Wealthsimple has launched an automated platform for financial advisors to manage their clients’ investment portfolios.
The robo-advisor handles the entire signup, from KYC to assessing suitability. Wealthsimple says this would free up the advisor’s time to provide holistic financial planning to their clients.
The new service will include an admin interface for the advisor, and a personalized dashboard for each client on the web and mobile apps. Wealthsimple will take the first 0.35% of an advisors’ assets on the platform, but advisors are free to add their management fees.
Read: Can a robot replace you?
But what do advisors think of robos targeting them?
Cindy David, senior estate planning specialist at Cindy David Financial Group in Vancouver, says the new offering is “no different than many platforms for processing business offered to advisors.”
She adds, “There is no denying that technology has a place in our business. Anybody who wants to be involved in financial services over the next 10, 20 or even 30 years needs to embrace it.”
Still, she notes there’s a need to discern between advice and information. “Clients need information, and they can get that from multiple sources — robo-advisor is one of them. Advice, however, needs to be malleable and take into account multiple factors, which sometimes is difficult to put in a box and spit out an answer. This is not a case of a robo-advisor taking the place of a financial advisor. This is simply a matter of filling a need where there is one.”
John Nicola, chairman and CEO of Nicola Wealth in Vancouver says the Wealthsimple news doesn’t come as a surprise. (Nicola is an advisor to robo-advisor WealthBar.)
“Both here and in the U.S., many if not most robo-advisors have either developed advisor platforms and services, or aligned themselves with major institutions who have significant traditional distribution channels,” he says. “The digital platform is more efficient than many existing models, so it will be no surprise to see a number of advisors choose to use these platforms as we move forward.”
Meanwhile, robo-advisor WealthBar in Vancouver is also looking to align itself with advisors. “We are developing and testing a full suite of advisor platform solutions,” says Chris Nicola, co-founder of WealthBar. “We designed WealthBar from the ground up as a technology solution to facilitate financial advisors working with their clients, and not simply as a pure robo-advisor.”
The firm currently employs two advisors who are involved in financial planning with clients, which is in addition to portfolio management.