Portfolio Customization Tips

March 8, 2022 Jack Hanna
Learn about ways you can personalize your Schwab Intelligent Portfolios account along with key feature benefits and activation tips.

Whether your Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® account is helping you achieve your financial goals or you're still deciding on your investment strategy, here are a variety of ways you can personalize your portfolio along with key feature benefits and activation tips.

Choose an investment strategy that's right for you

Benefits and considerations

Investment strategies offer you a way to tailor your portfolio towards more global, U.S., or income-oriented investments. Note that U.S.-focused strategies are not available for those who want enroll in Schwab Intelligent Income.


Schwab Intelligent Portfolios offers you a choice among three investment strategies: Global, U.S. Focused and Income Focused. Each strategy helps provide access to a well-diversified portfolio of stocks, fixed income, commodities and cash based on your investment goal, time horizon and comfort level with risk. These factors drive individual portfolio allocations with a range of different risk profiles from aggressive portfolios with an emphasis on stocks to conservative portfolios with an emphasis on fixed income and cash.

  • Global strategies: Our primary approach to portfolio diversification is designed to offer broad and well-diversified exposure to domestic, international and emerging market economies. We believe global diversification may have expanded investment opportunities for growth because it helps reduce concentration in one geographical region.
  • U.S.-focused strategies: We also offer strategies with less exposure to international economies for investors with a preference for U.S.-domiciled investments. While we believe that the U.S. isn't the only game in town, we understand the desire for a "home bias" and the familiarity with and preference for more developed economies (e.g., the domestic-focused strategies don't have any allocation to emerging markets). 
  • Income-focused strategies: These portfolios feature investments that pay out a higher percentage of their earnings to investors in the form of interest or dividend payments. These strategies include more exposure to so-called "blue-chip" companies and also include higher yielding asset classes such as preferred stocks, bank loans and other short-term floating-rate notes. The income-focused strategies can be a suitable choice for both saving toward a goal or withdrawing money.

How to enable

  • Mobile: Log in → Tap SIP account → Scroll down to Portfolio Settings → Tap Model Preference → Tap Edit Preference
  • Web: Log in → Settings → Model Preference/Edit Preference

Add on municipal bonds for potential tax advantages

Benefits and considerations

Municipal bond variations can allow for tax advantages with federally tax-exempt interest. Municipal bonds typically pay out less interest than comparable fixed income alternatives but, depending on your tax situation, can offer attractive after-tax returns.


We offer versions of each of our investment strategies with federally tax-exempt municipal bonds for taxable accounts. Depending on where you live, bond interest may also be exempt from state income taxes. We swap out the fixed-income allocations to U.S. Treasuries, corporate bonds and agency mortgage-backed securities for investment-grade municipal bonds. For Californians, we offer a version concentrated in California-specific municipal debt.

Figure 1: Municipal bonds may yield more than corporate bonds after-taxes for investors in higher tax brackets

Chart showing effects of corporate bonds according to tax bracket. Municipal yields may be more in comparison with corporate yields if tax brackets are considered. At 12% bracket municipal yield is 1.3% vs corporate 1.7%. At 37% bracket, municipal yield is 1.3% and corporate yield 1%.

Source: Schwab Center for Financial Research with data provided by Bloomberg, as of 2/26/21

Note: Municipal bonds are represented by the Bloomberg Municipal Bond Index and Corporate bonds are represented by the Bloomberg Corporate Bond Index. Corporate bonds assume an additional 5% state income tax for all brackets and a 3.8% tax for the 32% and above bracket. The 3.8% tax is on "net investment income" that was originally enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Indexes are unmanaged, do not incur management fees, costs and expenses, and cannot be invested in directly. For additional information, please see Schwab.com/IndexDefinitions.

How to enable

  • Mobile: Log in → Tap SIP account → Scroll down to Portfolio Settings → Tap Model Preference → Tap Edit Preference
  • Web: Log in → Settings → Model Preference/Edit Preference

Update your risk profile when you need to

Benefits and considerations

We make it easy to update your risk profile when changes happen such as a substantial increase or decrease in income or your investment time horizon shifts. For example, if you have the ability to be more aggressive with the investments in your account, changing your risk profile can recommend a more aggressive portfolio that aligns more closely with your preferences.


We've designed a way to help you adjust your risk profile if significant events change your tolerance or capacity to take on risk. Simply update the answers to your Investor Profile Questionnaire so that Schwab Intelligent Portfolios can recommend a new portfolio allocation that better fits your needs.

How to utilize

  • Mobile: Log in → Tap SIP account → Scroll down to Portfolio Settings → Tap Review Investment Profile → Tap Review Profile
  • Web: Log in → Settings → Redefine Investment Profile/Review Profile

Consider tax-loss harvesting

Benefits and considerations

Tax-loss harvesting can be used to offset up to $3,000 of ordinary income and recognized capital gains annually by allowing investors to retain a similar market exposure while generating deductions for federal income tax purposes. Additional captured losses can be carried forward into future years if not used in the year they occurred. Periods of elevated market volatility highlight the potential benefit of tax-loss harvesting as the number of these trades has historically surged when markets turn turbulent.1 Tax-loss harvesting automates a complicated and time-consuming process so you don't have to do it on your own.

Taxable accounts with at least $50,000 in investable assets are eligible. If your taxable account is less than $50,000, you can still opt in for tax-loss harvesting. When your account reaches $50,000 in value, tax-loss harvesting will become active. Tax-loss harvesting will remain an active feature on your account until your account value drops below $40,000. If that happens, the balance will need to rise back above $50,000 to automatically reactivate.


Tax-loss harvesting is a service that checks your accounts daily for opportunities to sell investments where you have an unrealized loss and simultaneously reinvest the proceeds of the sale into a pre-selected alternate ETF in the same asset class. This means that the current price of the investment is lower than the original price paid for it. The goal of this feature is to maintain a portfolio that closely tracks your portfolio's asset allocation and captures tax-deductible losses while generally preventing wash sales in your account.

Figure 2: Tax-loss harvesting can potentially help reduce current liabilities

Bar chart shows two scenarios of tax-loss harvesting for $2,500 in stock. Scenario 1 shows a tax bill of $500 and scenario 2 shows a tax bill of $300. Scenario 2 shows how depreciated stock can help offset a gain.

Source: Schwab Center for Financial Research.

Assumes a 37% federal marginal income tax bracket. This example is hypothetical and provided for illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to represent any specific investment or account and does not reflect any expenses or fees.

How to enable

  • Mobile: Log in → Tap SIP account → Scroll down to Portfolio Settings → Tap Tax Loss Harvesting
  • Web: Log in → Settings → Tax Loss Harvesting

Exclude securities from your portfolio

Benefits and considerations

Customize your portfolio by removing up to three ETFs, regardless of whether we currently hold the investment or not. For example, you might wish to exclude an ETF included in the program if you potentially hold the same ETF in a different account and are concerned about potential wash sales across the accounts. We have an alternate ETF for every asset class so if you choose to restrict an ETF, there's a backup to help keep your investment mandates on track. If you exclude an ETF in an asset class, your account will hold the alternate ETF in that asset class, and tax-loss harvesting would not be possible. Note that you can exclude either the primary or the secondary ETF in an asset class, but not both.


If we are currently invested in an ETF on your exclusion list, we'll sell any current holdings in that investment and buy an alternate ETF to keep your portfolio allocations and risk target consistent. If we do not currently invest in your excluded investments, our rebalancing algorithm will make sure to never invest in them in your account, regardless of how your risk profile or strategy change. If you change your mind, you can always adjust your exclusion list.

How to enable

  • Mobile: Log in → Tap SIP account → Scroll down to Portfolio Settings → Tap Exclusion List
  • Web: Log in → Settings → Exclusion List

Consider financial planning with Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium®

Benefits and considerations

With Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium, unlimited, one-on-one guidance from a CFP® professional provides assistance to you in creating a road map for reaching your financial milestones, including saving for college, retirement or buying a house. Digital planning tools help you create "what-if" scenarios with the Play Zone® and stress-test your plan by adjusting variables like retirement age, saving rates, and lifestyle choices. Additionally, you can conduct scenario analysis to see how your financial plan could hold up against changes in variables that are out of your control. You can also see the impact of market cycles, inflation, portfolio returns, long-term care costs and other unexpected expenses. Pay a one-time planning fee of $300 and a $30 per month advisory fee after that for access to this feature. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium is available to accounts with at least $25,000 in initial investable assets.


If you need help managing multiple financial goals, you might benefit from the one-on-one professional guidance that Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium provides. You'll have access to the same features of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios with unlimited professional guidance and planning from a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. There's also access to interactive online planning tools and a personalized roadmap to help you reach your goals.

How to enable

  • Web: Log in → Explore Premium (left navigation menu)

By Jack Hanna, Senior Specialist with Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, Inc.

1 Source: Charles Schwab Investment Advisory and Morningstar Direct in Figure 1: https://www.schwab.com/learn/story/overcoming-volatility-with-tax-loss-harvesting

Please read the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions™ disclosure brochures for important information, pricing, and disclosures related to the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium programs.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium® are made available through Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. ("Schwab"), a dually registered investment advisor and broker-dealer. Portfolio management services are provided by Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, Inc. ("CSIA"). Schwab and CSIA are subsidiaries of The Charles Schwab Corporation.

There is no advisory fee or commissions charged for Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. For Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium, there is an initial planning fee of $300 upon enrollment and a $30-per-month advisory fee charged on a quarterly basis as detailed in the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions™ disclosure brochures. Investors in Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium (collectively, “Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions”) do pay direct and indirect costs. These include ETF operating expenses which are the management and other fees the underlying ETFs charge all shareholders. Schwab does not charge an advisory fee for the SIP Program in part because of the revenue Schwab Bank generates from the cash allocation (an indirect cost of the Program). The portfolios include a cash allocation to FDIC‐insured Deposit Accounts at Charles Schwab Bank, SSB ("Schwab Bank"). Schwab Bank earns income on the deposits, and earns more the larger the cash allocation. The lower the interest rate Schwab Bank pays on the cash, the lower the yield. Some cash alternatives outside of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions pay a higher yield. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions invests in Schwab ETFs. A Schwab affiliate, Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc., receives management fees on those ETFs. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions also invests in third-party ETFs. Schwab receives compensation from some of those ETFs for providing shareholder services, and also from market centers where ETF trade orders are routed for execution. Fees and expenses will lower performance, and investors should consider all program requirements and costs before investing. Expenses and their impact on performance, conflicts of interest, and compensation that Schwab and its affiliates receive are detailed in the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions disclosure brochures.

The cash allocation in Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions® will be accomplished through enrollment in the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Sweep Program (Sweep Program), a program sponsored by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. By enrolling in Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions, clients consent to having the free credit balances in their Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions brokerage accounts swept to deposit accounts at Charles Schwab Bank through the Sweep Program. Charles Schwab Bank is an FDIC-insured depository institution affiliated with Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. and Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, Inc.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium® are designed to monitor portfolios on a daily basis and will also automatically rebalance as needed to keep the portfolio consistent with the client's selected risk profile. Trading may not take place daily.

Tax-loss harvesting is available for clients with invested assets of $50,000 or more in their account. Clients must choose to activate this feature. The tax-loss harvesting feature that is available with Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions® is subject to significant limitations which are described on the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions website and mobile application (collectively, the "Website") as well as in the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Solutions® disclosure brochures (the "Brochures"), and the IRS website at www.irs.gov. You should consider whether to activate the tax-loss harvesting feature based on your particular circumstances and the potential impact tax-loss harvesting may have on your tax situation. You should read the tax-loss harvesting disclosures on the Website and in the Brochures before choosing the tax-loss harvesting feature. Neither the tax-loss harvesting strategy nor any discussion herein is intended as tax advice, and neither Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. nor its affiliates, including but not limited to Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, Inc., represents that any particular tax consequences will be obtained.

Diversification, automatic investing and rebalancing strategies do not ensure a profit and do not protect against losses.