Canada's robo-advisory space has gained a new independent entrant that's aiming to help investors design portfolios customized to their specific financial goals through a combination of active and passive investment management.
Oakville, Ont.-based Invisor Investment Management Inc. launched its new robo-advisory service on Tuesday. The online platform helps clients design an investment plan based on financial goals such as retirement planning, education funding, or purchasing a house. The robo-advisory service then recommends portfolios comprised of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to help clients reach those goals.
"We want our clients to start by thinking about their goals and not to worry about what product to select and what account to open," says Pramod Udiaver, co-founder and CEO of Invisor. "We want to make it easy and we want them to focus on their goals while we take care of what's the best portfolio for each of their goals."
Invisor is one of several robo-advisor platforms that have emerged in Canada in the past year. The firm's services provide clients with an online alternative to working with a financial advisor face-to-face. The robo-advisor platforms recommend an appropriate asset allocation for clients based on factors such as risk tolerance, age and financial goals.
Independence is a key component of Invisor's robo-advisory platform, Udiaver says, noting that the firm's portfolio managers will choose funds from all providers based on various selection criteria.
"We really want to make this an independent platform," he says, "where we can use the products that we believe are most appropriate for our clients."
Unlike most robo-advisory services, which primarily use ETFs in portfolio construction, Invisor also incorporates mutual funds. Udiaver says there is a role for both actively and passively managed products in a client's portfolio.
"We don't want to throw that out the window and say there's no value for active [management]," he says. "We can add value beyond just a benchmark return."
The firm will use primarily lower-cost F-class mutual funds in order to keep costs down for investors. The total cost of Invisor's services, including management expense fees, trading fees and Invisor fees, will come to approximately 1%-1.1% annually for most clients, Udiaver says.
"It's way lower than what a typical customer would pay for a similar product through the advisor channel," he says.
Udiaver has more than 20 years of experience in financial services. He spent more than a decade at TD Asset Management Inc., at which he was most recently vice president and director, investment management.
Udiaver co-founded Invisor with Dan Poole, who is also the firm's chief operating officer. Poole also has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services sector, including a variety of executive level roles in the life insurance and reinsurance space.
The co-founders were driven to launch Invisor based on observations of the financial services sector's growing concentration on high net-worth clients. In particular, barriers such as costly fees and high account minimums leave many Canadians without access to professional investment advice, Udiaver says.
"We're trying to make investment management services available and affordable to all Canadians," he says, noting that Invisor has no minimum investment amounts required. "This is an opportunity to serve a pretty large segment of the population that's either underserved or, perhaps, not served at all."
Invisor plans to launch a more comprehensive financial planning platform later this year, incorporating insurance and other components of a client's broader financial plan.
"The goals-based approach ties into the financial planning services that we plan to introduce later nicely," Udiaver says.
Invisor is currently registered as a portfolio manager in Ontario and Manitoba. The firm is in the process of securing licences in other provinces with a goal of eventually operating across Canada.