TD GoalAssist™ Review: Goal-based Investment App For Canadians

TD Direct Investing just launched a new mobile investing app for Canadians. The new service is aimed at Canadians looking to plan and invest towards some financial goals.

The service is called TD GoalAssist and this is a review of its offering and how it compares to the existing investing tools for Canadians.

What is TD GoalAssist

TD GoalAssist is a mobile investing app, available on both iOS and Android, that lets users build and monitor a portfolio using TD ETFs and other stocks listed on 6 major North American exchanges.

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TD GoalAssist Features

These are some of the key features of the TD GoalAssist

  • Create plans for your goals and monitor your progress
  • No account minimums or monthly fees
  • $0 commission on TD ETFs
  • $9.99 to trade stocks on listed on major North American exchanges
  • Digital account opening process
  • Support for 3 account types: RRSP, TFSA and Cash
  • Account denominated in Canadian dollars.
  • Educational videos to build investing knowledge and guide you through the app like the one below.

TD GoalAssist Pricing

The pricing is straightforward.

TD GoalAssist pricing from Goal Assist Review

Take note of the currency conversion cost because it can quickly add up.

If you do a lot of USD transactions such as funding your account in USD, buying USD stocks, receiving dividends and so on, TD will convert these to Canadian dollars at their rate. Usually, these rates are unfavourable to the investor.

Check here for a list of other fees and commissions.

How does TD GoalAssist Compare to Existing Products?

Because of the guided app experience with resources to help you get started investing, TD GoalAssist may look like a robo-advisor but it is not.

It is a self-directed investing app. All the investment decisions like what to buy, your asset allocation, ongoing monitoring will be done by the user.

TD GoalAssist vs Wealthsimple and Other Robo-advisors

How does TD GoalAssist compare to other robo-advisors or managed investment services from WealthSimple and Questrade (Questwealth Portfolios)

In terms of the cost, the fees you pay for a robo-advisor service include

  1. The management or advisory fee: Questrade fees are 0.20% to 0.25%, while Wealthsimple starts at 0.5% but drops to 0.40% for accounts over $100,000.
  2. The MER of the underlying ETFs (0.10 to 0.20 per cent)

Based on costs alone, TD GoalAssist is cheaper. Depending on the ETFs you choose, your total cost could be lower since there are no management fees.

But remember you’re paying for the advisory services and convenience with robo-advisors. Once you transfer your fund to them, everything is handled for you.

You won’t have to deal with periodic rebalancing or deciding on which stocks to invest in. In that sense, robo-advisors like Wealthsimple let you build a portfolio on auto-pilot.

Also, Wealthsimple and Questwealth Portfolios have more account types including RESP, RRIF, Margin accounts and so on.

Related Post: How To Build A Diversified Investment Portfolio (3 Quick & Easy Ways)

TD GoalAssist vs Questrade vs WealthSimple Trade

Since you effectively manage your TD GoalAssist portfolio yourself, I think comparing them to other self-directed accounts in Canada is more appropriate.

Questrade lets you buy ETFs commission free but there’s a cost to sell ETFs or buy stocks, starting at $4.99 and capped at $9.99. You can open a variety of account types that are not available on TD GoalAssist including RESP, LIRA, margin accounts.

With Wealthsimple Trade, you can trade both ETFs and stocks commission free. The only catch is that the account types are also limited like TD GoalAssist and the accounts are denominated in CAD.

Get 2 Free Stocks Bonus from Wealthsimple Trade (up to $4,500 in value)

Here is a summary of how the 3 offerings compare:

TD GoalAssistQuestrade Self-directedWealthsimple Trade
Account TypesRRSP, TFSA and CashRRSP, TFSA, RESP, Margin and many moreRRSP, TFSA and Cash
Eligible investmentsTD ETFs, Stocks and ADRsETFs, Stocks, Bonds, Options etcETFs and stocks
CommissionTD ETFs: Free to buy and sell
Others: $9.99 (CAD or USD)
ETFs: Free to buy
Stocks: min. of $4.95, up to $9.95
Free
Account CurrencyCADCAD and USDCAD

TD One-Click ETFs vs Asset Allocation ETFs

TD’s One-Click ETFs are asset allocation ETFs that lets investors quickly and cheaply build a diversified portfolio.

Through the app, you can choose from the 3 available TD One-Click ETFs depending on your risk appetite. The conservative portfolio has an allocation of 30% to bonds and 70% to stocks; moderate portfolio has 40% bonds and 60% stocks; and aggressive portfolio has 10% in bonds and 90% to stocks.

The One-Click ETFs have a management fee of 0.25% so the total cost (MER) should be around 0.28-0.30 per cent.

In comparison, Vanguard and BlackRock asset allocation ETFs have an MER of 0.25 and 0.2 percent respectively, with more options. For example, Vanguard has 5 different bonds and stocks combinations.

And you can buy them commission free through WealthSimple Trade or Questrade.

To learn how asset allocation ETFs work and how you can use them to quickly build a well-diversified portfolio, check out the linked post.

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TD GoalAssist vs TD Direct Investing (WebBroker)

WebBroker from TD Direct Investing is a full-fledged investing and trading platform with many more features than is currently available on TD GoalAssist.

Some of its features include stock screeners, access to market and investment research, tools to help you better manage your portfolio and more registered accounts offerings.

Want to open an RESP, Locked-in retirement account (LIRA), Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) and many more? WebBroker has you covered.

The standard trading commission for TD Direct Investing also starts at $9.99 for both Canada and US stocks. The commission drops to $7 for active traders (150 trades/quarter).

In summary, TD GoalAssist is targeted towards beginners that are just getting started with investing. But WebBroker from TD Direct Investing is for more seasoned investors that need more features and account types.

Limitations of TD GoalAssist

There is no telling what TD has planned for the app, but here are some of the limitation for now:

  • Limited account type: Only RRSP, TFSA and cash (non-registered) accounts are available
  • Only ETFs from TD can be purchased on the app. While there’s enough variety in TD ETFs and the One-Click ETFs compare favourably to other all-in-one ETFs, it would be nice to have access to cheaper non-TD ETFs.
  • At $9.99 to trade stocks, it is more expense than Questrade or WealthSimple Trade
  • There’ll be currency conversion costs if you trade in non-CAD securities.

The app is still new, and TD may decide to add more features and support other account types in the future. But for now, keep these limitations in mind before you decide to take the plunge.


Some FAQs

What account types are available on TD GoalAssist?

You can open a TFSA, RRSP or cash (non-registered) accounts. Other account types like RESP and LIRA are not supported at the moment.

How do I open a TD GoalAssist account?

The process is simple and straightforward for existing TD customers. You can open the account using your online banking credentials. For new TD customers, a government issued ID and SIN will be needed for the account opening.

Can I buy non-TD ETFs and stocks on the app?

No, only TD ETFs can be purchased through the app. Stocks listed on 6 of the major North American exchanges (TSX, TSXV, NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX; CBOE) can also be traded at $9.99 per trade.

What is the minimum opening balance for TD GoalAssist?

There is no minimum balance, so you can start investing with little money.


Conclusion

This TD GoalAssist review is largely positive, but it may not be for everyone. The service joins a long roster of investment products available to Canadians.

If you’re new to investing and need some guidance at a relatively low cost, opening a GoalAssist account may be right for you.

After a while though, you may find the need to upgrade to a full service online brokerage like Questrade with more features.

So what do you think of TD Goal Assist? Will you be giving it a try? What has been your experience if you’ve opened the account?

For more of the best finance tools for Canadians, check the post below:

Best Personal Finance Products and Services For Canadians

Related Post: Robinhood App Canada: Alternative for Canadians

TD GoalAssist Review
4.5

Summary

TD GoalAssist is a basic, simplified and goals-based investment app for Canadians that are new to investing and want a guided experience at a low-cost.

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

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