this account” to remove it from Betterment.

Is it safe to sync my external accounts?

Keeping your data protected and secure is our top priority. Betterment has incorporated bank-level security measures in everything that we do. This includes the strongest available browser encryption, secure servers, and identity verification services, among other precautions.

For more details, please review the Security & Privacy Promise section of our site.

When I sync a non-Betterment account, does Betterment store my username and password?

No. Betterment does not store your credentials. Our trusted partner for account aggregation protects the credentials using bank-level encryption both when transmitted and when stored.

How can I delete or hide an external account from my Betterment profile?

After you’ve synced external accounts (from other institutions) to Betterment, you may have reason to remove them. Perhaps you’d like to filter out an account from your personal net worth, or maybe you’re done using a certain account and you’d like to remove the information altogether.

You have the option to either remove the external account—and all its accounts—or simply hide a specific account from Betterment.

Deleting a Synced External Account

To delete a synced external account, select “Settings” from the menu and then “External Accounts”. Click “Delete” to the far right of the account you wish to remove.

When you delete an external account, that move cannot be undone, but you can always sync the account(s) again.

If the external account was also linked as your bank account for funding purposes, deleting the external account will sever the electronic link and create a manual link to your bank account instead. This means you won’t be able to use certain features that depend on the electronic link, like cash analysis or Two-Way Sweep.

Hiding an External Account

You can hide a specific account to prevent it from showing up on your Betterment overview or being included in your total net worth. Hiding an account can be done from “External Accounts” by clicking “Edit” next to the specific account you wish to hide.

How do I delete a synced external firm and its accounts?

To delete a synced firm:

  1. Log in to your Betterment account
  2. Select your name at the top right and click “Settings”
  3. Select the tab called “External accounts”
  4. Choose the firm you would like to delete
  5. Select “Delete firm” on the bottom right

Deleting cannot be undone. If you’d like to see the account again, please sync it.

Instead of deleting a firm entirely to remove a specific account, you can simply hide the specific account from view.

What are the assumptions for external portfolio analysis?

These assumptions apply to the analysis of external portfolios only.

Our projections for external portfolio analysis purposes are based on an assumed 7% annual return on all non-cash investments over a 30-year period. We assume a 0% return on cash or cash equivalents like Money Market funds.

Your external portfolio projection of non-cash investments is net of fund-level fees (provided by Xignite per fund) and advisory fees (or plan management expenses, if applicable) at the account level. You can add or update advisory fees or plan management expenses within Settings. For employer plans, such as 401(k)s, the plan management expense defaults to 0.6%, which includes record-keeping and other plan-level management expenses.  Other account types default to 0.0% advisory fees, so you should add these if you pay them for the most accurate advice.

Betterment portfolio projection comparisons are based on the Digital Plan fee of 0.25% and fund-level fees of 0.12%. Your actual performance, which depends on your allocation, your own Betterment fee tier, Betterment ETF expenses, and investment horizon, will likely be different.

Our analysis assumes that your advisory fees and fund fees will remain constant through time.  This analysis is limited to the impact of your fees and idle cash and does not incorporate other aspects of your investment choices, including your asset allocation or tax efficiency.

Analysis of external accounts is provided outside the scope of Betterment LLC’s role as a fiduciary to your 401(k) plan.

What should I know about my externally synced portfolio allocation?

For each externally synced portfolio, the “Holdings” pie chart displays how much exposure each portfolio has in each of the 5 major asset classes (US Stocks, US Bonds, International Stocks, International Bonds, Cash) as well as “Other”. For diversified mutual funds or ETFs that may contain multiple asset classes (e.g. a target date fund), the allocation looks “through” the fund, meaning it splits up the fund by the relevant asset classes to give a more precise visualization of the actual holdings.

For example, a target date fund like VFFVX, the Vanguard Target Retirement 2055 Fund, has allocations to stocks, bonds, and cash, even though it is most heavily weighted towards US stocks. Unlike some other allocation tools, we display VFFVX’s allocation to each of the given asset classes rather than assigning 100% of VFFVX’s allocation to one single asset class like US stocks or a fund type like “Target date fund”.

Knowing your portfolio’s true allocation can help you better understand the risks you are taking and make decisions about the allocations in other accounts.

Is this allocation data real time?

Your balance in each account and fund is updated daily.  However, the underlying allocation data is only published by mutual funds on a quarterly basis, so your current portfolio allocation is only an approximation of the current actual allocation.

Is current portfolio allocation used to determine the fee level of a fund?

Our fee assessment of a fund uses the overall fund type (E.g. US Total Market Stock Funds, International Bond Funds or Commodity Funds) and not the asset classes within the fund.  While the overall fund type is related to the underlying allocation, the actual fund expense ratios are set per fund and not per asset class within the fund.

How do you determine whether my external accounts have high, medium, or low fees?

Understanding and managing the fees in your external accounts is very important because they directly and significantly impact your long-term overall wealth. Here’s why.

Our fee calculation covers two kinds of fees – the expense ratio of funds, and the advisory fee that might be paid to manage those funds. We determine the expense ratio for mutual funds and ETFs based on the ticker you hold and our external data source of fund expenses. The advisory fee can be optionally entered by clicking “Settings” from the menu and then “External Accounts”.  There you’ll see an option to “Edit” each synced account. You may also pay one-time load fees on mutual funds (at purchase or sale), or commissions on trades, but our calculation doesn’t consider these since these were typically already paid.

Advisory fees are considered high if greater than 0.5% for most accounts. Employer plans like 401(k)s may have additional fees due to record-keeping and plan administration costs, so for employer plans, advisory fees are considered high if greater than 0.6%.

Funds are considered high fee if their expense ratio is greater than a threshold that is based on asset class. To calculate the high fee threshold, we looked at every exchange-traded fund (ETF) currently available in the U.S. and classified each into 8 different asset types. We then established a high fee threshold for each asset type by dividing all the ETFs into four quartiles and taking the average expense ratio for all funds in the lowest quartile of funds. The default threshold for funds that do not fall into 1 of the 8 asset types is 0.35%. For example, the Vanguard Target Retirement 2055 Fund, VFFVX, spans several asset classes consisting of US stocks and bonds as well as international stocks and bonds. The fund, therefore, gets the default threshold of 0.35%.

High fee thresholds:

  • US Bonds: 0.15%
  • US Stocks: 0.25%
  • US Munis: 0.25%
  • Real Estate: 0.35%
  • International Developed Stocks: 0.35%
  • International Developed Bonds: 0.35%
  • Emerging Market Stocks:0.50%
  • Emerging Market Bonds: 0.50%

If fund fees, as a percentage of the account balance, are less than or equal to 0.25%, fees are considered low. If fees are between 0.25 and 0.5% they are considered moderate.  Above 0.5% is considered high.

If either your advisory fees or fund fees are high, your “Total Fees per Year” will be shown as “high” on your External Account page.

Why am I not seeing all of the accounts in my login?

You may need to log into multiple portals in order to make sure all of your accounts are visible, even though you use only one login to view all accounts outside of Betterment. Try typing in your firm name in the search field to review all of the potential accounts that come up. You should connect all relevant accounts, especially if you have multiple account types (e.g. a mortgage loan and a 401(k) may require you to log in through multiple portals).

Why am I having trouble logging into my external accounts at Betterment?

When syncing an external account you may receive an error. If this occurs, here are a few things to try:

  1. If you are using a password manager, try disabling it before logging in.  Password managers or even your browser’s autofill can sometimes add extraneous spaces to the beginning or end of your username or password or auto-filling incorrect passwords. Please manually type in these fields.
  2. Make sure the URL matches. Search by the firm name in the search field and then compare the URL to the URL you use to log directly into your external account. There can be multiple possible matches when you are attempting to sync a portal. Alternatively, you can also search for the exact URL where you normally log in to view your accounts.
  3. Verify you can log in directly on the external institution’s website with those credentials. You may be password locked in your external account, so you may be blocked from logging in until this issue is resolved.

Why is the balance not updating on my accounts on a regular basis? Can I manually update the accounts?

Your synced external accounts generally update every business day. If you don’t see regular updates, you may need to navigate to “External accounts” and review your next steps to fix the issue.

You can select “Refresh” to force a manual refresh on your external account.

Why is my password not working with my Capital One 360 account?

When syncing a Capital One 360 external account, please use an access code instead of your password to initiate the sync. To retrieve, or create this code, please log in to your Capital One 360 account. Once there, from the menu select “My Info” and then click on “Access Code”. This provides read-only access for Betterment to login to your account.

This pertains to syncing your account for inclusion in your net worth only. If you are using your Capital One 360 bank account to find your Betterment account, please use your password as usual.

I’m having trouble syncing an external account—what should I do?

While most customers find the external account sync process frictionless, there are instances where additional troubleshooting is required. In most cases, the sync can be fixed by you, without additional support needed from our side. For this reason, we suggest taking the following actions first:

  1. Open a second browser window and test your external account username and password credentials by logging into your current now. If the login is successful, proceed.
  2. Take note of the URL you see when you are on your firm’s login page.
  3. Switch back to your Betterment account and from “Home“, select the “Sync external account” button.
  4. Begin typing the name of your current firm into the search bar. (Even if you see your firm listed in one of the pre-populated circles.) You will see a list of possible firms populate in a drop-down window.
  5. Review the listed options and select the specific firm option that has a URL that most closely matches the one you see when you go to your current firm’s login page.
    • Tip: if you didn’t follow steps 1 and 2, actually go to your firm’s login page now to confirm.
  6. Follow the in-app prompts to finalize the sync.

Note: It can take up to 24 hours for some firms data to fully pull through, so if the sync is not immediately successful, it’s worth it to wait to contact us.

If after 24 hours the sync is still not successful, please send an email to support@betterment.comwith completed answers to the following questions. We must have complete answers to the 3 questions below to proceed.

  1. What is the login URL you usually use to access your current  account information?
    • This helps ensure we are targeting the correct brokerage.

2) What types of account(s) are you looking to sync?

    • For example:  401(k) or other employer-sponsored account, IRA (Roth or traditional), standard taxable brokerage account, or banking (checking/savings/mortgage).

3) Upon login, do you usually answer security question or need to send a PIN to your phone/email?

Still not working? Need our help?

If you cannot get the portfolio to sync or can’t find the connection you are looking for. We would be happy to help get this resolved. Please send us an email to support@betterment.com.

In this email please include the following:

  1. The exact URL you use to log into your account outside of Betterment
  2. The type of account you are attempting to sync (is it an annuity, retirement, brokerage, IRA or a different type of account?)
  3. Please do not delete your external account. While the account is synced, our team can investigate further as to what may be wrong.

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