Qtrade Guided Portfolios Review

Qtrade Guided Portfolios Review
  • Investment Strategy
  • User Experience
  • Fees and Costs vs Mutual Funds
  • Safety
  • Socially Responsible Investing
  • Mobile App
  • Customer Service
  • Simplicity & Ease of Use
4.8

Qtrade Guided Portfolios Summary:

Our Qtrade Guided Portfolios review takes a look at what happens when the leading online brokerage provider in Canada decides to create a robo advisor.

This review shouldn’t be confused with our Qtrade review for their online brokerage platform – which is what Qtrade has been primarily known for in the past. Qtrade Guided Portfolios are the 2022 update to the former VirtualWealth platform – and are a massive leap forward.

In short – we think it’s yet another great product developed by a great company.

Perhaps the best argument for Qtrade Guided Portfolios is that they are now widely used by credit unions across Canada! Credit unions are amongst the most trusted and personal of financial companies in the country, so if they are guiding their customers to Qtrade Portfolios, it means a lot.

Pros

  • Excellent use of index investing
  • 75% cheaper than Canadian mutual funds
  • Very user friendly – simple interface
  • Quick and easy setup
  • Elite customer service
  • Trusted by credit unions across Canada
  • Free trial available

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than using the Qtrade online broker
  • Not a “trader app” – you’re looking for an online brokerage if that’s what you want. Qtrade Guided Portfolios is a robo advisor product designed for easy hands-off investing

What is Qtrade Guided Portfolios? (Formerly VirtualWealth)

Qtrade Guided Portfolios is the new robo advisor put out by our #1 rated online brokerage company.

Much like other robo advisors, the Qtrade Guided Portfolios mission is to:

  • Use index investing (aka: passive investing) to help Canadians invest smarter.
  • Make it as easy as possible to get started and then turn part of your paycheque into a diversified investment portfolio each month.
  • Cut costs down to roughly a quarter of what Canadian mutual funds charge.
  • Make sure that you are invested in investments that make sense for your personal risk profile and unique investor mindset.

The folks behind Qtrade Guided Portfolios are Aviso Wealth. Aviso is a national financial services company that works with businesses and individuals in a wide variety of ways. 

By combining their expertise from their Qtrade online brokerage arm, with the NEI investments wing of the company, and their credit union-level experience with individual investors, they were able to create a superb overall investing option for Canadians.

How is Qtrade Guided Portfolios Different from the Qtrade Discount Brokerage?

The difference between the Qtrade Invest Discount Brokerage platform and Qtrade Guided Portfolios is that one is a DIY online broker, while the other is a robo advisor.

The two platforms share the following characteristics:

  • Low Cost
  • Much better than advisor + mutual fund models
  • Available to Canadian investors
  • Perfect for ETF investors

But there are some key differences as well.  Robo advisors are aimed at customers who want the following:

1) A super easy hand’s off way to invest their money.  

2) No need to look at stock market reports or learn confusing investing terminology.

3) Embrace “index investing” (aka “couch potato investing” or “passive investing”) and just want a simple way to diversify their investments.

4) Just need a little help getting everything set up so that it is quick, stress-free, and efficient.

While DIY online brokerages are aimed primarily at investors who want to cut costs to the bone, trade individual stocks, and are ready to go their own way without additional help.

Qtrade Online Broker

Qtrade Guided Portfolios

Best For

DIY Investing

Hands-off Index Investing

Time Commitment and Effort Level

Highly variable. You need to understand how to buy and sell securities on stock exchanges.
Minimal. Less than 10 minutes per year.

Cost 

  • Charged per transaction

  • $7.95 per trade

  • Free ETF trades

  • Charged as a percentage of your portfolio

  • .35-.60% MER  (compared to 2.5% MER for comparable mutual funds)

Rebalancing for Your Risk Level

Need to decide and calculate on your own.
Done for you after an initial consultation.

RRSP + TFSA + RESP

Yes!
Yes!

Investing Style

Very Flexible. Can use ETFs to passively invest. Can buy and sell individual stocks, bonds, commodities, etc. Can buy and sell options.

The easiest way to turn part of your pay cheque into an excellent investment portfolio.


Ultimate option for user friendliness.

Promo

50 Free Trades (Worth $500)

Free Trial + $150 in Transfer Fees

Sign Up

Is Qtrade Guided Portfolios Safe?

Yes, Qtrade Guided Portfolios are very safe. They are part of the Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. This corporate entity is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), which regulates Canadian banking entities. In other words, Qtrade has to play by the same rules as RBC, BMO, TD etc.  

The CIPF has a coverage policy that protects each account an investor has up to $1 Million.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that no coverage exists for poor investments decisions. Qtrade Guided Portfolios are safe in terms of protection from fraud, or anything business-wise happening to the company – but no investment platform can guarantee investment returns.

Qtrade Guided Portfolio Costs and Fees

One thing I really like about Qtrade Guided Portfolios is the simplicity of their fee structure.  

Qtrade Guided Portfolios charges you a fixed percentage of your portfolio. Here’s how Qtrade explains it in their own words:

qtrade portfolios fees

A few additional points to note about Qtrade Guided Portfolios costs and fees.

  • GST is of course added.
  • If you use Guided Portfolios as a non-registered account, the fees are tax deductible.
  • There are no transaction costs when your account is automatically rebalanced.
  • Admin fees to apply to unique requests such as transferring out or closing an account.

Overall, these costs are very competitive with Canada’s other robo advisors.

How do The Qtrade Guided Portfolios Invest with ETFs?

Qtrade Guided Portfolios use a nobel-prize winning strategy known as passive investing. Some experts have also called this type of investing “couch potato investing” or “index investing.

The idea behind the strategy is essentially:  Look, it’s really hard to pick stocks that do better than average. There are so many rich smart people with supercomputers that are trying to pick the better stocks – you’re better off not trying to compete with them.  

Instead, you’re way better off to just spread your money out across a bunch of companies in the world – in fact, why not ALL the publicly listed companies in the world?  

Once you have done that, you can take away some of the risk of your portfolio by purchasing government bonds. These are ultra-safe investments that pay small amounts of interest. The ETF VAB for insurance is packed with municipal bonds, provincial bonds, federal bonds, and a few blue chip company bonds (think RBC or Bell). You get all of these bonds in one convenient package.

What Qtrade Guided Portfolios does is take the following ETFs:

  • FlexShares STOXX Global Broad Infrastructure Index ETF (NFRA)
  • iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF (ITOT)
  • iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF (IXUS)
  • iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG)
  • iShares Core MSCI EAFE IMI Index ETF (XEF)
  • iShares Global REIT ETF (REET)
  • Vanguard Canadian Aggregate Bond Index ETF (VAB)
  • Vanguard FTSE Canada All Cap Index ETF (VCN)
  • Vanguard U.S. Aggregate Bond Index ETF (CAD-hedged) (VBU)
  • Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Aggregate Bond Index ETF (CAD-hedged) (VBG)

And it uses them to quickly and efficiently diversify your retirement savings into buckets of stocks and bonds from around the world. You will get exactly the average of the return from these assets – minus the small fees.

Qtrade will decide how much of each ETF you should get based on an initial questionnaire, and possible follow up conversations in regards to your risk level. If one ETF is doing a lot better than another, Guided Portfolios will automatically rebalance your portfolio so you sell some of what is “at the top” and buy some of “what is at the bottom”.  In other words – buy low and sell high.

Depending on your risk tolerance and unique investing goals, Qtrade will recommend one of the following portfolios:

  • Income
  • Income & Growth
  • Balanced
  • Growth & Income
  • Growth
  • Maximum Growth

These portfolios are just different combinations of stocks and bonds.

For example the Balanced Portfolio would give you a portfolio of 50% bonds and 50% stocks. So half of your money would go to buy bond ETFs, and half would go to buy stock ETFs.  

Whereas the Maximum Growth portfolio would have no bonds, and be fully invested in stocks from around the world – using the ETFs listed above.

Qtrade Guided Portfolio Review: Investment Account Options

Qtraded Guided Portfolio Account options include all of the usual accounts that a Canadian investor would wish to use including:

  • RRSP
  • TFSA
  • RESP
  • Non-Registered (also known as “cash accounts”
  • Spousal RRSP
  • LRSP/LIRA

Basically, any way you want to save and invest, they have you covered.

Qtrade Guided Portfolios Mobile App

While the Qtrade Guided Portfolios Mobile App is still too new to have ratings in the app stores, it appears that the same elite user experience which characterizes their brokerage app is being used here as well.

qtrade portfolios mobile app

Overall, the Guided Portfolio mobile app is minimalist and clearly communicates your index investing portfolio’s performance.

Qtrade Guided Portfolios Review: Responsible Investing

Qtrade Guided Portfolios offers a responsible investing option through their RI portfolios.  These portfolios are crafted by taking into account companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.

Because Qtrade’s parent company owns a wide range of financial brands, they have chose to use their sister company, NEI investments, to supply the ETFs for the Qtrade Guided Responsible Investing Portfolios.

  • NEI Canadian Bond Fund
  • NEI U.S. Equity RS Fund
  • NEI Global Total Return Bond Fund
  • NEI International Equity RS Fund
  • NEI Canadian Equity RS Fund

Because of the extra calculations needed to create these unique ETF products, there is a higher MER of .72%-.96% associated with ESG-related portfolio products.

Qtrade Guided Portfolios Review: Final Word

At the end of the day, VirtualWealth was beyond due for an update, and Qtrade Guided Portfolios is an excellent hands-off robo advisor option for Canadian investors.

Guided Portfolios are a safe, simple, and elegant portfolio solution. The only real question left is whether you want to invest the time and effort into embracing a DIY broker option, or the ultimate in worry-free portfolio creation from Qtrade.

FT

FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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