A new Vancouver-based robo-advisor is set to launch at the end of October with the announcement on Thursday of a $2.2.-million investment in the fledgling company.
ModernAdvisor will launch initially in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario and has plans to expand to other provinces soon thereafter. The investment comes largely from Moray Keith and Jim Bond, two local businessmen from outside of the financial services industry. The announced round of financing also includes eight smaller investors, some of whom are portfolio managers. The company will use its recent infusion of cash to hire more software engineers and data scientists.
Navid Boostani, ModernAdvisor’s founder and CEO, decided to launch a robo-advisor after he saw the high fees many of his friends and family members were paying for investments.
“I’ve always been a proponent of low-cost, high-quality [exchange-traded funds (ETFs)],” says Boostani, who holds a master’s degree in engineering as well as the chartered investment manager and chartered financial analyst designations. “So, I brought the idea up with my friend, who was my co-founder [but who had to leave the company for personal reasons], and said, ‘We can do this online. We can design investment portfolios using ETFs and we can use technology to automate a lot of the tasks, and that would result in cost savings for the client’.”
Once launched, ModernAdvisor’s focus will be to identify and track its customers’ financial goals, Boostani says: “Just like fitness, we strongly believe that if you can identify and track your goals, you’re much more likely to get to where you need to go.”
ModernAdvisor will alert investors if they are falling short of their investment plans and make recommendations for how to get back on track. The new robo-advisor will also use a computer simulation to give investors an idea as to the returns they can expect from their investments based on certain probabilities.
Boostani believes these two features will help differentiate ModernAdvisor from the five other robo-advisor firms that have launched in Canada over the past year and a half, namely: WealthSimple Financial Inc., Nest Wealth Asset Management Inc. Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc. (all headquartered in Toronto), Vancouver-based WealthBar Financial Services Inc. and Invisor Investment Management Inc. of Oakville, Ont.
ModernAdvisor’s portfolios will consist of ETFs from a variety of ETF providers. Boostani emphasizes that the company is not affiliated or tied to any specific ETF provider. Management fees for ModernAdvisor will range from 0.35% to 0.5% a year.
Besides expanding across the country, Boostani says he is interested in broadening his business to work with financial advisors. “There is a natural fit between what we do and financial advisors,” he says, “and we’re talking to a few people to figure out partnership opportunities.”