Aspiration is a new breed of robo-advisor. The company gives the investor control when deciding what to pay for management fees. The minimum fees is 1.72%. Aspiration is also benefiting from the backing of Silicon Valley's elite. Jeff Skoll, who headed eBay until Meg Whitman took over in 1998, invested about $1 million.
Aspiration Fund Adviser LLC was launched last November as a robo-advisor that aspires to sell high-end products to low-end customers. The Los Angeles-based brainchild of Andrei Cherny comes as a late entrant to the automation-of-retail-finance game — but with some twists. Aspiration uses a fund of funds approach. The Aspiration Flagship mutual fund will invest in so-called alternative funds that pursue hedge-fund-like strategies including arbitrage and long/short trading. See: How RIAs can best pick alternative investments: Punt. Another factor that is either brilliant or gimmicky, depending on your viewpoint, is how Aspiration sets fees by asking the investor what they want to pay. Aspiration asks its investors to donate a fee based on how their conscience guides them. Still, even if an investor chooses a zero fee, the underlying asset management fees are about 1.22% a year.