Wealthsimple Review 2019 – Fees, Pros & Cons and How it Compares

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Our Rating: 4.9 / 5

Bottom Line: After extensive research for this Wealthsimple review, we find that Wealthsimple is the leading Canadian robo advisor in Canada. The combination of straightforward pricing, low fees on small accounts, excellent value on large accounts, overall usability, and the unique perks make it our top choice.

Best For:

  • Tons of industry experience, with access to human advisors
  • Sleek, user-friendly platform
  • The ETF MERs are nearly the lowest in the industry
  • Automatic tax-loss harvesting for Black & Generation clients
  • Broad investment selection, including Halal and SRI funds

Promo: Young & Thrifty readers get $10,000 of investments with no management fees for a year.

About Wealthsimple

Wealthsimple is one of the world’s leading robo advisors, with offices in Canada, the USA, and Europe. The company was founded by CEO Michael Katchen in 2014, whose goal was to “bring smarter financial services to everybody, regardless of age or net worth.” Before starting Wealthsimple, Katchen worked at a Silicon Valley start-up and dispensed DIY investing advice to his colleagues.

With headquarters in Toronto, Wealthsimple is well-equipped to manage your money. They employ a team of world-class financial experts and the best technology talent. Their software engineers, designers, and data scientists have previously worked at esteemed companies such as Amazon, Google, and Apple. Today, Wealthsimple has 230 employees and $4 billion in assets under management for over 120,000 global clients, making them the largest robo advisor in Canada. In short: they know what they’re doing with your money and they have a legal fiduciary duty to their clients.

Rating Breakdown

  • Credibility
  • Account Minimum
  • On-Boarding Process
  • Fees
  • Re-Investment Policy
  • Additional Functionality
  • Large Accounts
  • Customer Service
4.9

Summary

It's easy to see why Wealthsimple is the most popular robo advisor in Canada. The combination of reasonable pricing, low fees on small accounts, excellent value on large accounts, overall usability, and the unique perks make it our top choice. The sign-up process is a cinch and we love that investment transfer fees are covered by them. Wealthsimple customer service is excellent, and you can access support by phone, app, or online. Moreover, Young & Thrifty readers get $10,000 of investments with no management fees for a year when opening their first account at Wealthsimple.

Wealthsimple Features

There are many excellent reasons why Wealthsimple stands out as the best robo advisor in Canada. All it takes is a scan of the exceptional features and services provided to their clients:

Minimum investment$0 (for the Basic Account)
Accounts RRSP, TFSA, RESP, RRIF, LIRA, Personal, Joint, Corporate, Smart Savings, and Joint Savings
Tax loss HarvestingYes - automatic for Black & Generation clients
Portfolio re-balancingYes
Automatic deposits Yes
Advice Type Mostly automated, with phone and email advice provided on-demand by licensed portfolio managers
Fractional sharesYes
Socially responsible investingYes
AccessOnline, app, and phone
Transfer FeesReimbursement for investment transfers $5,000+ after completing a short survey
Customer serviceExcellent
Young and Thrifty promo:Get your $10,000 of investments with no management fees for a year
  • Portfolio Review Service: Wealthsimple offers its customers a free portfolio review which encompasses evaluation of your non-Wealthsimple financial accounts.  They will analyze the fees, the tax efficiency of your account and the portfolio allocation of any third-party accounts you hold.

  • Free tax-loss harvesting: This feature only concerns investors with taxable accounts, but can be a useful tool if you are investing money outside of your RRSP or TFSA. Tax-loss harvesting lowers your taxes on investment gains by offsetting it with investment losses. Most robo advisors and financial advisors offer this service to high-value customers, but all Wealthsimple clients have the option of using tax loss harvesting and it’s done automatically for Wealthsimple Black and Generation clients.

  • Access to financial advisors: Most robo advisors are fairly hands-off when it comes to financial planning. This is one of the ways they manage to keep their fees so low. But if you’re a Wealthsimple Black client, you have access to goal-based financial planning with an experienced portfolio manager. Likewise, Wealthsimple Generation clients have access to in-depth financial planning and a team of experts that will even design a personalized financial report customized to your goals. But regardless of tier, every Wealthsimple client has unlimited access to human experts providing financial advice.

  • Investment in fractional shares: Like most robo advisors, Wealthsimple builds your portfolio out of ETFs, and chooses an asset allocation based on your risk tolerance. By investing in fractional shares, every dollar you contribute (even if it’s a small deposit) is invested immediately, so you can start earning interest right away without having to wait until you have enough cash to purchase a full share. Basically, this means that a $10 portfolio can have the same diversification as a $1 million portfolio.

  • Socially responsible investment options (SRIs): Their socially responsible investing option lets you build portfolios using SRI ETFs that include low carbon companies, clean-tech innovators, companies with a positive human rights record, and Canadian federal bonds with AAA ratings. A big bonus: Wealthsimple charges the same management fees for SRI portfolios as non-SRI portfolios.

  • Pays Your Transfer Fees: Transfer your account to Wealthsimple and they’ll cover the transfer fee. Transfers of investment accounts that are greater than $5,000 in value are eligible for transfer fee reimbursement after completing a short survey. Also, if you ever decide to transfer out your funds from Wealthsimple, they will never charge you any penalties and you’re never locked in.

  • Other Innovative Products: Unlike traditional robo advisors, Wealthsimple also has a slew of other offerings. For instance, there’s Wealthsimple Trade – a new online brokerage that allows you to buy and sell stocks and ETFs with no trading commissions. Additionally, supersavers will love Smart Savings – a high-interest savings account that has no introductory rate and offers a standard premium rate of 2% on all deposits up to a $100,000. Wealthsimple also offers Halal Investing – a new investment portfolio designed to comply with Islamic law and that’s guided by experts in both religion and finance.

  • Tools to Help You Save Money: Wealthsimple has all sorts of technological tricks to help you maximize your savings and investments. For example, you can use “Overflow” – a feature that lets you siphon money from your chequing account into your Wealthsimple investing or Smart Savings accounts. There’s also “Roundup” – another cash-siphoning tool that rounds up your debit and credit card purchases and uses that money to bolster your investments.

Wealthsimple Fees

When it comes to fees, this is where Wealthsimple really shines. They have straightforward pricing over three tiers:

Fees:Basic (First $99,999): 0.5%
Black (Above $100,000): 0.4%
Generation (Above $500,000): 0.4%
ETF MERs:Approximately 0.1 to 0.2% annually
For SRIs: 0.25% to 0.4%

What’s also great: Wealthsimple’s ETF MERs are nearly the lowest in the industry: ranging between 0.10% to 0.20 %, for a total cost of 0.50% to 0.70% (when you factor in MERs with account management fees – depending on the funds you choose). SRI MERs are 0.25-0.40%, so clients pay 0.65%-0.90% all-in. You’ll also find excellent savings account options and features like tax-loss harvesting and financial goal-planning.

The lower fees of 0.4% for Wealthsimple Black and Generation clients are also incredibly reasonable for the VIP services that you get. The lower fees, access to financial planning, tax efficient features, and complimentary airline lounge pass make this worthwhile. Also, the tax-loss harvesting alone could save you money if you are investing outside of a TFSA or RRSP. Plus, who doesn't love feeling like a VIP?

Pros and Cons

When deciding if Wealthsimple is right for you, consider these pros and cons:

ProsCons
Tons of industry experience, with access to human advisorsLimited portfolio options
ETF MERs: 0.1%- 0.2% (nearly lowest in the industry)
Reasonable fees (0.40% to 0.50%)
Broad investment selection, including Halal and Socially Responsible Funds
Automatic tax-loss harvesting for Wealthsimple Black & Generation clients

Different Program Tiers

As mentioned, Wealthsimple has three pricing tiers:

  • Basic (deposit up to $100,000) – 0.5% fee
  • Black (deposits of $100,000 to $500,000) – 0.4% fee
  • Generation ($500,000+ in deposits) – 0.4% fee with a bunch of additional perks

Wealthsimple Basic

Wealthsimple Basic is where most investors will start. If your account balance is less than $100,000, you’ll be using Wealthsimple Basic. With Wealthsimple Basic, you get access to the important features that have made Wealthsimple popular, including:

  • Management fee of 0.50%
  • The ability to set up a wide array of account types like RRSPs, TFSAs, and more
  • Socially responsible investing options
  • Halal investing options
  • High-interest savings accounts
  • Unique tools to help you turbo-charge your savings like Roundup and Overflow
  • Three different ETF-based portfolios to suit your situation: Standard, SRI, or Halal portfolios in risk levels 1 to 10
  • Auto-rebalancing, auto deposits, dividend reinvesting, and expert financial advice

Wealthsimple Black Program

If you’re looking to invest $100,000 or more with Wealthsimple, you’ll qualify for Wealthsimple Black. The Wealthsimple Black program gives you access to premium services reserved for Wealthsimple’s high-value clients. Here’s what you’ll get when you’re a member of Wealthsimple Black:

  • Lower management fee of 0.40% (versus 0.50% for smaller accounts)
  • Tax-loss harvesting
  • Tax-efficient funds
  • A financial planning session with one of Wealthsimple’s expert advisors
  • VIP airport lounge access to over 1,000 airline lounges in 400 cities

Wealthsimple Generation

If your combined family account size is larger than $500,000, you’ll qualify for Wealthsimple Generation. This tier takes your finances to the next level, giving you access to the perks of Wealthsimple Basic & Wealthsimple Black:

  • In-depth financial planning
  • Portfolios that are tailor-made for you
  • A personalized financial report that includes income planning in retirement
  • A team of dedicated advisors
  • 50% off a comprehensive health plan from Medcan.

Wealthsimple Investing Model

Wealthsimple uses the Nobel Prize-winning Modern Portfolio Theory to design their portfolios. This theory gained fame in the 1950s when Harry Markowitz figured out that it was the best way to manage your money over the long term. The Modern Portfolio Theory has proven that a passive investing approach to the market (that is, assembling a portfolio that minimizes volatility by diversifying) is a proven and reliable way to grow your money over a long period of time.

Wealthsimple puts this theory to work by designing portfolios that use low-cost ETFs to track the market as a whole. This strategy minimizes the risk to your money by eliminating the volatility of individual stocks and taking advantage of winners by investing in a lot of stocks at once – optimizing your investment returns.

Portfolio Options

Wealthsimple has three primary portfolio options:

  • Conservative: This portfolio is heavily weighted towards low volatility bonds, with 70% of its holdings in government bonds, high-yield bonds, and short-term bonds. Designed for investors who prefer stability and a modest return.
  • Balanced: This portfolio has a 50/50 ratio between bonds and equities. Suitable for investors with low-to-medium risk tolerance.
  • Growth: This portfolio is strongly weighted towards stocks, with up to 90% of its holdings in emerging markets, foreign stocks, Canadian stocks, US stocks, dividend stocks, and real estate. Designed for an investor with medium-to-high risk tolerance.

During sign up, you’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire designed to match you with one of their three portfolios. These portfolios each have an asset allocation designed to suit your risk tolerance and time horizon and are built with ETFs. This lets Wealthsimple build a very diverse portfolio without the costs of constantly buying, selling, and re-balancing.

Asset Classes

Each of Wealthsimple portfolios includes between 8 to 10 ETFs and each ETF represents a unique asset class:

Asset ClassSymbolETFPortfolios
Canadian StocksXICiShares Core S&P/TSX Capped Composite Index ETFConservative, Balanced, Growth
US StocksVTIVanguard Total Stock Market ETFConservative, Balanced, Growth
Dividend StocksPDFPurpose Core Dividend FundConservative, Balanced
Foreign StocksIEFAiShares Core MSCI IEFA ETFConservative, Balanced, Growth
Emerging Market StocksIEMGiShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETFBalanced, Growth
Canadian Corporate BondsXSHiShares Canadian Short Term Corporate + Maple Bond Index ETFConservative, Balanced, Growth
US High Yield BondsZHYBMO High Yield US Corporate Bond Hedged ETFConservative, Balanced
Canadian Government BondsZFMBMO Mid Federal Bond Index ETFConservative, Balanced, Growth
Real Estate PHRPurpose Duration Hedged Real Estate FundConservative, Balanced
US StocksVUSVanguard US Total Market Index ETF Growth

How Does Wealthsimple Compare to Other Advisors?

If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, check out our review of the best robo advisors in Canada. But here’s the short story: taking fees and features into consideration, Wealthsimple wins out above the competition, offering clients:

  • Easy sign-up process: no visits to bank branches or endless document signing and scanning
  • No account minimums: some robo advisors require anywhere between $1,000, $5,000, or more for a minimum investment. Wealthsimple has no minimum investment requirements.
  • Easy, automatic contributions: “set it and forget it”
  • No account inactivity fees: some robo advisors will charge $25 per quarter for unfunded accounts
  • Three portfolio options: three options may not be enough to suit every financial situation, but some investors appreciate the simplicity.
  • A mobile app that's one of the best in the business.
  • Innovative features to maximize your investments that are unique to the industry, including Wealthsimple Trade, high-interest savings accounts, investing spare change (Overflow) and more.
  • Competitive fees: Considering the services offered by Wealthsimple, their fees are highly competitive when compared to other leading robo advisors in the industry.
Brand Fees Minimum Balance
Wealthsimple0.4 - 0.5%/year
+ average 0.20% MER
None
BMO Smartfolio0.4 - 0.7%/year
+ average 0.24% MER
$1,000
Questwealth Portfolios0.20 – 0.25%/year
+ average 0.19% MER
$1,000
Nest Wealth$20 - $80/month + average 0.13% MERNone
Justwealth0.4 - 0.5%/year
+ average 0.25% MER
$5,000
ModernAdvisor0.35 - 0.5%/year + average 0.25% MERNone

User Experience: A Peek Inside Wealthsimple

Wealthsimple has a sleek, user-friendly platform that provides all the details needed to make an informed decision about your investments. While some robo advisors provide reams of financial information, Wealthsimple keeps the info overload to a minimum. There are only four options to choose from on the main menu, and only two of those deliver information about their products and services. Once you click on the “get started” option, you’re funnelled through the classic robo advisor questionnaire designed to assess your needs, your time horizon and your risk tolerance. It’s that simple.

Wealthsimple claims to have the easiest and fastest sign-up process of all Canadian robo advisors, clocking in at just five minutes. We went through the sign-up process and testing the portfolio-matching process.

InvestingRight off the bat, you need to create an account with a username and password. Then you’ll need to provide standard information like your employment details, address and social insurance number. This part takes about three minutes.

wwealthsimple asset allocationOnce the basic information is covered, it’s time to go through the process of choosing your investments. Wealthsimple asks you the basic questions we expect of every robo advisor, including questions about what investments you’ve purchased in the past.

Completing the questionnaire, Wealthsimple did show us which portfolio works: their “Growth” portfolio.

wealthsimple canadaAt this point, you can choose to make your portfolio socially responsible if you didn’t select that option in the questionnaire. We love that this screen shows projected Wealthsimple performance over time, but if you click on the “our assumptions” link they clearly state that past performance does not guarantee future results – essentially the opposite of the sales pitch you’d receive in a financial advisor’s office.

Next, we wanted to see where they were planning to invest the funds before pulling the trigger to sign up. Fortunately, that information was available farther down on the screen.

wealthsimple canada asset allocation Next, opening an account: we were prompted to select which accounts we wanted to open. We had the option to open all of the standard accounts expected including savings accounts, TFSAs, and RRSPs.

This stage of the account opening process is where some robo advisors get a little dicey and confusing because sometimes linking bank accounts is an annoying process that requires submitting paperwork. With Wealthsimple, linking a bank account was surprisingly easy.

is wealthsimple safeFrom there, it’s just a matter of setting up your automatic deposits, and you’re off to the races.

Sign Up Process

From our testing, it took less than 15 minutes to open a Wealthsimple account – much faster than lengthy meetings with a financial advisor. Plus, we found that the process of linking your Wealthsimple account to an external bank account was surprisingly easy. Here’s what’s needed to sign up:

  • Your name, date of birth, and social insurance number
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number and address
  • The login information for your online banking

The process of signing up is simple:

  • Fill out an online application.
  • Verify and connect a bank account by securely authenticating your online banking.
  • You’re done! Your account should be set up in less than 5 business days.

Summary

Based on their competitive fees and excellent services, Wealthsimple is our top choice for the best robo advisor in Canada. The basic portfolios are built from cost-effective ETF portfolios that minimize costs and volatility. In terms of usability, the platform is easy to use and accessible on mobile, and more information is available if you want to dig down. Above all, Wealthsimple excels by offering competitive fees for small accounts, great value on large accounts through Wealthsimple Black and Generation, and some of the lowest ETF MERs in the industry.

The bottom line? Wealthsimple is ideal for the average Canadian investor and stands out as an extremely reputable robo advisor that you can trust. It’s definitely a winner.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to represent the current changes in 2019.

  • Credibility
  • Account Minimum
  • On-Boarding Process
  • Fees
  • Re-Investment Policy
  • Additional Functionality
  • Large Accounts
  • Customer Service
4.9

Summary

It's easy to see why Wealthsimple is the most popular robo advisor in Canada. The combination of reasonable pricing, low fees on small accounts, excellent value on large accounts, overall usability, and the unique perks make it our top choice. The sign-up process is a cinch and we love that investment transfer fees are covered by them. Wealthsimple customer service is excellent, and you can access support by phone, app, or online. Moreover, Young & Thrifty readers get $10,000 of investments with no management fees for a year when opening their first account at Wealthsimple.

Disclaimer: Young & Thrifty has entered into a referral and advertising arrangement with Wealthsimple US, LTD and receives compensation when you open an account or for certain qualifying activity which may include clicking links. You will not be charged a fee for this referral and Wealthsimple and Young and Thrifty are not related entities. It is a requirement to disclose that we earn these fees and also provide you with the latest Wealthsimple ADV brochure so you can learn more about them before opening an account.

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Jordann Brown

Jordann Brown is a millennial money expert and personal finance blogger based in Nova Scotia, Canada. Jordann is the founder of the popular personal finance blog, My Alternate Life, and she frequently appears as an expert in Canada media.

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56 Comments

  1. Ed on February 15, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you! I’ve been waiting for this article on Wealthsimple! I signed up because it was so easy. From my phone I just downloaded the app and it took me about 2 min.

    I haven’t invested anything yet and have actually been awaiting your review. I just have a question. Disclaimer- I’m brand new to investing.

    They recommended to me the growth portfolio because of my age (27) and goals etc. One thing I had heard for mutual funds is that you should consider funds with good long term track records such as 10 years. I tried to apply that advice to the ETFs in the growth portfolio but I notice that the inception date of some of these is fairly recent (e.g. 2012, 2013). This concerned me and made me hesitate a bit. Am I interpreting this advice wrong? Do you have any thoughts on the ETFs in Wealthsimples Growth Portfolio?



  2. Kyle on February 16, 2017 at 10:18 am

    You ask good questions Ed – glad you liked the review. Please don’t be afraid to detail your experience with WS so that we can all benefit from your wisdom!

    To answer your queries: If you have decided to go with a robo advisor you should Google Index Investing or read our robo advisor article again. With mutual funds the reason they tell you to look for track records (which is almost completely useless btw – track records are generally pretty poor predictors of future gains) is that they rely on trying to pick stocks or bonds (or other assets) that will do better than the market average. With the ETF portfolios that robos create (along with any other indexing approach) the idea is simply to diversify our money as much as possible, and then just take the basic market average for the next 20+ years (if you’re saving for retirement that is). An ETF that tracks the TSX 60 for example isn’t trying to do better than anything, it’s just going to automatically put your money into the 60 biggest public companies in Canada at any given time. Does that make sense? Track records and inception rates don’t matter, only that the ETFs being used are tracking broad indexes that make sense in your portfolio. I find all of the robo advisors in general do this pretty well.



  3. Ed on February 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks very much for the reply. That totally makes sense. I think I understand index investing from what I’ve read in your e-book, website, and some other sources. I understand now why that mutual fund does not really apply. That really helps alleviate some fears and I plan to get started right away. Thanks again!



  4. Susan on February 19, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Although I would like to use them, I found trying to open a joint investment account extremely difficult, non-intuitive and hugely frustrating, and finally I gave up ( and I have experience opening online accounts. ) Worst experience by a landslide for opening a joint online account I have ever had! It involved back & forth emails over a week with two different customer service reps giving conflicting advice , neither of whom could actually solve the problem ,, as the process via the website is poorly explained (nor does it work as explained ) , and admitted this was an area their tech team needed to improve. I finally gave up in frustration and am trying out a different roboadvisor. It may be a great robo if you want to open an individual account, but if you want to open a joint investment account- good luck with that! I would reconsider them if they ever got this simplest of tasks sorted out. But until then, I will go elsewhere . Unimpressed with my experience & it didn’t exactly instill confidence in them as a company when the ” opening steps “. were such a mess.



  5. james bright on February 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Interesting in finding out more. Are you a Canadian company? How much of my initial investment is safe? I understand that the government insures up to $60,000.00. Does this apply to your institution. What are the rate of returns for growth over how long of a time period. How do I research to find out if you are a legit company and credible to the public?
    Yours. James Bright



  6. Jon on February 19, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    No offering of RESP with Wealthsimple yet?



  7. Kyle on February 19, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    No RESP that I’m aware of Jon (as of February 2017).



  8. Kyle on February 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Hello James, I am not a WS representative. But I’ll do my best to answer your questions:

    1) They are a Canadian company.

    2) I’m not sure what you mean by “investment is safe”. Your money will be invested in various asset classes such as stocks and bonds. They go up and down. WS invests according to index investing principles. Perhaps reading up on “index investing” would be to your benefit. I recommend the Value of Simple or The Millionaire Teacher.

    3) In regards to your rate of return, see #2 😉

    4) You’re researching if they’re a legit company right now! If you read the whole article, WS is CIPF insured, so you’re good up to $1 million.



  9. Kyle on February 19, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience Susan – good to get firsthand accounts like this! I have never tried to open a joint account with a robo before, so unfortunately I can’t recommend anywhere. Let us know if anywhere else meets your expectations.



  10. Jenny on February 19, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I just joined in January (my new years resolution! Invest!). Signing up for the TFSA was simple, especially on the app.

    My suggestion though is to check up on each activity. My first deposit priced one of the ETFs at over $9000/share (an obvious mistake. I googled the actual share price at about $16). My second deposit was invested about 1 week after the deposit, and that was after I emailed them. So each deposit so far had issues.

    The good thing is their customer service team is pretty quick to respond and resolved each issue the following day. The bad thing is… the problems! I’ll test it out for another few months and hopefully the system will work the kinks out of my account. Meanwhile, I’m going to keep an eye on what they do with my money until they earn my trust (or I leave, whichever comes first).



  11. Kyle on February 20, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Always a good policy Jenny – appreciate the firsthand review. If you wouldn’t mind, could I bother you to come back in a few months when you’ve made your decision about WS one way or the other?



  12. Jason on March 4, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Your referral says “$20,000 for free” but the landing page says $10,000.



  13. Kyle on March 5, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Sorry Jason, I’ll change that ASAP.



  14. Kent on March 12, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    They do have RESPs. We transferred ours the other day.
    Good write-up. Very informative and detailed. I would also encourage others to use them as their investment manager.



  15. Kyle on March 15, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Thanks Kent – appreciate the update!



  16. Philippe on March 25, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    I have a number of registered and non-registered investments with Tangerine, including RRSPs, TFSAs, etc. I am quite happy with their performance and their low MER of 1.07% compared to what other financial institutions charge. What would be the advantages of switching to WealthSimple?



  17. J McTaggart on March 25, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I would like to see a verifiable historical portfolio, preferably a single deposit and all expenses shown.
    I would also like to know all relationships you may have to fund vendors



  18. Kyle on March 26, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I assume you want this question directed to WS JM?



  19. Kyle on March 26, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    There would be a few perks Philippe, but first and foremost, you’d have more possibilities for your portfolio, substantially lower MER fees (.5% or so) and access to an advice component Tangerine doesn’t provide.



  20. Jason on April 13, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    I am a WealthSimple black client and i have been with them for over 6 months now. My experience is that the company is still not established, and you should not expect service level like big banks.

    For example:
    1. my recurring deposit stop working in Jan due to a software bug when the 2017 starts.
    2. Also, when investing a large sum, WS allows you to cost average (vs investing when you deposit), but that did not work for the first 2 months.
    3. On rare occasions, the transaction posting delay can happen. Meaning, you deposit $100 on Monday, and transaction is processed, but only show up in your activity report on Thursday.
    4. Being a Black client, it only means lower MER and perk, service level stays the same. I had a missing 20K transaction, and sent them an email inquiry, and it took them 4 days to respond, and you also don’t get to jump the queue when booking up appointment. This means you are not treated differently.

    But overall, they do provide a valuable service.



  21. Sumar on April 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

    The trouble with Wealthsimple are: 1) if they messed up with your money their liability is limited to the amount of fees you paid (read the fine print, its small, unreadable for a reason). 2) Their fees are lower than mutual funds’; but is that the standard? They have already monkeyed around with their fees in the short time they have been in existence. Are they planning to jack up their fees once they are well established and hooked you? Is Wealthsimple willing to provide assurance, in writing, that the fees won’t change as long as you are their customer?
    3)Why are their fees a function of the amount of money you invest rather than their cost plus some profit. Why don’t the fees max out after a while.
    4) Their fees are in addition to the fees charged by the ETFs
    5) What is this incestuous relationship with a fund vendor – Purpose? Head of Purpose is on Wealthsimple’s board.
    6) Has anyone tried their service? At Sharowner the service has gone down the drain since Wealthsimple bought it. Is this a sign of things to come at Wealthsimple?



  22. Kyle on April 24, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Sumar – have you actually tried the service? A few things to point out:

    1) Sure, WS’s liability is limited but the 3rd party holder of the account is still on the hook. Do you have a case of WS not making it right with someone? I’ve heard only positive feedback on their customer service.

    2) I highly doubt given how competitive the robo market is that WS will be able to jack fees up very high. They are right up front (and indeed we go to great lengths to point out in our main robo article) that robo investing is not DIY through a discount brokerage. It’s the midway point between the ultimate cost-cutting option and traditional 3%+ MERs.

    3) This is a legit gripe in my opinion. Frankly it will take decades before I have an account big enough to hit an account max like that. The good thing is that you can always compare overall price options at AutoInvest.ca

    4) Once again, head over to AutoInvest.ca where we do our best to compare apples to apples.

    5) If anything isn’t this to their advantage?



  23. Kyle on April 24, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Interesting Jason – was this during peak RRSP season by chance?



  24. Jason on April 24, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    It was early January. This month (April) the cost average trade did not go through again (manual process), I sent a high priority request, and it took 3 days to resolve. The turnaround time is that bad, consider they will backdate the trade so there is no risk. But this kind of issue should not happen in the first place.



  25. Kyle on April 27, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I agree Jason – I’ll pass this along.



  26. Andrew on June 8, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Hi Kyle – great review. It sold me on WealthSimple and overall, I’ve been quite happy with my decision.

    Just wanted to let you know that your point “Wealthsimple will pay the transfer fees that your bank will charge you to switch over to them.” isn’t *entirely* true. The transfer has to be a minimum of $5,000 before they pick up the fee. I learned that the hard way when I transferred only $3,000 from a Scotia RSP over. The link to this policy is: support.wealthsimple.com/hc/en…sfer-fees- .

    Keep up the great work!
    Andrew



  27. Kyle on June 13, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Ah… I see. I was not aware of this Andrew. I’ll leave this comment up for future eyes to see! Other than that though – your experience so far has been quite good?



  28. Andrew on June 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    My experience has been quite good.
    Sure, their email response isn’t super fast, but perhaps I have lower expectations having banked at Scotia for the last ~30 years.
    What I really like is the quality of reports, how they break down the deposits/investments and demonstrate how each account did each month. The visual graphs are also quite good comparing the deposits vs actual growth. Lastly, it appears that they are auto-rebalancing the portfolio every transaction, which is pretty handy to take advantage of the dips in the market.
    Andrew



  29. Ognacho on July 19, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    The reviews I read by blogs such as your Wealthsimiple as 8 out of 10. In reading the comments it makes me gun shine about signing up. Problem with customer service. Being a Canadian firm and their fees are higher than other Robo firms (.50%/yr). I am a potential Black Program customer, which charges (.40%.yr). I am impressed with the the funds offered. Has anyone had experience with the Black Program, or contacting financial advisors.



  30. Kyle on July 20, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Why not try it with a small amount that you can get managed for free Ognacho? If you’re a black customer, there is only one or two other companies that will compete based on price over the long term. As with any product, keep in mind that people are much more likely to comment if they had a negative experience than a positive one right? Wealthsimple has had some customer service growing pains, but I think if you’re comfortable with live chats and communicating in an online setting it should go pretty smoothly.



  31. Bill Silverberg on August 1, 2017 at 9:51 am

    My wife and I are seniors
    ( over75 years of age)
    Our portfolios total 1 million plus
    Would robo advisor make sense for us?
    If so can someone call me
    To discuss
    Safety of capital is prime concern



  32. Kyle on August 6, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Hello Bill, robo advisors can work with people of any risk tolerance and investment horizon. The real question is what sort of overall advice are you wanting from the financial world (as opposed to doing it all yourself) and do you want to pay large amounts of money to use mutual funds as your main investment vehicle.



  33. MANJIT on August 9, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Its mentions that tax harvesting is automatic with Wealthsimple? How is this so? Also, how does the financial planner help you beyond just managing you money?



  34. Mstar on August 12, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Hi, has anyone had experience with transitioning from non black to black account? I presume once your investment gets up to 100k, fees automagically drop? I ask because the comments don’t inspire confidence in the simple automations that should be flawless for tech /finance company (if this size). Thanks!



  35. Kyle on August 12, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Wealthsimple Black means that your account is large enough that they will automatically take a look at it to see if they can make it more tax efficient via tax loss harvesting Manjit. Much like my response to your comment on the other article, I’ll say that WS’s advice component could be broadly generalized as being able to help with 98% of the questions most investors would have. For example, do you have questions about asset allocation or TFSA vs RRSP? They can help with that. For more nuanced/niche questions such as, “How do I set up an investment trust to pass assets on to my children” – I might go check in with a specialized lawyer instead.



  36. Jason on August 12, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Transition from non black to black account is automatic. You will get an email regarding the WS Balck benefits, and perks (Priority Pass). I suspect they review account either monthly or quarterly. Also, tax harvesting feature will be available to you. This is a feature you can turn on and off manually.



  37. Kyle on August 19, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for taking the time to clear that up for us Jason!



  38. Maasgar on October 9, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Kyle,

    As I understand, there are two ways of investing in indices: ETF and index funds. Why does WS offer only the ETF option? Based on my reading online, some experts would prefer index funds to ETF.

    Both types follow an index as the benchmark and I know that both types have pros and cons. But as a simple, novice investor, I would be inclined toward index funds. Had WS offered that option, I would have certainly approached them.

    Like a reviewer commented, WS charges 0.5% on top of ETF charges. In case of index funds, there would not be any charges other than 0.5%!



  39. Kyle on October 12, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Hello Maasgar,

    If you’re referring to index mutual funds, it wouldn’t make much sense to have a fund of index funds – because you’d have to pay their higher MERs vs ETFs. It’s the smae underlying index. You are correct in that you could get say TD’s eSeries of funds for a lower MER than what WS charges, but that’s definitely not an apples to apples comparison. You get so much more from WS than just a single index mutual fund. I’d check out our robo advisors article for a better overall look at the entire industry.



  40. Russell Schachar on October 29, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Rob Carrick lists the asset-weighted average management expensive ration for WS as .1-.2% (Globe and Mail, October 28, 2017). This blog seems to have it at .4% Which is it? Does that stated MER include ETF fees or not?



  41. Kyle on November 1, 2017 at 11:13 am

    .4% is the WS fee RS, .1-.2% is the ETF fee.



  42. Ty on November 17, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Hi, I’d just like to post my personal and specific experience to see if anyone else has run into this. I opened a small TFSA account with WS as a trial. After reviewing my September statement, I noticed that 81.07 shares of ZCS were sold on Sept 15 for $1146.18 ($14.14/share), then 86.8362 shares of the same ZCS shares were purchased back, 3 days later for $1229.60 ($14.16/share). This was about 20% of my account. My question is why would selling and re-buying the same shares in a short time period make sense, especially at a (minor) loss? It doesn’t help with re-balancing. Is there a reason for this kind of action? Has anyone else seen something like this in their account?



  43. Shippy on January 23, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Hello Ty,

    They did sell my shares of ZCS but replaced them with XSH and sent an email explaining why.(see below) Did they send you a similar email explaining the reason for the sell off?

    From WS:
    “Specifically, we replaced a BMO ETF (ZCS) — which invests in short-term corporate bonds — with an iShares ETF (XSH) that invests in similar bonds.

    So why the change? The iShares fund recently lowered its management fee to only 0.09%, which is lower than the 0.12% fee that the BMO fund charges. That makes it the lowest cost way to invest in short-term corporate bonds. And as of right now, as we send this email, it has a higher yield. In addition, it has the benefit of investing in Maple Bonds – bonds issued in Canadian dollars by US-based companies — making it slightly more diversified.

    Lower fees, more diversification. We think it’s a winning combination. “



  44. Peter on March 15, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    In the past 12 months on a “balanced portfolio”, I made 1.6% return. Is this a normal ROI? Are others getting same numbers?



  45. Val on May 3, 2018 at 11:26 am

    I would like to see a chart of return on investment myself! If it is 1.6% as last comment mentioned, that doesn’t seem better than a regular bank….
    Average return on investments for both stocks and bonds would be helpful to decide



  46. Kyle on May 6, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Val – the chart of ROI is really irrelevant if you understand the math behind the underlying assets. What it boils down to is that you either think that you (or a mutual fund manager) can outperform the index by picking stocks. There is a mountain of evidence going back 6+ decades now that, that assumption is incorrect. What you’re left with is asset allocation, diversification, and index investing. That’s what a robo does. Looking at a performance chart for the last 5 years is too short a time frame in the investing world anyway. When you say “1.6… regular bank” I’m not even sure what you’re comparing to there? A high interest savings account? That’s a wildly different asset than stocks and bonds.



  47. Peter S. on July 4, 2018 at 11:08 am

    One of the disadvantages is that you cannot pick your allocation of stocks/bonds ETFs at the beginning. They ask you few questions to assess your risk tolerance and assign you the ratio- e.g. mine is 80% stocks ETFs and 20% bonds, while I would be comfortable with 90/10 or even 100% stocks ETFs given that I have investment accounts also in other institutions.



  48. Karen on July 13, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    What about very young investors <19 with very little money. Is this a place to start or are they better off with a savings account for a few years more



  49. Kyle on July 22, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    It depends what their goal for the money is Karen. If they are saving for university or a new car (in other words, they will be needing the money relatively soon) then I would argue a high interest savings account is probably a better bet.

    If on the other hand they want to start putting away a small sum for their retirement each month, then this is the perfect place to get started.



  50. Rob on September 29, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Good day. My question is as follows: I am approximately 2 years away from retirement and have the majority of my funds invested with a mainstream bank which is paying out monthly income in dividends, but am finding the management fees are high and my monthly income is lower than what my mainstream bank advisor stated it would be ($2,000 per month). Would switching to another institution be more beneficial?



  51. Jim on November 5, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    This comment is not unique to Wealthsimple. It applies to most, if not all, robo advisors.

    For stocks and mutual funds it is easy to find the actual returns for a year, for three years, etc. However, robo advisors only show what returns would have been if they had been invested in the current ETFs in the current proportions in the past. They do not show what the actual returns were for the ETFs they were invested in. I want to see real world returns not simulated returns



  52. Lisa Jackson on November 8, 2018 at 8:32 am

    Hi Rob, discount brokerages and robo advisors can help you set up a diversified portfolio using passive investing strategies (e.g., the “couch potato” strategy) with much lower fees than you’d pay through a bank or traditional brokerage. To find out more about how robo advisers can save you money, take a look at Young and Thrifty’s Complete Guide to Canada’s Robo Advisors: youngandthrifty.ca/compl…-advisors/



  53. Steve on January 24, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    The problem I find with wealth simple is that for a young investor with a long time horizon, they would likely be better off with just the S & P 500 index, then they would just be paying the low cost of the index fund without paying the WS fee on top, which is basically an admin/re balancing fee. They would probably have better long term performance as well. For a older investor with a 60i 40e, passive ETFs typically under perform active for fixed income funds after fees so you’d be better off with a traditional mutual fund. Also, they seem to show some bias towards the funds managed by some of their board members. That being said, the user experience with WS is very good and the marketing is awesome.



  54. Sam on March 20, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Hello

    Good information.

    So, tired of 1.6% MER especially last year as the fourth quarter was so brutal that I believe the only entity making money was my bank. Considering Robo Advisor(s) so How would someone like WS be better than VCNS @ 0.25 % or ZCON @ 0.2% MER? Both are conservative 40/60 bonds stock split for the conservative investor. I believe they also auto balance quarterly or so.

    Your comments?



  55. Chuck N on June 9, 2019 at 1:30 am

    Liked the review, but looked at the portfolios and their make up – Growth and Balanced both looked to be heavily invested in Canadian funds. So whether you like Trudeau and his liberals or not, I think it is fair to say that they are tanking Canada Big Time. So while tax harvesting may be worth paying for, it looks like a losing battle as the Trudeau trust fund ministers have put Canada on a downward death spiral – is there a portfolio that doesn’t invest so heartily in Canada that also offer tax harvesting?
    Back in the day, Canadians were heavily penalized if their foreign contribution was greater than 18% – so not sure why Wealthsimple Canada is putting so much into Canadian funds now, given their relative returns, unless they are at gun point.



  56. Lisa Jackson on October 7, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Chuck,

    We’re not going to turn this into a political discussion. We will say that Canadian markets have certainly underperformed the U.S. and International markets in the past 10 years. But the 10 years previous were stellar for Canada compared to the U.S.

    This could be a tactical way for Wealthsimple to “rebalance” its portfolios and buy low on Canada as it reverts to the mean.



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