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The new service is intended for advisors who have clients with smaller accounts they want to keep on, but don’t meet minimum account requirements

By Fiona Collie |

Toronto-based robo-advisor Wealthsimple Financial Inc. officially launched its platform specifically for financial advisors, dubbed Wealthsimple for Advisors, on Tuesday.

The platform, originally offered earlier this year as a pilot project for 50 advisors, is mainly intended for advisors who have clients with small accounts that don't meet minimum account requirements, but that advisors don't want to sever that relationship. Such an example would be a client's child.

This platform allows advisors to maintain a relationship with those smaller account clients without spending time on the day-to-day management of the account, says Jason Goldlist, chief marketing officer with Wealthsimple. Instead, advisors can focus on accounts that better fit their business and minimum requirements.

"We're trying to partner with advisors, not take them on," says Goldlist. "There are certain services that are best provided by humans, especially in complex or complicated matters, and so we just want to provide a digital experience to [clients]."

Advisors interested in working with the robo-advisor can invite clients via email to sign up for a Wealthsimple account. Wealthsimple then handles the investment management of those accounts. Advisors cannot create their own investment portfolios for clients on the platform or recommend their own products.

However, advisors can keep tabs on the client's progress via a dashboard portal. The dashboard gives an advisor an overview of all accounts held on the platform, including client names and contact information, how many Wealthsimple accounts each client holds, and total assets under management. Advisors can also take a closer look at each account, including assets and performance, by clicking on a client's name.

The platform's fees range from 0.35% (Wealthsimple's management fee) to 1.5%. What price advisors set is based on the extra services they intend to offer, such as financial planning or tax planning. For example, a fee-for-service advisor might leave the management fee at 0.35% and charge a flat fee for a financial plan, while an advisor who offers clients additional services, such as tax planning, might increase the fee to 0.5% or 1%. Or, advisors could leave the management fee at 0.35% and simply monitor the accounts and contact clients occasionally until their financial needs warrant more attention.

Wealthsimple will also give advisors a heads-up when that day comes. As part of the platform, advisors set an asset goal for each client. Wealthsimple then informs advisors via email once that account hits the target asset level. At that point, advisors can decide if they want to see that client accounts over to their own books of business.

Wealthsimple for Advisors is currently open to any advisor who would like to join, regardless as to registration or business model. Currently, Wealthsimple does not have any specific arrangements with a dealer or brokerage firm, says Goldlist, but that could change in future.

"I'd expect some partnerships with some of the larger firms formally offering this [platform] to their networks of advisors as a way to keep them focused on the core accounts that make sense to them — so really higher net-worth offerings," he says, "but still giving them a way to monetize some of their smaller relationships."

Photo copyright: Bloomberg