RBC logo Royal Bank of Canada sign

Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has officially launched its robo-advisor platform, RBC InvestEase, to investors across Canada on Thursday, becoming the second bank among the Big Six, after Toronto-based Bank of Montreal (BMO), to enter this burgeoning space.

The launch of RBC InvestEase comes a year after the bank began testing the platform through a small pilot project involving employees in Ontario. In January, the bank launched a pilot project for a select group of clients in the same province.

Clients will be able to open an RBC InvestEase account with an initial investment of $1,000. The robo-advisor can support non-registered investment accounts as well as RRSPs and TFSAs. RBC InvestEase portfolios consist of index ETFs developed by RBC Global Asset Management.

The platform has a management fee of 0.5%, but that’s being waived until Oct. 31, 2019 for clients who sign up between before March 31, 2019.

“Canadians told us they are looking for a new way to invest that fits into their busy lifestyles. They want a convenient automated advice solution that is available whenever they are ready to get started,” said Stuart Rutledge, senior vice president, personal savings and investments, at RBC, in a statement. “They also told us they want to be hands-off, with experts making decisions for them, and easy access to an expert, if needed.”

RBC InvestEase matches clients who sign up to the service with an investment portfolio recommendation that corresponds with one of five risk profiles, ranging from very conservative to aggressive growth, based on their responses to a short, online questionnaire.

Once a client’s account is open and funded, RBC InvestEase builds the portfolio of low-cost ETFs. Portfolios are then monitored continuously and rebalanced automatically. RBC InvestEase provides clients with access to a team of live, accredited portfolio advisors if they have any questions, need advice or insights.

RBC InvestEase is the second full-service robo-advisor introduced by one of Canada’s Big Six banks. BMO launched SmartFolio in 2016 through its brokerage arm, BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. SmartFolio is a direct-to-consumer offering but clients can give their Nesbitt investment advisors permission to view their accounts.

Other banks among the Big Six also are exploring this space considerably. Montreal-based National Bank of Canada acquired of a minority stake in Toronto-based Nest Wealth Asset Management Inc. for $6 million in April 2017.

Furthermore, the bank signed a licensing agreement with Nest Wealth for its white label platform, Nest Wealth Pro, which will give advisors with the bank’s brokerage arm, National Bank Financial Ltd., access to the technology.

This past September, Toronto-based Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) entered a licensing deal with New York-based fintech firm the Hydrogen Technology Corp. that will allow the bank’s discount-brokerage clients to create their own financial plans and customized portfolios. TD is also planning to launch a “direct-to-consumer” robo-advisor platform in the near future.