Swell Review: Where Personal and Social Responsibility Become ONE (2020)


As social responsibility and global sustainability concerns take center stage, major industry players have stepped up their efforts and made major reforms to reduce the negative impact of their operations.

As an investor, it is important to find a company whose goals and objectives align with your own. This Swell review is for all of you who have wanted to invest but felt held back by the company’s blatant disregard for the “greater good”.

You wouldn’t want to invest your money in a company that doesn’t care about the environment, so how do you find the right stocks?

This is where Swell steps in – a socially-responsible, investment advising platform that helps you invest in companies that care about the causes that mean most to you.

The idea is that today’s challenges will become tomorrow’s largest industries.

Swell offers investors sustainable and financially secure opportunities to invest in green companies.

Swell Logo

How does Swell help?

Swell is a socially-responsible, investment advising firm that helps you invest in greener companies. Users are given the option of investing in socially responsible companies that fall under the umbrella of:

  • Clean Water
  • Green Technology
  • Renewable Energy
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Zero Wastage
  • Eradication of Diseases

Swell’s robo-advisor helps you invest in the cause you want by offering stock options that pertain to your interests.

What is Swell?

Swell was founded in 2015 by Dave Fanger and is backed by a 150-year-old insurance company, Pacific Life.

It was founded with the idea of providing better investment options for people who want their money to be invested in a noble cause.

Swell has an Impact 400 list that identifies and compiles a list of the socially responsible company stocks available for you to invest in. These stocks are divided into six categories; with 30-50 companies listed under each. You can choose to invest your funds in a combination of stocks, or limit yourself to one cause.

Start using Swell

Swell does not hold your stocks for you. The program’s robo-advisor helps you identify and select the right stock according to your needs. In order to start investing, you will need to open a brokerage account with Folio Investments.

In essence, you and Swell handle and manage your investments while you invest the money and choose the portfolio.

When you sign-up for your Swell account, you will be required to answer a few questions. These will include questions related to your risk tolerance, your desired timeline, and your current assets. Your answers are developed into a profile that is used to determine whether Swell is the right option for you.

Fees and Accounts

The minimum investment is as low as $50 and there is no upper limit. Swell charges a constant 0.75% annually, while the market average for a robo-advisor average around 0.25%.

Swell’s relatively more expensive fees are justified.  Swell provides a niche service, compiling a portfolio of socially responsible companies. The robo-advisor charges no additional fees or commissions, so it works out.

Swell doesn’t support many accounts so accessibility is a bit limited. It only supports the following accounts:

  • Traditional IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Taxable

It also provides the option for the rollover of your 401(k) account into an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) but doesn’t provide exclusive 401(k) account management.


Swell is strictly stock-oriented. There are no mutual funds or ETF’s. This means that when you invest, you’re a shareholder with voting rights in the companies you have chosen to purchase stock in.

User portfolios are primarily managed by robo-advisors, but every now and then, Swell’s ‘rules-based’ investment strategy entails that their company experts also periodically review and analyze the listed stocks.

This quarterly rebalancing is Swell’s way of “cleaning up”. The company experts review, and remove, any stocks that no longer align with Swell’s company values. You can rest easy knowing that the stocks you have invested in will continue to help be socially responsible and adhere to your cause.

​Additional Features

  • Automatic Dividend Reinvestment: Swell’s algorithm automatically adds all the dividends from your stocks directly into your account. Provided that the amount is over $1, your funds are then reinvested into the stocks you currently have.
  • Tax Lot Ordering: Swell doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting services, unlike most other robo-advisors available in the market. Instead, Swell uses an intelligent, tax lot ordering system that helps make investing extremely tax-efficient for their users. The system identifies and advises users to sell the stocks that were bought at higher prices and keep the ones that were bought at lower prices.
  • Account Protection: SIPC and FINRA insurance protect up to $500,000 in your account.
  • Blog: Swell maintains a comprehensive blog that frequently posts informative articles detailing new investment options, tips, as well as interviews with major industry stakeholders, etc.

Signing up for Swell

Swell homepage

To sign up for Swell, you must be over the age of 18 and a US citizen.  If you fulfill these requirements, the rest of the sign-up process is fairly simple:

  1. Go to Swell’s website and click on the Get Started/Sign Up button;
  2. Enter your details and create an account;
  3. Swell will then ask you a series of evaluation questions to help determine if the service will be beneficial to you;
  4. You will be asked to connect your current and/or savings account;
  5. If approved, you will be provided with a comprehensive list of companies, divided under six categories.

Now you’re ready to start building your environmentally conscious portfolio!

Swell sign up

Who is Swell for?

Swell is for individuals looking to invest in socially responsible companies.

Some skeptics shy from such investments, assuming wrongly that companies focused on environmentally responsible operations give lower ROIs.  The fact is, the organizations that are building their competencies with the ecosystem in mind, are more appealing to stakeholders. These companies are gearing up to be tomorrow’s biggest industry players.

Swell is also ideal for people who don’t have the time to manage their unique stock portfolios. Their service is a great tool for those who need their stocks managed but still wish to retain control.

Is Swell legit?

It couldn’t be more legit! It has been recognized and positively mentioned in big publications like Forbes.

A quick online search for Swell reviews turns up mostly positive hits, with customers rating Swell a whopping 5 stars.

Swell Review

The positive reviews are a clear indication of the success of Swell and its satisfied customers.

Swell, and its robo-advisor, cater to a specific audience and effectively fulfill the unique requirements of its customers.

Swell Review

The only complaint have is regarding the 0.75% annual fee. However, it’s quite obvious that these users don’t really understand the value of Swell and its niche offerings.

These users also ignore the fact that Swell, unlike other robo-advisory services, doesn’t charge any additional fees or commission.

Frankly, that justifies the fee in the long run.

Their FAQ section is well- designed and comprehensive, providing clear answers to all the queries a user may have. Swell also allows users to put in requests for unique queries.

Swell FAQ’s

Their FAQ section is well- designed and comprehensive, providing clear answers to all the queries a user may have. Swell also allows users to put in requests for unique queries.

Swell FAQ's

Advantages of Swell

  • Impact Investing: Swell is one of the few robo-advisors that identifies and manages socially responsible stocks and portfolios. Swell makes sure that your investments are for socially, environmentally and fiscally beneficial.
  • All-Inclusive Fee: While Swell’s annual fee of 0.75% is higher than other robo-advisors, no additional fees or commissions are charged on transactions.
  • Low Investment Requirement: Swell has one of the lowest investment requirements at just $50. This gives newcomers and small investors a chance to buy stocks.
  • Customizable Portfolio: Your portfolio is made entirely of stocks, making it easy to swap and customize your portfolio.

Disadvantages of Swell

Our review of Swell wouldn’t be complete without pointing out a few of its downsides.

  • Limited Human Interaction: Some people prefer human interaction in financial matters. They prefer that their investment advice comes from a physical expert, rather than a robo-advisor. The only human interference from Swell is the involvement of their team during the quarterly readjustments of the stocks.
  • Stock Volatility: Most companies in Swell’s portfolio are young and/or dabble with unique concepts like artificial meat. This makes the stock and your investment extremely volatile. While Swell’s rigorous vetting process makes sure that all the companies are financially sound, there is still a certain degree of risk attached to such companies.
  • All-In Pricing: While all-in pricing might be beneficial for people who are active with their transactions, it may be disadvantageous and costly to users who don’t trade as much and rely primarily on dividends and long-term capital gains.
  • Lack of Portfolio Management Tools: Experienced investors will not find a comprehensive set of portfolio management tools like they would if they choose a typical robo-advisor.
  • Limited Portfolio: Swell restricts itself to socially responsible companies hence there are only so many companies that can be invested in through this service. Their current Impact 400 theme lists 400 companies divided into six categories.

Wrapping up our Swell review

Most people are not interested in impact investing because it tends to have a lower return on investment. But if you are someone who believes in social responsibility and wants to invest in a worthy cause, Swell is definitely worth your time.

It’s easy to use and understand and manages your investments for you. All you need to do is choose the companies/causes you wish to invest in.

Swell charges a higher annual fee than other robo-advisory services, but it also does not charge additional fees or commission, making it more about how you handle your investments.

You need to ask yourself whether socially responsible investing is important for you or not. Then ask yourself whether you want to invest short-term or long-term. Weigh in your options and make a decision.

If you decide that impact investing is the way for you, go to the Swell website and get started!

Do you agree with this Swell Review? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

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