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New robo-adviser offers more than just ETFs

The battle of the bots is heating up in Canada's wealth management industry with the newest robo-adviser, Invisor Investment Management Inc., entering the marketplace.

The online portfolio manager launched Tuesday in Ontario and Manitoba offering clients the ability to open an investment account with no minimum balance required.

The appeal of robo-advisers is simple: an online client experience combined with low-cost options (usually around 0.25 per cent to 0.65 per cent.) Invisor's fees start at 0.6 per cent for the first $100,000 of assets invested, and drops to 0.30 per cent for accounts over $500,000.

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Investors also pay the underlying fees of the funds they buy, which could tack on another 0.20 per cent to 0.30 per cent overall.

Investors complete an online risk assessment questionnaire that calculates an appropriate asset allocation based on age, financial goals and risk tolerance. The majority of robo-adviser platforms offer a recommended investment portfolio that is predominately made up of exchange-traded funds.

Here is where the Invisor model breaks the mould. In addition to ETFs, the platform offers investors access to low cost F-class mutual funds. F-class funds have trailing commissions  stripped out and are designed for accounts where fee-based advisers charge an overall fee for assets under management.

"We want to make investment services affordable for all investors," says Pramod Udiaver, Invisor co-founder and CEO. "Many Canadians pay over 2.5 per cent to invest in mutual funds and unfortunately many do not realize they are paying those high fees."

The platform has 20 recommended investment portfolios and each one is a combination of both ETFs and F-class mutual funds.

Using a 'goal-based' online investment management service, clients are asked to consider a specific investment goal, rather than think about what investment product they want to buy. The client's goal will be considered when recommending a customized portfolio. Investment goals can include retirement, education savings, or a major purchase.

"Many Canadian investors are not able to access true independent advice that is free of proprietary products and that is something that we feel is extremely important to change," says Mr. Udiaver.

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Proprietary product offerings is something Mr. Udiaver knows well, after spending 13 years in investment management with TD Asset Management Inc.

"Through our experience as financial professionals with large companies, we saw that many Canadians aren't receiving great investment advice," said Mr. Udiaver.

While the platform is focusing on investment portfolios, Mr. Udiaver hopes to see it grow to include other lines of financial planning and insurance needs.

"The Internet has really changed the way consumers are doing business and over time we will start to see more platforms pushing to create a single place for consumers to do all their financial business in one online arena," says Rick Hyde, president and CEO of Ticoon Technology Inc., a technology consulting firm for the financial services industry.

The entire management team at Invisor is well versed in the wealth management space.

Invisor's chairman, Terry Jackson, spent 25 years with BMO Nesbitt Burns and is also the former president and CEO of advisory firm Macdougall, Macdougall and MacTier Inc.

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Chief operating officer Dan Poole is the former vice-president of sales and strategic planning at Desjardins Financial Security.

It's not the first time a former head of a major investment firm has stood behind these new robo-adviser offerings. Last September, Joe Canavan, former head of Assante Wealth Management, helped launch Wealthsimple, a robo-adviser that recently partnered with Power Financial.

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About the Author
Globe Investor Reporter

Clare O’Hara is a reporter at The Globe and Mail. Prior to that, Clare spent eight years as a staff writer at Investment Executive, a national newspaper for financial service industry professionals. More

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