The Custodians We Use (Betterment)
Modern Money Advisor (MMA) does not maintain custody of your assets on which we advise, although we may be deemed to have custody of your assets if you give us authority to withdraw advisory fees from your account (see Item 15—Custody, below). Your assets must be maintained in an account at a “qualified custodian,” generally a broker-dealer or bank. We recommend that our clients use MTG, LLC dba Betterment Securities (“Betterment Securities”), a registered broker- dealer and member of the SIPC, as the qualified custodian. We are independently owned and operated and are not affiliated with Betterment Securities. Betterment Securities will hold your assets in a brokerage account and buy and sell securities when we and/or you instruct them to. While we recommend that you use Betterment Securities as custodian/broker, you will decide whether to do so and will open your account with Betterment Securities by entering into an account agreement directly with them. We do not open the account for you, although we may assist you in doing so. If you do not wish to place your assets with Betterment Securities, then we cannot manage your account on Betterment for Advisors (defined below).
YOUR BROKERAGE AND CUSTODY COSTS
For our clients’ accounts that Betterment Securities maintains, Betterment Securities does not charge you separately for custody/brokerage services, but is compensated as part of the Betterment for Advisors (defined below) platform fee, which is charged for a suite of platform services, including custody, brokerage, and sub-advisory services provided by Betterment and access to the Betterment for Advisors platform. The platform fee is an asset-based fee charged as a percentage of assets in your Betterment account. Clients utilizing the Betterment for Advisors platform may pay a higher aggregate fee than if the investment management, brokerage and other platform services are purchased separately. Nonetheless, for those Clients participating in the Betterment for Advisors platform, we have determined that having Betterment Securities execute trades is consistent with our duty to seek “best execution” of your trades. Best execution means the most favorable terms for a transaction based on all relevant factors.
SERVICES AVAILABLE TO US VIA BETTERMENT FOR ADVISORS
Betterment Securities serves as broker-dealer to Betterment for Advisors, an investment and advice platform serving independent investment advisory firms like us (“Betterment for Advisors”). Betterment for Advisors also makes available various support services which may not be available to Betterment’s retail customers. Some of those services help us manage or administer our clients’ accounts, while others help us manage and grow our business. Betterment for Advisors’ support services are generally available on an unsolicited basis (we don’t have to request them) and at no charge to us. Following is a more detailed description of Betterment for Advisors’ support services:
SERVICES THAT BENEFIT YOU. Betterment for Advisors includes access to a globally diversified, low-cost portfolio of ETFs, execution of securities transactions, and custody of client assets through Betterment Securities. In addition, a series of model portfolios created by third-party providers are also available on the platform. Betterment Securities’ services described in this paragraph generally benefit you and your account.
SERVICES THAT MAY NOT DIRECTLY BENEFIT YOU. Betterment for Advisors also makes available to us other products and services that benefit us, but may not directly benefit you or your account. These products and services assist us in managing and administering our clients’ accounts, such as software and technology that may:
Assist with back-office functions, recordkeeping, and client reporting of our clients’ accounts.
Provide access to client account data (such as duplicate trade confirmations and account statements).
Provide pricing and other market data.
SERVICES THAT GENERALLY BENEFIT ONLY US. By using Betterment for Advisors, we may be offered other services intended to help us manage and further develop our business enterprise. These services include:
Consulting (including through webinars) on technology and business needs.
Access to publications and conferences on practice management and business succession.
OUR INTEREST IN BETTERMENT SECURITIES’ SERVICES
The availability of these services from Betterment for Advisors benefits us because we do not have to produce or purchase them. In addition, we do not have to pay for Betterment Securities’ services. We may have an incentive to recommend that you maintain your account with Betterment Securities, based on our interest in receiving Betterment for Advisors and Betterment Securities’ services that benefit our business rather than based on your interest in receiving the best value in custody services and the most favorable execution of your transactions. This is a potential conflict of interest. We believe, however, that our selection of Betterment Securities as custodian and broker is in the best interests of our clients. Our selection is primarily supported by the scope, quality, and price of Betterment Securities’ services and not Betterment for Advisors and Betterment Securities’ services that benefit only us or that may not directly benefit you.
BETTERMENT FOR ADVISORS’ TRADING POLICY
When using the Betterment for Advisors platform, we and you are subject to the trading policies and procedures established by Betterment. These policies and procedures limit our ability to control, among other things, the timing of the execution of certain trades (including in response to withdrawals, deposits, or asset allocation changes) within your account. You should not expect that trading on Betterment is instant, and, accordingly, you should be aware that Betterment does not permit you or us to control the specific time during a day that securities are bought or sold in your account (i.e., to “time the market”). Betterment describes its trading policies in Betterment LLC’s Form ADV Part 2A. As detailed in that document, Betterment generally trades on the same business day as it receives instructions from you or us. However, transactions will be subject to processing delays in certain circumstances. In particular, orders initiated on non-business days and after markets close generally will not transact until the next business day. Betterment also maintains a general approach of not placing securities orders during approximately the first thirty minutes after the opening of any market session. Betterment also generally stops placing orders arising from allocation changes in existing portfoliosapproximately thirty minutes before the close of any market session. Betterment continues placing orders associated with deposit and withdrawal requests until market close. Betterment maintains a general approach of not placing orders around the time of scheduled Federal Reserve interest rate announcements. Furthermore, Betterment may delay or manage trading in response to market instability. For further information, please consult Betterment LLC’s Form ADV Part 2A.