Best Robo-advisors in Canada 2019


Last updated on July 29, 2019

Robo-advisors relieve individuals from paying a premium for a simple manoeuvre and instead make their broker work harder for their investment dollar. Until recently, you needed to get your advisor to switch around your investments to keep the portfolio within your target risk-reward range, but with the invention of robo-advisors, anyone can start investing in ETFs with limited investment knowledge and hassle free. Below is a robo-advisor comparison table that outlines some of the best robo-advisors in Canada so that you can choose the robo-advisor that best suits your investing needs.

On this page you will find
Best Robo-advisors in Canada 2019 ▼



Robo-advisor Comparison Chart

The cost of a robo-advisor depends upon which firm you go with and what services you use. Below is a comparison table of some of Canada’s more prominent robo-advisors. The table below lists robo-advisors and their account minimum, ETF management fees, and annual management fees.

Robo-advisor
Average MER Fees Minimum Deposit
featured
Wealthsimple logo icon only no text square
Wealthsimple
0.20% 0.5% on $100K
0.4% on $100K+
$0 Open Account
Learn more
featured
Questrade logo icon only no text square
Questwealth
0.19%
0.25% on $100K
0.20% on $100K+
$1,000 Open Account
Learn more
featured
Justwealth logo icon only no text square
Justwealth
0.20% 0.5% on $500K
0.4% on $500K+
$5,000 ($0 for RESP) Open Account
Learn more



WealthBar


0.26%-0.34% 0.60% on $150K
0.40% on $150K - $350K
0.35% on $500K+
$1,000 Learn More



BMO SmartFolio


0.20%-0.35% 0.70% on $100K
0.60% on $100K - $250K
0.50% on $250K - $500K
0.40% on $500K+
$1,000 Learn More



Modern Advisor


0.20% 0.50% on $10K-$100K
0.40% on $100K-$500K
0.35% on $500K+
$0 Learn More



RBC InvestEase


0.10%-0.17% 0.50% $1,000 Learn More



Responsive Capital Management


0.14%-0.19% 0.80% on $200K
0.50% on $200K+
$10,000 - $15,000 Learn More



Smart Money Capital Management


0.27% 0.80% $5,000 Learn More



Invisor


0.20% 0.50% $0 Learn More


Best Robo-advisors in Canada for 2019


Robo-advisors—with their almost automatic ability to change your investment mix—eliminates the need for pricey investment pros to rebalance your portfolio. That means you pay less to keep your investments in the proper order and those advisors can spend their time doing something to really justify their fees.


Wealthsimple

Best for investors who value low fees and a super sleek user interface.
Promo Offer: Get $10,000 managed for free for one year when you open a Wealthsimple account.

Company Overview

Michael Katchen founded Wealthsimple in Canada in 2014, and the company has been making waves in the investment industry ever since. Wealthsimple currently has over $3 billion under management and is one of the best robo advisors in Canada. Wealthsimple offers a variety of tools on top of their classic robo advisor portfolios to help you save more money. For more information, read a full Wealthsimple review on our blog.

View Wealthsimple Fact Sheet ▼

Best for Wealthsimple is best for investors who value low fees and a super sleek user interface
Availability All of Canada
Account Options Non-registered, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, RESP, LIRA
Minimum Deposit None
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.50% on investments under $100,000
  • 0.40% on investments over $100,000
Average MER Average of 0.20%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc.
Launch Year 2014
Open Account Online
Dedicated Portfolio Manager No
Promotional Offers Available Get $10,000 managed for free for one year when you sign up for your first Wealthsimple account.
Try Wealthsimple Now

Wealthsimple Pros & Cons ▼

Wealthsimple is great for

  • No minimum initial investment
  • Automatic contributions
  • Socially responsible and halal investing options
  • Fees range from 0.35% to 0.50% depending on portfolio size
  • ETF MERs average 0.20%
  • Unlimited human advice from team of portfolio managers
  • Extra perks for large accounts including financial planning and VIP airport lounge access
  • Extra tools like Roundup, Overflow, High-interest savings accounts, and Wealthsimple Trade
  • Accounts available are non-registered, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, RESP, LIRA

Wealthsimple could improve on

  • Only three possible portfolio asset allocations
  • Fees could be lower


Questwealth Portfolio (previously Questrade IQ)

Best for investors who value the absolute lowest fees
Promo Offer: Get $50 fee credit when you open a Questwealth account.

Company Overview

Questwealth Portfolios is the robo advisor arm of the online discount brokerage Questrade, a company that has been providing low cost online investing solutions to Canadians since 1999. Questwealth Portfolios is Canada’s fastest growing robo advisor with over 30,000 new account sign-ups last year.

Questwealth Fact Sheet ▼

Best for Canadians looking for the absolute lowest possible fees
Availability All of Canada
Account Options Non-registered, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, RESP, LIRA, Spousal RRSP, RIF, LIF
Minimum Deposit Money is invested when you reach $1,000 in deposits
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.25% on investments from $1,000 to $100,000
  • 0.20% on investments of over $100,000
Average MER Average 0.19%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian Online discount brokerage Questrade
Launch Year 2014
Open Account Online
Dedicated Portfolio Manager No, but they can request to speak to someone they are familiar with
Promotional Offers Available $50 fee rebate when you open an account
Best Robo-advisors Comparison (Quick View)

Questwealth Portfolio Pros & Cons ▼

Questwealth is great for

  • Industry leading low fees range from 0.20% to 0.25% depending on your portfolio size
  • Average ETF MER of 0.19%
  • No minimum initial investment
  • Questwealth will pay your transfer out fees from other financial institutions
  • Link family and friend accounts to take advantage of lower fees
  • Socially responsible investing

Questwealth could improve in

  • Actively managed, does not adhere to traditional passive investing principles



Justwealth

Best for anyone with unique investment requirements. You can get up to $500 sign-up bonus when you open a Justwealth account.

Co-founded by Andrew Kirkland and James Gauthier and headquartered in Toronto, Justwealth makes it their business to provide fair and unbiased investment advice to Canadians. To that end, Justwealth is a registered portfolio manager across all ten provinces, which means they have a fiduciary duty to put your interests first. Their custodian is Virtual Brokers, which is a part of BBS Securities in Canada.

Justwealth Fact Sheet ▼

Best for Justwealth is best for anyone with unique investment requirements
Availability Justwealth is registered across all ten provinces
Account Options Non-registered, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, RESP, Spousal RRSP, LIRA, LIF
Minimum Deposit $5,000. RESP accounts have no minimum deposit amount required. Minimum deposit can be waived if you are planning to transfer assets from other accounts or plan to set up monthly contributions that will get you to $5,000 in the near future.
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.50% on investments under $500,000
  • 0.40% on investments over $500,000
Average MER Averge of 0.20%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian BBS Securities Inc.
Launch Year 2016
Open Account Online only (paper applications over email can be made available if required). Virtually all documentation is paperless and can be signed electronically.
Account Open Process Justwealth employs a straightforward, 3-step online application process: (1) Investment Questionnaire, (2) Personal Information Worksheet (captures personal info), (3) digital signature, and ID verification. The online process can be completed in approximately 15 minutes and accounts can be activated in as little as one business day.
Dedicated Portfolio Manager Yes. Every client receives a Dedicated Portfolio Manager known as a Personal Portfolio Manager. Justwealth also has a licensed Certified Financial Planner (CFP) on staff who can provide detailed consultation/planning upon request."
Promotional Offers Available Receive a cash bonus when you open and fund a new Justwealth account.
  • $50 for assets between $5,000 and $24,999
  • $100 for assets between $25,000 and $49,999
  • $225 for assets between $50,000 and $99,999
  • $500 for assets over $100,000
Try Justwealth Now

Justwealth Pros & Cons ▼

+

  • Fees range from 0.40% to 0.50% depending on portfolio size
  • Average ETF MER is 0.20%
  • Over 70 different portfolio options including target date portfolios for RESPs
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • RESP account pricing of $2.50 applies to RESPs less than $6,000
  • USD investment accounts available
  • Justwealth assigns an actual dedicated Registered Portfolio Manager to each account, as opposed to CFPs, who are not registered under the portfolio manager designation and should not count as a dedicated portfolio manager

-

  • A minimum initial investment of $5,000 excludes many new investors
  • Fees could be lower
  • User experience is not as sleek as other robo advisors

best robo advisors in canada


Wealthbar

Originally founded in 2014, Wealth Bar was one of the original robo advisors in Canada. Wealth Bar recently became part of the CI Financial Group of companies, a Canadian owned global asset manager with $180 billion in total assets.

Wealthbar Fact Sheet ▼

Best for Canadians who need additional financial planning beyond investment advice
Availability All of Canada (not available in French)
Account Options Non-registered, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, RESP
Minimum Deposit $1,000
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.60% on investments under $150,000
  • 0.40% on investments above $350,000 and under $500,000
  • 0.35% on investments of over $500,000
Average MER Between 0.26% and 0.34%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian National Bank Independent Network, BBS Securities & Credential Securities
Launch Year 2014
Open Account Online only (paper applications over email can be made available if required). Virtually all documentation is paperless and can be signed electronically.
Dedicated Portfolio Manager Each client is assigned a non-commission financial advisor
Promotional Offers Available None
Best Robo-advisors Comparison (Quick View)

Wealthbar Pros & Cons ▼

+

  • Each client is assigned a non-commission financial advisor
  • Choose between ETF portfolios and actively managed portfolios
  • Cleantech and socially responsible investing opportunities
  • Fees range from 0.41% to 0.60% depending on portfolio size
  • ETF MERs range from 0.26% to 0.34%
  • Optional estate planning, insurance needs planning, and tax optimization planning
  • Will pay your transfer out fee up to $150 with a minimum investment of $25,000

-

  • Fees could be lower
  • A minimum initial investment of $1,000


WealthBar is Best for

Canadians who need additional financial planning beyond investment advice

Robo-advisor Comparison Table




BMO Smartfolio

BMO Smartfolio was launched to the public in 2016, and is the first robo advisor launched by one of Canada’s big banks. BMO Smartfolio operates under BMO Nesbitt Burns and is backed by the strong reputation associated with BMO products.

BMO Smartfolio Fact Sheet ▼

Best for Canadians who want the security of investing with a household name
Availability All of Canada
Account Options Non-registered, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, RESP
Minimum Deposit $1,000
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.70% on investments under $100,000
  • 0.60% on next $150,000
  • 0.50% on next $250,000
  • 0.40% on investments of $500,000 and obove
Average MER Average between 0.20% to 0.35%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian BMO Smartfolio operates under BMO Nesbitt Burns
Launch Year 2016
Open Account Online
Dedicated Portfolio Manager No
Promotional Offers Available None
Best Robo-advisors Comparison (Quick View)

BMO Smartfolio Pros & Cons ▼

+

  • Backed by one of Canada’s big five banks
  • Excellent customer service
  • Quarterly portfolio rebalancing
  • Portfolios are designed using BMO ETFs
  • ETF MER ranges from 0.20% to 0.35%

-

  • A minimum initial investment of $1,000
  • Fees range from 0.40% to 0.70% making it one of the most expensive robo advisors
  • Actively managed, does not adhere to traditional passive investing principles


BMO Smartfolio is Best for

Canadians who want the security of investing with a household name

Robo-advisor Comparison Table





RBC InvestEase

RBC InvestEase was launched to all RBC Royal Bank customers in late 2018, making it the newest robo advisor in Canada. The custodian of RBC InvestEase is RBC Direct Investing, which is a member of the Canadian Investors Protection Fund (CIPF), so your money is safe with this robo advisor. RBC InvestEase uses the classic robo advising model of designing your portfolio using exchange traded funds (ETFs), in this case, proprietary ETFs developed by RBC Global Asset Management.

RBC InvestEase Fact Sheet ▼

Best for Existing RBC customers or anyone who wants the familiarity of a big bank robo advisor
Availability All of Canada
Account Options Non-registered, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, RESP, RLSP, LIRA
Minimum Deposit $1,000
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.50% on all
Average MER Average between 0.10% and 0.17%
Additional Fees None
Insurance Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). CIPF insures individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian RBC Direct Investing Inc.
Launch Year 2018
Open Account Online, and a portfolio advisor will follow with a call to confirm that the portfolio you've selected suits your needs
Dedicated Portfolio Manager No
Promotional Offers Available None
Best Robo-advisors Comparison (Quick View)

RBC InvestEase Pros & Cons ▼

+

  • 0.50% management fee is relatively competitive compared to other big bank robo advisors
  • ETF MERs average 0.10% to 0.17%
  • Reliability and security of a company that has been in business for over 150 years
  • Automatic contributions
  • Access to a portfolio advisor if you have any questions
  • TFSA, RRSP, etc. are supported

-

  • $1,000 minimum initial investment is not the lowest in the industry
  • Pay $135 to transfer out to another financial institution
  • No socially responsible portfolios
  • No corporate or not for profit accounts
  • No fee break for larger portfolio balances


RBC InvestEase is Best for

Existing RBC customers or anyone who wants the familiarity of a big bank robo advisor

Robo-advisor Comparison Table



Modern Advisor

Modern Advisor was founded in 2013 and is one of the oldest robo advisors in Canada. When you open an account with Modern Advisor, your money is held by Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. That name may not sound familiar, but this company safeguards over $20 billion for financial institutions across the country and is a member of CIPF, so your money is protected.

Modern Advisor Fact Sheet ▼

Best for Those looking to cut their management fees to the bare bones with a passive investing solution
Availability All of Canada
Account Options Non-registered, TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP
Minimum Deposit None
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • Free on investments under $10,000
  • 0.50% on investments between $10,000 and $100,000
  • 0.40% on investments between $100,000 and $500,000
  • 0.35% on investments over $500,000
Average MER Average 0.20%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian Credential Qtrade Securities Inc.
Launch Year 2016
Open Account Online
Dedicated Portfolio Manager No
Promotional Offers Available None
Best Robo-advisors Comparison (Quick View)

ModernAdvisor Pros & Cons ▼

+

  • No minimum initial investment
  • All standard investment accounts are available including RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered accounts
  • Fees range from 0.35% - 0.50% depending on portfolio size
  • ETF MERs max out at 0.20%
  • Modern Advisor is registered as a Restricted Portfolio Manager, which means they have a fiduciary duty to put your best interests first

-

  • Not a household name
  • Your money is invested in $1,000 increments, so while there is no minimum account size, you need at least $1,000 before your money is converted from cash to investments



ModernAdvisor is Best for

Those looking to cut their management fees to the bare bones with a passive investing solution

Robo-advisor Comparison Table





Invisor

Invisor Fact Sheet ▼

Availability All of Canada
Account Options Non-registered, RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, RESP
Minimum Deposit None
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.50% on all
Average MER Averge 0.20%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian Industrial Alliance Insurance & Financial Services Inc.
Launch Year 2014
Open Account Online
Dedicated Portfolio Manager No
Promotional Offers Available None
Best Robo-advisors Comparison (Quick View)


Responsive Capital Management

Responsive Capital Management Fact Sheet ▼

Availability AB, BC, ON
Account Options Non-registered, TFSA, RRSP
Minimum Deposit TFSA and non-registered accounts: $10,000; RRSP: $15,000
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.8% on investments of $0 to $200,000
  • 0.5% on investments of $200,000 or more
Average MER Average between 0.14% and 0.19%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian Interactive Brokers Canada Inc.
Launch Year 2016
Open Account Online
Dedicated Portfolio Manager No
Promotional Offers Available None
Best Robo-advisors Comparison (Quick View)

Smart Money Capital Management

Smart Money Capital Management Fact Sheet ▼

Availability ON, AB, QC
Account Options Non-registered, TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP, LIRA
Minimum Deposit $5,000
Trading Fees Included in advice fees
Annual Advice and
Management Fees
  • 0.8% on all
Average MER Average 0.27%
Additional Fees None
Insurance CIPF insured individual accounts for up to $1,000,000
Custodian Third Party
Launch Year 2015
Open Account Online
Dedicated Portfolio Manager Yes
Promotional Offers Available None
Best Robo-advisors Comparison (Quick View)


Robo-advisor FAQs


You might be forgiven—with all the talk of smart machines taking Canadian jobs —if you thought of robo-advisors as another bid at making the Terminator’s world a reality on Bay Street. In fact, the appearance of robo-advisors is an effort to turn a basic investing fundamental—re-balancing your portfolio—from something mystical into a move that is done automatically and cheaply. Below are the answers to some frequetly asked robo-advisor questions.

▼ What’s a Robo-advisor?

A robo-advisor builds a portfolio based upon your risk tolerance, financial goals and personal situation. This financial grouping usually includes equities across a variety of industrial sectors and a mix between stocks and bonds.

Periodically, your portfolio might get aligned differently than the desired balance. Maybe one sector performs better than another making that group more valuable in your specific mix. Whatever the reason, the robo-advisor will shift your holdings so that the portfolio maintains its initial metrics.

Here’s the trick: The financial watcher doesn’t buy or sell individual equities to achieve this goal. Instead, they trade exchange-traded funds (ETFs), investment vehicles that hold a variety of stocks that mimic a particular index or sector.

So, the rebalancing process isn’t stock picking but an almost mathematical function of buying or selling ETFs, a far simpler process.


▼ Are there any robots in robo-advisor?

No. You talk to human beings.

The ‘robo’ part of the term refers to the automatic process of adding or subtracting ETFs to maintain the original shape of the portfolio. Some robo firms do offer more sophisticated financial advice for individuals at an additional price.


▼ Should I consult a Financial Advisor?

Not for this particular function.

You don’t rebalance a portfolio to maximize a rate of return, at least in the short term. Instead you switch around investments to keep the risk-return equilibrium of the stocks and bonds within the bounds of what you wanted when you originally set up the portfolio.

Besides, there is an amount of academic literature that says financial advisors aren’t any better picking individual stocks than any one else. So—this line of reasoning goes—you’re better off holding a fistful of ETFs that mirror industries than you are having a financial pro picking single stocks that just lose money.


▼ Why Choose a Robo-advisor?

To save time and money.

You save time because figuring out which individual stocks to purchase—whether on your own or spending time listening to your advisor tell you the rationale underlining each stock move—can be a lengthy process.

Also, by focusing on individual stocks, you can spend an inordinate amount of time stressing about single-day price moves.

While holding ETFs does take away the gambling aspect to stocks, the process gets rid of most of the anxiety associated with equity markets. You save money because robo-advisor accounts usually have fees than are less than what traditional brokers or financial planners charge.

The automated nature of robo-investing means you don’t have some high-priced suit fidgeting with a hand calculator looking for the correct mix of stocks. Instead, they just reassess your ETF mix and act accordingly, which is a less costly process.

In most cases, those savings gets passed along to the client in terms of lower fees.


▼ What are Robo-advisor Fees?

The fees associated with the robo accounts consist of three factors:

  • Advice fees—You’re looking at somewhere in the range of 0.5% for minimum dollar accounts and a smaller percentage for people with more money.
  • Fund fees—This is the money you fork over when you buy the ETFs. But you don’t pay these directly; instead these fees are subtracted from the ETF returns.
  • Trading commissions—These are generally covered in the advice category.

Some services work on the basis of a monthly subscription fee, say $10 to $40, versus a percentage of the amount invested. Overall, a typical robo-advisor will cost an individual between 0.5% and 0.8% of the monies invested every year.


▼ Who Should Use Robo-advisors?

To some extent, people in any financial circumstance would gain from robo-investing. But the vehicle is really ideal for younger investors—basically millennials.

So, they don’t need a lot of hand holding from financial planners; these investors just need someone to look over their portfolio to make sure it still fits their risk-reward tolerance.

For one thing, this cohort is tech savvy and appears more accepting of online investing than older individuals. As well, younger people are usually just starting out in their careers and don’t have a ton of cash to sink into the stock market.

Older people, perhaps empty nesters approaching retirement, might be more willing to look at owning individual stock and bond issues. Here, planners would have to be more involved in the investor’s portfolio.


▼ Are Robo-advisors Insured?

In the event the robo-advisor goes bankrupt, the assets you hold are as safe as they would be if you invest with one of the big banks or other large financial institution.

That’s because most robo-advisors are basically storefronts whereby the investment part is run by some third party. And it is those back office entities that complete the trades.

Usually the third party group is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), which provides investor help in the case of member bankruptcy. That said, you should check to make sure the advisor you’re considering is a CIPF member or has a back office partner that is a member.


▼ Can't I Just Buy ETFs Instead?

You could and save the higher commissions you would pay in a robo-advisor versus an ETF-only vehicle. In that scenario, however, you’d still face the problem of making sure your mix of ETFs reflected your risk-reward trade-off.

That process could be time consuming. And the whole point of buying into the robo funds was to save yourself the time and effort rebalancing your portfolio.


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