This VirtualWealth review takes a look at the services of one of the best robo-advisors in Canada.
There are many reasons why robo advisors adoption continue to increase compared to alternative investment platforms like mutual funds and self-directed brokerages. Besides their low costs, robo advisors also help you diversify your portfolio while saving you the stress of research, investing, portfolio monitoring and rebalancing.
If you’re on the look for the best robo-advisors in Canada, VirtualWealth is one of the top options you’ll come across in Canada.
While VirtualWealth competes well with some of the robo advisors in Canada, there is a lot you need to know when determining if it’s the perfect option for you.
This VirtualWealth review covers everything you need to know about the robo advisor including its portfolios, fees, alternatives and more.
Let’s get started!
What is VirtualWealth?
Qtrade Guided Portfolios (formerly VirtualWealth) is a robo advisor of Aviso Wealth that offers active investing solutions to Canadian investors.
As the trade name of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc, VirtualWealth offers low-cost ETF portfolios that are diversified and invested across different companies in the world.
Unlike many other robo advisors that strictly invest your funds with a passive investing strategy, VirtualWealth employs an active investing strategy in managing your investment.
As a result, VirtualWealth has a team of investment professionals to ensure you get the best of your automated investment.
With a wide range of investment accounts and portfolios, VirtualWealth has positioned itself as one of the best robo advisors in Canada for investors looking for hands-off investing without the high fees.
Who Owns Virtual Wealth?
VirtualWealth is owned by one of the top financial institutions in Canada known as Aviso Wealth. The company has $100 billion in assets under management and administration, 300 partners and over 25 years of experience in wealth management.
In addition to VirtualWealth, Aviso Wealth also offers the following products and services:
- Investment dealer services
- Online Brokerage (through Qtrade)
- Investment Solutions (through NEI Investments)
- Correspondent & Institutional
That said, Aviso Wealth is jointly owned by three firms namely Desjardins, Credit Union Centrals, and CUMIS.
With this collaboration, Aviso is able to provide unique wealth management solutions to independent financial organizations and virtually all the credit unions in Canada.
How Does VirtualWealth Work?
As a robo advisor, VirtualWealth works in three broad steps for both its ETF and Responsible Investing portfolios.
- Investor’s Questionaire: The first step involves signing up on the robo advisor and completing a questionnaire about your investment objective, risk tolerance, time horizon, and other personal information.
- Account Funding: Once your application is approved, you can then proceed to fund your account through electronic funds transfer, bill payment or cash transfer from your external investment account.
- Portfolio Management: If you deposit up to the required minimum balance of $2,000, VirtualWealth will take it from there and invest your funds in one of its portfolios that suits your situation.
The last step involves a number of tasks that are all managed by VirtualWealth on your behalf. These include investing your funds, monitoring the performance, rebalancing and many more.
Should your situation change in the future, you can inform the robo advisor and have your investment portfolio changed.
The interesting part is that VirtualWealth has professional portfolio managers that are available to oversee and rebalance your portfolio regularly. This helps you reap the benefit of robo advising while enjoying the extra confidence that comes with the human touch.
Is VirtualWealth Safe?
VirtualWealth is completely safe and a legit investing platform in Canada! This robo advisor complies with the industry’s best practices because it is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
Investments on VirtualWealth are covered up to $1 million per insured account by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). In addition, your personal information on VirtualWealth is protected with multiple security measures, including 256-bit encryption and strong firewalls.
Finally, the fact that VirtualWealth is owned by a leading financial institution with $100 billion in assets under management should give you a sense of safety.
VirtualWealth ETF Portfolios
VirtualWealth invests funds in low-cost ETFs consisting of Canadian, US and international stocks and bonds. Below are the current ETF portfolios of VirtualWealth and their assets allocations.
|Income portfolio||80% fixed income and 20% equity|
|Income & growth portfolio||65% fixed income and 35% equity|
|Balanced portfolio||50% fixed income and 50% equity|
|Growth & Income portfolio||65% equity and 35% fixed income|
|Growth portfolio||80% equity and 20% fixed income|
|Maximum growth portfolio||100% equity|
Depending on your risk tolerance, VirtualWealth will automatically invest your funds in one of the above ETF portfolios.
That being said, the VirtualWealth ETF portfolios are built using the following underlying assets on Canadian and US markets as of the time of writing.
|iShares Global REIT ETF||REET|
|iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF||IXUS|
|iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF||IEMG|
|iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF||ITOT|
|iShares Core MSCI EAFE IMI Index ETF||XEF|
|Vanguard FTSE Canada All Cap Index ETF||VCN|
|Vanguard Canadian Aggregate Bond Index ETF||VAB|
|Vanguard U.S. Aggregate Bond Index ETF (CAD-hedged)||VBU|
|Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Aggregate Bond Index ETF (CAD-hedged)||VBG|
|FlexShares STOXX Global Broad Infrastructure Index ETF||NFRA|
VirtualWealth Responsible Investing
Besides traditional ETF portfolios, VirtualWealth also offers Responsible Investing (RI) portfolios that cater to investors looking to invest in companies that adhere to environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.
The VirtualWealth RI portfolios have the same sub-portfolios and assets allocations as the above ETF portfolios. However, the RI portfolios help you invest sustainably while reducing risks.
As a result, RI portfolios don’t invest in companies that are involved in weapons, nuclear power and tobacco activities.
VirtualWealth has RI fund managers in place who identify and work with environmental, social and governance-compliant companies across boards.
As of the time of writing, the robo advisor has the following funds as underlying assets under the RI portfolios.
- NEI Canadian Bond Fund
- NEI Canadian Equity RS Fund
- NEI U.S. Equity RS Fund
- NEI International Equity RS Fund
- NEI Global Total Return Bond Fund
While the VirtualWealth RI portfolios have the same management fee as the traditional ETF portfolios, they have a relatively high management expense ratio (MER) of 0.72% to 0.96%.
VirtualWealth Investment Accounts
You can have your funds invested in stocks, bonds and mutual funds on VirtualWealth through the following registered and non-registered accounts.
- RRSP (including spousal RRSP)
With this collection of investment accounts, you have the flexibility of diversifying your investment across different account types.
Next in this VirtualWealth review, let’s look at the fees and pricing of the robo-advisor. Like other robo advisors, VirtualWealth has a management fee and MER.
While the management fee is calculated monthly and charged quarterly, the first quarter fee is waived.
Below are the VirtualWealth management fees for ETF and RI portfolios.
|Initial $2,000 – $100,000||0.60%|
|More than $1 million||0.35%|
The VirtualWealth fees are charged based on the aggregated value of all your individual VirtuWealth accounts.
In addition, if any of your households have a VirtualWealth account, the robo advisor will combine its value with yours to determine how much you’ll pay. This will also reduce your quarterly management fee.
That said, the management expense ratio (MER) on each of the VirtualWealth portfolios vary and are extra fees on top of the management fees charged directly by VirtualWealth.
The MERs are charged by the underlying investment companies that manage the individual ETFs and funds. The current MERs are:
- ETF portfolios: Below 0.15%
- RI portfolios: 0.72%-0.96
Besides management fees and MERs, VirtualWealth also charges other service fees as you can see below:
|Closing account within one year||$100|
|Cheque requests||$10 per request|
|Electronic funds transfers||$0|
|Paper trade confirmation requests||$2.50 per trade|
|Paper statement requests||$6 per request|
|Account transfer out||$150 (for partial and full transfer)|
|Account estate settlement||$250|
|Registered account full deregistration of a registered account||$125|
|Registered account partial deregistration (excluding RESP and TFSA)||$250|
VirtualWealth Pros and Cons
VirtualWealth has its benefits and drawbacks just like any other robo advisor in Canada. Let’s take a closer look at the major pros and cons below.
- Diversification: VirtualWealth invests in diversified portfolios of low-cost ETFs across Canadian, the US and international markets. It also diversifies across different industries, sectors and company sizes to give you the best returns.
- Multiple accounts: From RRSP, RESP, and TFSA, to cash accounts, VirtualWealth supports a wide range of registered and non-registered accounts for all your investment needs.
- Professional portfolio managers: Your investment in VirtualWealth is actively managed by professional portfolio managers that are dedicated to helping you achieve your goal.
- Automated contributions: By allowing you to make automatic contributions to your portfolio, VirtualWealth helps you focus on other areas of your life by saving you from all the commitments of investing.
- High fees: VirtualWealth’s management fees are relatively higher than the ones charged by other robo-advisors.
- Minimum investment requirement: While there is no minimum amount required to open a VirtualWealth account, you need to have a $2,000 minimum balance to start investing on the robo advisor.
- Limited information: Unlike other robo advisors, VirtualWealth doesn’t display information about its portfolio performance or returns. This makes it difficult to compare its performance to its peers.
Is VirtualWealth For You?
By now you might have made your own judgment about VirtualWealth based on the above information.
But whether you’ve made up your mind or not, it’s essential to know the type of investors that VirtualWealth is ideal for.
Reflecting on our VirtualWealth review so far, it’s obvious that robo advisor is more suitable for:
- Investors looking for a robo advisor with an active investing strategy.
- Investors looking for diversified ETF portfolios without minding fees and minimum balance.
- Investors looking to invest in Responsible Investing portfolios.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a robo advisor with a passive investing strategy, low fees and no minimum investment requirement, you have to look elsewhere.
The ball is now on your court to decide!
But if VirtualWealth is perfect for you, proceed to the next section to learn about the signing processes. If the reverse is the case, kindly jump to the “VirtualWealth alternatives” section below.
How to Open a VirtualWealth Account
You can open a VirtualWealth account online or through the VirtualWealth mobile app available on Google Playstore and App Store.
The registration process is simple! At the initial stage, you will be required to provide your full name, email address and password to proceed with the registration.
Subsequently, you will be required to complete a questionnaire about your investment objective, risk tolerance, time horizon, and other personal information to match you with a perfect portfolio.
After completing the registration process and having your account approved, you can then fund your account with a minimum of $2,000 to start investing through VirtuWealth.
If you have any concerns or questions along the way, you can contact VirtualWealth customer support at [email protected] or call them at 1.844.622.4500 (toll-free).
VirtualWealth is just one out of the dozens of robo advisors in Canada. For obvious reasons, Wealthsimple Invest and Questrade’s Questwealth Portfolios appear to be some of the top alternatives to VirtualWealth.
Let’s take a closer look at how VirtualWealth compares with Wealthsimple Invest and Questwealth Portfolios.
VirtualWealth vs Wealthsimple Invest
|Key Feature||VirtualWealth||Wealthsimple Invest|
|Minimum investment account||$2,000||None|
|Portfolios||Income, income & growth, balanced portfolio, growth & balanced, growth and maximum growth, and RI portfolios||Conservative, balanced, growth, Halal and SRI portfolios|
|Investment accounts||TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LRSP, LIRA, RLSP and cash accounts||TFSA, RESP, RRSP, RRIF, LIRA, personal, joint, & business accounts|
|Management fee||0.35% – 0.60% (first quarter fee waiver)||0.4% – 0.5%|
|ETF MER||Below 0.15%||0.13% – 0.16%|
Both VirtualWealth and Wealthsimple Invest are among the Canadian top robo advisors regulated by the IIROC with CIPF coverage.
Like VirtualWealth, Wealthsimple Invest also caters to investors looking to invest in sustainable investing portfolios (ESG or SRI).
However, the two robo advisors differ considerably as you can see from the above table. While VirtualWealth uses an active investing strategy, Wealthsimple Invest uses a passive investing strategy.
With Wealthsimple Invest, you can start investing with as little as $1 or any amount you have but you can’t do the same on VirtualWealth as it requires a $2,000 minimum investment balance.
While VirtualWealth has a relatively higher management fee than Wealthsimple Invest, its MERs are relatively lower.
With impressive portfolio returns, you can count on Wealthsimple Invest as your best alternative to VirtualWealth.
Learn more: Wealthsimple Invest Review
VirtualWealth vs Questwealth Portfolios
|Minimum investment account||$2,000||$1,000|
|Portfolios||Income, income & growth, balanced portfolio, growth & balanced, growth and maximum growth, and RI portfolios||Income, growth, aggressive growth, balanced, conservative income, and SRI portfolios|
|Investment accounts||TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LRSP, LIRA, RLSP and cash accounts||TFSA, RESP, RRSP, RIF, LIF, LIRA, cash & corporate cash accounts|
|Management fee||0.35% – 0.60% (first quarter fee waiver)||0.20% – 0.25%|
|ETF MER||Below 0.15%||0.17% – 0.22%|
Both VirtualWealth and Questwealth Portfolios use active investing strategies. Also, both robo advisors require a minimum investment balance at varying rates as you can see from the above table.
In addition, both VirtualWealth and Questwealth support sustainable investing portfolios known as ESG and SRI portfolios.
That said, the two robo advisors differ on various grounds ranging from management fees, MERs, and investment accounts.
Overall, Questwealth Portfolios outshines VirtualWealth in terms of lower minimum investment requirement and lower management fees. And with the opportunity to build a self-directed portfolio on the same platform, Questwealth is a more versatile platform.
That said, you can’t make the wrong choice with either VirtualWealth or Questwealth Portfolios so far you choose the one that suits your needs and situation.
Learn more: Questwealth Portfolios Review
Verdict on VirtualWealth Review
Robo advisors continue to attract public attention as one of the best alternative investment platform for modern investing. If you decide to go with this investment option, there are several options to choose from in Canada.
But overall, this VirtualWealth review is mixed. While it offers several portfolios that satisfy different risk appetite and also provides Responsible Investment portfolio options, its fees and minimum investment amount are relatively higher than some of its peers.
If the drawbacks are not an issue for you, then you’ll find the VirtualWealth platform a worthwhile robo-advisory service.
Whether you’re going with VirtualWealth, Wealthsimple Invest, Questwealth Portfolios or one of the best robo advisors in Canada, consider your unique needs before making a decision.
VirtualWealth is a robo advisor service from Aviso Wealth that offers active investing solutions to Canadian investors. It offers low-cost ETF portfolios that are invested across different companies in the world.