If you’re looking to sign up for automated investing service, this post covers the best Robo-advisors in Canada.
Robo-advisors not only make investment affordable, but they simplify the process with their “set-it-and-forget” strategy. With their emergence, anyone can start investing regardless of your budget, risk tolerance, and investment knowledge.
As expected, not all Robo-advisors are the same. They all have their unique selling points and may target a specific customer group. So if you want to make the most of your Robo-investment, the starting point is to find the best Robo-advisor.
Choosing from one of the Canadian Robo-advisors may seem challenging with the number of existing offerings and new Robo-advisory services being added often. But don’t worry!
In this post, we’ll go over the best Robo-advisors in Canada based on their key features and how they compare to their peers.
Overview of the Best Robo-Advisors in Canada
The table below shows the best Robo-advisors in Canada for 2023 and what they’re best for:
|Best Robo-Advisor For||Robo-advisor|
|Overall best||Wealthsimple Invest|
|Personalized financial planning||CI Direct Investing|
|Big banks’ Robo-advisor||RBC InvestEase|
|High balances||Nest Wealth|
|Human touch||BMO Smartfolio|
Best Robo-Advisors in Canada For 2022
1. Wealthsimple Invest
|Management Fee||0.4% to 0.5%|
|ETF MER||0.13% to 0.16%|
|Supported Accounts||RESP, TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, LIF, personal, joint, business, SRI, Halal investing|
Wealthsimple Invest is a passively managed Robo-advisor owned by Wealthsimple that helps Canadians invest on autopilot with its comprehensive automation of investment processes.
In addition to deposit automation, Wealthsimple Invest automates portfolio rebalancing and dividend reinvesting. Once you sign up and set up your deposit, you can be rest assured that all the heavy lifting will be taken care of by the Robo-advisor.
Should you need any help with your investing, the Robo-advisor has a dedicated team of expert financial advisors to give your portfolio a human touch.
Wealthsimple Invest portfolios are built using well-diversified ETF portfolios that invest in Canadian, US and international stocks and bonds, making it easy to build a diversified portfolio quickly.
Another interesting feature of Wealthsimple Invest is that it doesn’t have minimum balance requirements, unlike other Robo-advisors.
However, the major drawback of this Robo-advisor lies in its management fee of 0.4% to 0.5%. While this is less than the management fees of mutual funds, it still compares favourably to many of the other Robo-advisors covered below – but double that of Questwealth Portfolios.
Nevertheless, Wealthsimple Invest is my overall best Robo-advisor in Canada for passive, hands-off investing for someone starting with little money.
Promotion: Get a $25 bonus when you sign-up and deposit a minimum of $500.
Read this Wealthsimple Invest Review or my detailed Wealthsimple Review.
On Wealthsimple’s site
0.50% on balances below $100,000; 0.40% afterwards
$25 cash bonus with an initial deposit of at least $500; $150 transfer fee reimbursement when you move an account from another financial institution
0.12% to 0.15%
2. Questwealth Portfolios
|Management Fee||0.20% – 0.25%|
|ETF MER||0.17% to 0.22%|
|Supported Accounts||Cash (joint and corporate), TFSA, RRSP (spousal and locked-in), RIF, LIF, LIRA, RESP (plus family RESP).|
Questwealth Portfolios is Questrade’s Robo-advisory service that changes the popular perception of Robo-investing in Canada.
The popular perception is that Robo-advisors are passively managed and automated investment options and therefore affordable and low-cost.
But Questwealth Portfolios changed the popular perception by offering an actively managed portfolio that still manages to keep its costs lower than all the other Robo-advisory services through its “smart technology”.
As an actively managed portfolio, Questrade’s portfolio managers are able to make changes to your portfolio based on their research and what is happening in the market.
With passively managed Robo-advisors like Wealthsimple Invest, your portfolio is left unchanged except for when they perform the regular or periodic rebalancing – usually quarterly.
Besides the investing strategy, Questwealth Portfolios also distinguished itself with its low management fees and a host of freebies. Paying 0.20% to 0.25% management fees means saving more than 5x from the average mutual fund.
With Questwealth Portfolios, you pay 0.25% on the first $100,000 but the management fees drop to 0.2% for higher asset values.
However, the downside of Questwealth Portfolios lies in its $1,000 minimum balance requirements that may restrict it to low net worth investors.
Promotion: Get $10,000 managed free for the first year.
Read this Questwealth Portfolios Review or my full review of Questrade.
On Questrade’s site
0.25% on balances below $100,000; 0.20% afterwards
$10,000 managed free in the first year; $150 transfer fee reimbursement when you move an account from another financial institution
0.10% to 0.12%
|Management Fee||0.40% to 0.50%|
|Supported Accounts||RESP, TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, and non-registered accounts|
|Minimum Balance||$5,000 (no requirement for RESP)|
Next on this list of best Robo-advisors in Canada, we have Justwealth – a Toronto based portfolio manager.
If you’re looking for the best Robo-advisor for RESP in Canada, you can’t make the wrong choice with Justwealth. This Robo-advisor supports both registered and unregistered accounts with more than 70 low-cost ETF portfolios to choose from.
Among Justwealth’s wide range of automated portfolios, its RESP portfolio stands out in terms of fees, minimum balance and automation.
Justwealth pricing starts at 0.50% on the first $500,000 of your assets, with a monthly minimum management fee of $4.99. But the RESP account has a $2.50 fee minimum, saving you $2.49 monthly.
Another interesting thing about Justwealth is its tax-loss harvesting that helps you save on capital gain taxes on your non-registered accounts.
Should you need human touch on your portfolio, Justwealth has a dedicated team of experts offering customized financial and counselling services.
Learn more in this Justwealth RESP Review or read my full Justwealth Review.
|Management Fee||0% to 0.35%|
|ETF MER||0.25% average|
|Supported Accounts||RESP (plus family RESP), TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, (plus spousal RRIF), LIRA, individual, joint|
ModernAdvisor stands out in the competition with its expert-designed portfolios based on Nobel Prize-winning research.
As a division of Guardian Capital Group in Canada, ModernAdvisor core and socially responsible portfolios are designed for investors with different risk profiles.
One unique feature of ModernAdvisor is that its portfolios are passively managed but its rebalancing strategy is different from its peers.
Rather than rebalance at set times (once a quarter or annually like some robo-advisors), ModernAdvisor will rebalance whenever your target allocation is off by more than 5%. This could mean daily rebalancing depending on how the performing.
ModernAdvisor is also unique because of its low-cost passive investment options for both beginner and seasoned investors.
Unlike most robo-advisors in Canada, ModernAdvisor doesn’t charge a fee for investments below $10,000. This makes it ideal for fee-conscious investors on a low budget or those just getting started with investing.
5. CI Direct Investing
|Management Fee||0.35% to 0.60%|
|ETF MER||0.18% average|
|Supported Accounts||RESP, TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, LIF, LIRA, PPP, IPP, non-registered, HISA|
|Minimum Balance||None. Requires $1,000 minimum to start investing|
CI Direct Investing is the best overall robo-advisor in Canada for personalized financial planning. Formerly known as WealthBar, this robo-advisor supports a wide range of investment accounts making it possible to find your desired account.
While CI Direct Investing ETF and impact portfolios are managed passively, there are professional managers ready to give your portfolio a human touch with customized solutions.
Although CI Direct Investing doesn’t have minimum balance requirements, you need to deposit at least $1,000 to start investing.
Another drawback of this robo-advisor is that it has a relatively higher management fee and MER compared to other robo-advisors in Canada.
The base management fee is 0.60% on the first $150,000, but the fee gradually drops to 0.35% when you have $500,000 or more invested.
Here’s a table summarizing CI Direct Investing’s pricing:
|Amount Invested||Management Fee|
|First $150,000||0.60% annually|
|Next $350,000||0.40% annually|
|Above $500,000||0.35% annually|
In addition, CI Direct has a high-interest savings account that pays interest of 0.50% with no fees.
Promotion: CI Direct Investing will cover your transfer fees up to $150 when you move a minimum of $25,000 them.
Read more: CI Direct Investing Review
6. RBC InvestEase
|ETF MER||0.11% to 0.23%|
|Supported Accounts||TFSA, RRSP, Non-registered investment account.|
|Minimum Balance||None. But requires a $100 minimum balance to start investing|
RBC InvestEase is the overall best robo-advisor among Canadian big banks. This may not seem surprising considering the robo-advisor owner – Royal Bank of Canada – the largest Canadian bank by market capitalization.
The surprising thing here is that RBC competes with online brokerages in terms of its robo-advisor management fees and MER.
Like many of the other best robo-advisors covered in this post, RBC InvestEase is a hybrid investment platform. This means benefiting from both automated and human advisors simultaneously.
The robo-advisor has standard and responsible investing portfolios with different allocations and management expense ratios (MERs).
While RBC InvestEase doesn’t have a balance requirement, it has a $100 minimum investment requirement. However, this is low compared to other robo-advisors that require $1,000+.
7. Nest Wealth
|Management Fee||$5 to $150 per month|
|ETF MER||0.13% average|
|Supported Accounts||RESP, TFSA, RRSP (plus spousal RRSP), RRIF, LIRA, Spousal RRIF, cash, joint, trust, corporate|
Launched in 2014, Nest Wealth is one of the pioneer robo-advisors in Canada. The robo-advisor fee structure makes it a low-cost alternative for investors looking to invest high balances.
Unlike other robo-advisors, Nest Wealth doesn’t charge a percentage of your total investment as fees. Rather, it charges a fixed management fee based on the total balance in all your account.
Nest Wealth charges $5 per month for balances below $10k; $25 for $10k to $75k; and $150 per month for $325K and above. In addition to tax efficiency, high net investors can save more on fees with this structure.
Like other robo-advisors, Nest Wealth invests your funds in low-cost diversified ETF portfolios and adjusts them regularly. It also gives your portfolio a human touch with its dedicated team of professional financial experts.
Read my full Nest Wealth Review here.
8. BMO Smartfolio
|Management Fee||0.40% to 0.70%|
|ETF MER||0.20% to 0.35%|
|Supported Accounts||RESP, TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, individual and joint|
BMO Smartfolio is the pioneer robo-advisor among Canada’s big banks. This robo-advisor stands out due to its dedicated team of professional portfolio advisors that give your portfolio a human touch and offer professional advice.
You can choose from a wide range of registered and unregistered accounts and invest in any of its five portfolios that suit your investment goals and risk tolerance.
The drawback of BMO Smartfolio is that it has relatively higher fees and minimum balance requirements, making it restrictive to low net worth investors.
Promotion: Get 0.5% cash back on your funds when you open a new account. Bonus capped at $1,000.
How We Selected the Best Robo-Advisors in Canada
The above robo-advisors were selected based on their features including:
- Management fees
- MERs of the underlying ETFs
- Supported accounts
- Minimum balance requirements
- Portfolio performance
The ease of account opening, customer experience and customer service were also considered.
Are Robo-Advisors Perfect For You?
Though relatively new to the investment world, robo-advisors have quickly grown to be a top alternative to mutual funds and DIY investing through brokerage firms.
With the average robo-advisor in Canada, you could save more than 5x on investment fees compared to mutual funds that have an average fee above 2%.
And compared to DIY investing, robo-advisors eliminate the stress and time needed for actively tracking the stock market to make investing decisions.
Also, robo-advisors’ diversified investing strategy means you can limit your investment risk while maximizing returns by investing in low-cost diversified ETF portfolios.
Overall, robo-advisors cater to a wide spectrum of investors irrespective of their financial objectives, budgets, and risk tolerances.
However, robo-advisors may not be the perfect option for you if you’re looking to invest for short-term goals. This is when you may find a high-interest savings account (HISA) or a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) perfect.
Also, a robo-advisor may not be the perfect option for you if you’re looking to invest in other asset classes such as real estate or insurance products.
If you’re not sure how robo-advisors fit into your financial plan, please contact a professional financial advisor or consider the other alternatives discussed later in this article.
But if robo-advisor ticks all your criteria, then continue to the next section to learn about the factors to consider when choosing from the best robo-advisors in Canada.
How Do I Choose a Robo-Advisor?
With several great choices to pick from, picking one of the top robo-advisory services in Canada can be quite challenging. But it doesn’t have to be once you know what you look for and how they fit into your objectives.
So here are five factors to consider when choosing the best robo-advisor in Canada for your needs:
1. Investment Strategy
In general, robo-advisors follow a passive investment management strategy using low-cost ETFs. The vast majority of the robo-advisors covered in this post fall in this category.
Passive management means lower transactions and tweaking of the portfolio, with the result being a lower cost portfolio. Though the portfolio is rebalanced, it is done infrequently and usually at set periods e.g. quarterly or annually.
But active investing also has its place and may help to reduce portfolio risk when done properly. Questwealth Portfolios follows this strategy and still manages to keep its cost lower than its competitors.
That said, its portfolio turnover will still be much lower than what you would expect from traditional actively managed mutual funds.
So whichever strategy you decide to go with, you have some great choices with lower fees to choose from.
2. Available Account Types
As you can see from the above discussion, each of the best robo-advisors in Canada supports a different range of accounts.
Choosing a robo-advisor based on their supported account types is fairly straightforward – simply go for the robo-advisor that supports the type of investment account you want to invest in.
However, most of the robo-advisors support the common tax-advantaged or registered account types, so you’ll probably want to consider their other features before deciding.
For example, if you’re looking for a robo-advisor for RESP, you may prefer Justwealth for its target-date funds, which automatically de-risks your portfolio as your kid gets older, over Questwealth Portfolios with lower fees.
Whether you’re a low or high-net-worth investor, management fees and MER may determine your overall investment returns.
While robo-advisors have low fees compared to traditional mutual funds and brokerage firms, their fees vary.
Robo-advisors such as Questwealth Portfolios help you save more on fees. But fees are just one factor to consider when deciding on the right robo-advisor for you.
So you should compare the fees along with the returns and other features of the robo-advisor before making a final decision.
4. Minimum Account Balance
If you’re an investor that’s just starting to invest, you may want to go with a robo-advisor with no minimum balance requirement.
Luckily, several robo-advisors meets these criteria including Wealthsimple Invest which lets you start investing with as little as $1.
You can see how the above best robo-advisors in Canada differ considerably in terms of minimum balance. While some don’t have minimum balance requirements, others require you to make a minimum deposit to start investing.
But of course, the minimum balance requirement is usually below $1,000 so it may not matter that much.
Read more: Ways To Start Investing With Little Money
5. Regulation & Protection
Regulatory bodies moderate the operations of robo-advisors in Canada as in other parts of the world. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your investment is safe even when the robo-advisor goes out of business.
In Canada, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) regulates robo-advisors and other investing platforms.
On the other hand, Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) insures deposits up to $1 million per insured category.
As a result, you want to ensure that your potential robo-advisor is regulated and has deposit protection.
All the best robo-advisors in Canada profiled in this post are properly regulated federally and by the appropriate provincial bodies.
Alternatives to Robo-advisors in Canada
Notwithstanding their multiple benefits, robo-advisors don’t provide in-depth financial insight, making them less suitable for investors in complex situations.
Even though some robo-advisors provide access to financial advisors, you may only get this access with larger asset values. And the advice may not be the same as what you would get from a no-fee financial planner that can consider how your investment fits into your overall financial plan.
If you have a complicated financial situation and large account balance, you may be better off working with a human advisor. Yes, you’ll be paying an extra fee on top of the fee you’ll pay to a robo-advisors or incur to invest on your own but the results may be worth it.
So here are some of the alternatives to robo-advisors in Canada:
Self-directed or DIY Investing
With DIY investing, you handle all the investing decisions including when to invest, how much to invest, what to invest in, rebalancing frequency, tax-loss harvesting and more.
DIY investing requires you to be more hands-on with your investment portfolio and may be very time consuming and costly.
The barrier to entry is also higher for newbie investors.
But the good news is, you can now build a DIY investment portfolio that is well diversified, cheap and requires minimal ongoing maintenance using ETFs.
For example, you can quickly build a portfolio that’s diversified worldwide and across different asset classes using all-in-one ETFs like VEQT, XEQT and so on.
And the best part is you can trade these ETFs commission-free through Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade. Click on their respective links to get a $50 cash bonus when you sign-up.
Before robo-advisors, mutual funds were one the go-to options for investors looking to invest in diversified funds in a hands-off manner.
No matter your investment objective, there’s likely a mutual fund that’s catering for your needs.
But the biggest drawback of mutual funds is their higher management fees (above 2% on average) and other hidden fees that investors may not be fully aware of.
FAQs on the Best Robo-Advisors in Canada
A robo-advisor is an automated investment platform that automatically invests in the stock market using low-cost ETFs. They provide a quick, easy and cheap way to get access to the investment world with little knowledge and money
Absolutely. The idea behind robo-advisor is to simplify and make investment affordable and eliminate the barriers to entry. This perfectly meets the needs of many beginner investors with a low budget and looking to get their feet wet.
Like other investment platforms, robo-advisors have their good and ugly sides. The good sides include low fees, diversification, impressive returns, and hands-off investing. The major drawback of robo-advisors includes limited financial insights into complex situations.
There’s no risk-free investment including robo-advisor investing. Robo-advisors also invest in the same companies as mutual funds and DIY investors. In addition, they’re regulated by the appropriate government bodies.
It depends on your budget, investment objective and risk tolerance. However, different robo-advisors have different minimum investment requirements ranging from $0, $100 and more..
As Robo-advisors continue to evolve in Canada, we expect more competition among the existing services and the introduction of new ones. At the end of the day, Canadian investors will be better for it.
By now, you hopefully have all the information you need to narrow down your selection and choose from one of the best Robo-advisors in Canada covered in this post.
Overall, Wealthsimple Invest is the best robo-advisor because of its no minimum amount requirement, low fees, intuitive platform for beginners and more. Get $50 cash bonus to start investing with on autopilot on the platform.
But if Robo-advisors don’t meet your needs, then consider the top platforms for DIY investors in Canada such as Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade.
As always, prioritize your needs and situation above everything else when considering which trading platform to use.
If you need any help, please leave a comment below or consult a financial advisor to determine the perfect investing platform for you.
Kindly explore our existing blog posts to learn more about other investing solutions in Canada.
Learn more: Best Investments in Canada