Wealthsimple Review 2024
- Investment Strategy
- Website and Mobile Usability
- Fees & Costs vs Mutual Funds
- Halal & Socially Responsible Investing Options
- Advice and Personal Finance Help
Wealthsimple Review Summary:
Look – Here’s the deal. You want the simplest, easiest way to get started with investing?
That’s Wealthsimple Invest.
This Wealthsimple Review has a ton of content (as I have answered a lot of questions about Wealthsimple over the last nine years) – but the TLDR is: Ignore the noise, explore the rest of the platform at your own pace, just get started with Wealthsimple Invest if you want a really good auto-pilot solution to investing.
The reasons I’ve placed Wealthsimple Invest ahead of the other Best Robo Advisors in Canada: Simplicity, low fees, excellent desktop, and a great mobile app experience. Now… the rest of the Wealthsimple platform, I’m not in love with – as you’ll see below.
- No account minimum and very low fees overall
- Easy and quick to set up
- Highest safety and security standards
- Market leader with more than $8bn under management
- Overwhelmingly positive response from customers
- User friendly platform and mobile app
- $50 cash bonus Promo Code available*
- Robo advisors are not the optimal solution for large portfolios.
- Qtrade discount broker is better for DIY traders and has lower fees than any robo advisor including Wealthsimple.
What is Wealthsimple?
Wealthsimple was founded back in 2014 by Michael Katchen, Brett Huneycutt and Rudy Adler. I gotta say that I really liked the company even more in its first few years than in its current iteration.
For the first five years of its existence, Wealthsimple was solely focused on the product that is now known as Wealthsimple Invest. Some people called this a “robo advisor,” others called it a “automated wealth manager” – whatever you wanted to call it, Wealthsimple’s first creation did the following:
- Took your money and efficiently invested in a portfolio of passively-managed index ETFs.
- Snagged very little of your money compared to Canada’s mutual fund industry.
- Gave investors an insanely-easy way of getting started in investing – and staying committed through an automated contribution every month.
Those three bullet points sound simple – but they’re not.
And they are massively consequential for the average investor!
These days Wealthsimple has added on a lot of features such as an online brokerage, cryptocurrency trading, private equity options, and many other products. I’m not such a fan of all these other bells and whistles – but at its core the company still has a solid product with Wealthsimple Invest.
Wealthsimple has now grown to manage over $30 Billion in assets under management. It briefly expanded into the UK and USA – but has since sold off those subsidiaries and focuses exclusively on the Canadian market.
The Wealthsimple platform now includes services such as tax preparation (Wealthsimple Tax review), cryptocurrency exchange (Wealthsimple Crypto review) and a discount online brokerage option: Wealthsimple Trade. It’s important to note that Wealthsimple Invest is not the same as Wealthsimple Trade. Wealthsimple Invest is the robo advisor service, while Wealthsimple Trade is its DIY online discount brokerage.
The Team Behind Wealthsimple
As mentioned above, robo advisors are backed by financial experts who create and monitor the algorithms. Wealthsimple is committed to recruiting the best and the brightest, with former Amazon, Google and Apple employees at the helm. Additionally, there are financial experts to reach out to with any customer service inquiries or, even for financial advice.
Robo advisors have gained traction over the past decade as the public gains more trust in the process. While Wealthsimple started out as the first and only robo advisor service in Canada, many brokerages have followed suit. While Wealthsimple does have more competition nowadays, it maintains its reputation as a leader in the robo advisor world.
To top it off, it is primarily owned by Power Corp (one of Canada’s oldest and most valuable Canadian financial companies) which has a 77.4% invested stake in Wealthsimple. This says a lot about its staying power, and its credibility.
Is Wealthsimple as Safe as Any Banking and Investment Option in Canada?
Yes – Wealthsimple is safe, and its protection against fraud and cyber attacks are as solid as any bank, robo advisor, or brokerage in Canada.
Obviously, as an online financial service company Wealthsimple takes safety and security extremely seriously.
Wealthsimple uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption. TLS is the successor to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption and is widely regarded as the gold standard for securing data transmitted over the internet. TLS encryption works by establishing a secure, encrypted connection between the user’s device and Wealthsimple’s servers. This means that any information sent from your device to Wealthsimple, such as personal details, login credentials, and financial transactions, is encrypted during transit. Even if intercepted, this data would be extremely difficult for unauthorized parties to decrypt and understand.
With features like two-factor authentication (2FA), the platform adds an extra layer of defense, making it exponentially harder for unwanted guests to access your account. It’s like having a double-locked door where the second key changes every time you want to enter. Moreover, Wealthsimple’s vigilance against fraud extends to constant monitoring and verification of transactions.
In addition to these layers of Cybersecurity, Wealthsimple Invest customer accounts are also protected by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund up to $1 million.
If you’re worried about the company as a whole you can rest easy knowing:
- Wealthsimple is owned by Power Corporation of Canada (one of the largest companies in Canada).
- Your assets are kept separate from Wealthsimple’s bank sheet. In other words, even if somehow, some way, Wealthsimple wanted to take your assets for their own use, that’s not possible.
- Finally, Wealthsimple falls under the purview of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), ensuring they play by the rules (even if those rules could probably be made a bit better).
Wealthsimple Investing Approach
A robo advisor service is one that essentially does all of the investing legwork work for you using the expertise of its team. It’s a purely passive investment strategy that you won’t have to spend any time at all managing. Some refer to this as “couch potato” investing.
Active investing, on the other hand, means that you would be the one buying, selling, rebalancing and managing it all. Stock picking for example would fit under the definition of active management.
Not only will you be passively investing with ultimate ease using a robo advisor service, but your portfolio will also be highly diversified. This is because each portfolio is made up of a variety of ETFs, as well as bonds. ETFs allow you to invest across geographic areas and sectors, all in one low-cost package.
Let’s say you invest $100 into your Wealthsimple account to get started, and since you’ve got a long time horizon and a higher tolerance for risk, you have chosen the Growth Portfolio. This means $70-$90 will go directly to purchasing 8-10 ETFs such as Horizon’s S&P (HXT), Vanguard FTSE All Cap Index ETF (VCN), and Schwab US Broad Market ETF (SCHB).
Together, this gives you access to thousands of securities, making for outstanding diversification. The remaining $30-$10 will go directly to purchasing a range of bond ETFs, such as BMO Long Federal Bond Index ETF (ZFL) and Horizons Canadian Select Universe Bond ETF (HBB), giving you broad exposure in the bond market. All of this will be done for you automatically, according to the particular portfolio you’ve chosen.
Wealthsimple’s robo advisor service utilizes cutting edge fintech to manage your portfolio, including automatic rebalancing, automatic dividend investment and tax-loss harvesting. If you are a beginner investor, Wealthsimple makes it super easy to get started, as well as to maintain your account. For those that would like a more hands on approach, Wealthsimple Trade allows you to manage your own investment account, buying and selling as you please.
Wealthsimple Invest Accounts
Wealthsimple invest offers Canadians the ability to easily put money into the following types of accounts:
- Cash Savings
- Joint Savings
No matter the size of your account, you’ll receive a free portfolio review of any non-Wealthsimple brokerage accounts, reap the benefits of automatic tax-loss harvesting (which aids in minimizing your tax liability), access to fractional share investing, options for making Socially Responsible Investments (SRIs), coverage of up to $150 in transfer fees for transfers over $5,000 to your Wealthsimple account from another investment account, and free money saving tools.
Wealthsimple Core vs Premium vs Generation
As you can see below, Wealthsimple Invest places you into one of three tiers – Core, Premium, Generation – based on the amount of money that you invest with them.
|Cash Account Interest
|Options Trading Fee
|Crypto Trading Fee
|Goal setting with an advisor
|Comprehensive financial plan, dedicated advisor team
|Tax Loss Harvesting
|Private Equity Access
|Included for qualified clients
With Wealthsimple Core, you only need $1 to start, making it perfect for beginners. Your Core account will get you a personalized portfolio based on your responses to the initial assessment you’ll take part in when you sign up. After you choose your portfolio, you can literally set it and forget it with auto-investing. Wealthsimple will take care of the rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting, and dividend reinvestment too.
Don’t worry, they won’t leave you hanging if you have questions or want more advice as you go along, as you will have access to expert financial advice when you need it. You’ll get all of these features at a low 0.5% management fee.
When your account reaches $100,000, you’ll move up into Wealthsimple Premium, which gives you everything the Core tier has and more. The great thing is, you won’t have to pay more to get the extras Premium offers, in fact, you’ll pay less at 0.4% in management fees.
At this level, you can really start to maximize your tax efficiency with tax-efficient funds in addition to tax-loss harvesting. You’ll also receive a free session with an experienced financial planner, helping you to create the investment strategy that is right for you.
On top of that, you’ll get 15% off Estate planning with Willful, so you can rest assured that your money will go where you want it to, no matter what happens. If you live in Ontario, you’ll also get a free 6 months of free health and wellness services with Medcan.
With the top tier account, Wealthsimple Generation, account holders that have $500,000 or more in their account will get the gold standard in terms of features offered at a low 0.4% management fee. Investors with over $10 million in assets can access a further reduced fee of 0.2%
Generation features include a dedicated team of financial advisors that are only an email away, a personal financial report that breaks down your investment strategy and the potential rewards it could reap, personalized portfolios with bespoke asset allocations that maximize tax savings, and 15% off estate planning with Willful. Ontario residents will also receive 50% off Medcan’s Comprehensive Care Plan.
Additional Wealthsimple Features
Wealthsimple is a one stop financial shop. In addition to low-cost robo advisor services, Wealthsimple also offers free trading on its platform Wealthsimple Trade for DIY investors, as well as Wealthsimple Crypto for those keen on getting their foot into the cryptocurrency game.
For those looking for more traditional money management tools, Wealthsimple also offers Wealthsimple Cash account, a high interest savings account currently offering an eye-popping 4% interest rate (higher for Premium and Generation clients) as well as 1% cashback on their associated prepayment card.
As mentioned above, the account fees depend on what level of account you have, as well as the type of portfolio you end up with. Check out the key facts below.
- Core, holding up to $99,999: 0.5%
- Premium, holding more than $100,000: 0.4%
- Generation, holding above $500,000: 0.4% (0.2% for investors with over $10M in assets)
If you decide to go the robo advisor route, which is definitely a wise choice, there will be additional fees for each of the ETFs in your portfolio. The fees come in the form of MERs, or Management Expense Ratios. These fees are again straightforward and very low.
- Regular ETF MERs: Approximately 0.12-0.15% annually
- Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) MERs: 0.21-0.23% annually
Wealthsimple Portfolio Options
Wealthsimple Invest has three portfolio options. Within these three portfolios – called: Conservative, Balanced, and Growth – your money will actually be put into several ETFs. There are also Halal and SRI portfolios, which will discuss in just a second.
For now, we’ll look at the three main types of portfolios and how they have performed since inception.
With Wealthsimple’s Conservative Portfolio, your portfolio will be made up of approximately 35% equities and 62.50% bonds – with 2.50% gold allocation tossed in as well. This means you’ll be somewhat shielded from market volatility, but will likely experience slower growth. This is a good choice if you have a very low risk tolerance.
This portfolio has grown at an average annualized return of 2.50% since its inception on January 1st, 2016.
Wealthsimple Invest’s Balanced Portfolio is designed for both safety against volatility while providing a greater opportunity for growth. This portfolio is made up of 60% equities, 37% bonds, and 3% gold. This is suitable for investors with a medium risk tolerance.
This portfolio has grown at an average annualized return of 4.40% since its inception on January 1st, 2016.
With Wealthsimple’s growth portfolio, the asset allocation heavily favors equities. The portfolio is made up of 80% equities, 17.5% bonds, and 3% gold. As there will likely be more market volatility experienced by investors in this portfolio, this is best suited for the investor with a higher risk tolerance, as well as a longer time horizon.
This portfolio has grown at an average annualized return of 6.5% since its inception on January 1st, 2016.
Wealthsimple Portfolio Investment Returns Explained
We’ve included information about Wealthsimple’s portfolio performance because people ask about it all the time…but we’re going to be brutally honest: when you’re shopping around for a robo advisor, returns really aren’t a relevant data point to consider.
Every robo advisor uses passively managed portfolios of ETFs. ETFs are index funds: collections of diversified stocks and bonds that replicate the performance of a particular market niche. So when the market goes up, their value goes up and when the market goes down…you get the idea.
While a robo advisor like Wealthsimple will periodically rebalance your accounts to make sure your portfolio still reflects your desired risk level and timeline, your assets aren’t being actively supervised at all times (which, believe it or not, can be a good thing!). Wealthsimple isn’t affecting the total value of your portfolio—the market is.
That’s why you’re better off considering other metrics like fees, account options, user friendliness, and customer service when you’re comparing robo advisors. In other words, all the other information we cover in this article (you’re welcome).
If you’d like more information about passive investing with ETFs, check out our article about the Best All-in-One ETFs in Canada. It not only gives details about specific ETF options but also digs into why you’re likely better off letting a robo advisor like Wealthsimple Invest passively manage your portfolio for you.
Wealthsimple’s ETF Asset Classes
Wealthsimple’s ETF asset allocation follows the sound principle of diversification, and each ETF includes 8-10 holdings, some of which are shown below. The result is a well-balanced portfolio with a wide-range of holdings to mitigate risk while giving you a great shot at growing your investment.
The makeup of how many of each ETF you’ll have in your portfolio depends on your investment goals, strategy, and timeline.
|Mackenzie Canadian Equity Index ETF
|Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF
|Mackenzie US Large Cap Index ETF
|Vanguard US Total Market Index ETF
|iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol Global ETF
|Global Min-Vol Stocks
|iShares Core MSCI IEFA ETF
|BMO MSCI EAFE ETF
|iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF
|Emerging Market Min-Vol Stocks
|BMO Long Federal Bond Index ETF
|Canadian Long-Term Government Bonds
|SPDR Gold MiniShares Trust
|Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta World Low Vol Plus Equity ETF
|Global Low-Vol Stocks
|BMO Aggregate Bond Index ETF
|Canadian Bond Aggregate
|BMO Short Corporate Bond Index ETF
|Short-term Canadian Credit
Wealthsimple Socially Responsible and Halal Investing
Investors may also be interested to know that Wealthsimple offers Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) as well. Socially responsible investing is becoming more and more popular these days, especially among millennials.
To clarify, socially responsible investing is a type of investing that allows you to put your money towards companies and businesses that align with your environmental and social values. A Wealthsimple SRI portfolio will include Wealthsimple’s own socially responsible ETFs:
- WSRI (US and Canadian stocks)
- WSRD (European, Asian, and Australian stocks)
- WSGB (Green and social bonds that provide fixed income while funding projects that further social and environmental causes)
As well as BMO’s Long Federal Bond Index ETF (ZFL) and the SPDR Gold Minishares Trust ETF (GLDM).
on top of socially responsible investing, Wealthsimple also offers Halal Investing. This portfolio is optimized for performance by using companies that align with Islamic law. This means no businesses that profit from gambling, weapons, tobacco, or other restricted industries.
Additionally, this type of investing will not include any businesses that obtain a significant percentage of their income from interest on loans. All investments are screened by a group of Shariah scholars to ensure that they are up to the expected standards.
Wealthsimple RRSP Accounts and TFSA Accounts
Most Canadians are just looking for the easiest way to invest money within a registered account. It is incredibly simple to open a Wealthsimple RRSP, TFSA, or RESP account. It can be done completely online, is almost instant, and after hooking up your chequing or savings account, you can conveniently set up an automatic contribution that puts your savings on autopilot.
No more worrying about RRSP season and last minute investment decisions. Just a safe, simple, proven investment strategy that you can set and forget about until you’re ready to make a large-scale change. While Wealthsimple obviously offers a wide variety of accounts, these three registered accounts represent the total investing activity for many Canadians, and are a main focus for Wealthsimple.
If you have any questions about how the Wealthsimple RRSP or TFSA work, their online chat feature (or their old school phone assistance) will be able to efficiently answer any questions you might have about where to contribute or how to use the platform.
About the only questions their first line of assistance might struggle with is in-depth niche topic help for something like investment trusts. (If you don’t know what an investment trust is, don’t be alarmed – it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever need to.)
Wealthsimple User Experience
To get started with Wealthsimple you can have an online, email, or phone discussion with an advisor to discuss what they think is the best option for you taking into consideration your goals and risk tolerance.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, remember that the Wealthsimple representative you are speaking to is an advisor and while they may not be able to answer everything off their head (mainly when it comes down to the more detailed, complex questions), they will answer your questions with your best interests at hand.
After getting started, you can execute everything through their site or through the Wealthsimple mobile app.
Wealthsimple Mobile App
Speaking of the Wealthsimple App, it’s actually pretty amazing. Launched in December of 2014, it was the first app of its kind; an app designed with the specific goal of making investing easier.
In 2019, Wealthsimple launched a separate Trade app for self-directed trading, but in 2022 they combined their Invest and Trade apps into a single Wealthsimple app yet again. (Want to know the differences between Wealthsimple Trade and Wealthsimple Invest? we’ve got all the details on our Wealthsimple Trade Review if you are keen to learn more about how they compare.)
Wealthsimple describes their app as having a ‘financial advisor in your pocket’. The app allows you to get in touch with your wealth concierge at the tap of a finger, plus you can easily add funds, keep an eye on your asset allocation, and view your performance.
On top of creating an easy and streamlined app, Wealthsimple also prioritizes privacy in their app. They go above the simple ‘create a password’ and allow users to use either a biometric login like FaceID or TouchID or set a unique 4 digit passcode (for iPhone) or lock pattern (for Android).
Currently the Wealthsimple app is rated a 4.5 on the Google Play store and a 4.6 on the Apple App store. Wealthsimple is constantly updating their app to try and improve functionality, which is great, but as with most apps, it can sometimes get buggy as a result.
How To Sign Up With Wealthsimple?
Just like the name indicates, signing up for an account on Wealthsimple is…simple. In just a few minutes, you’ll be set up, logged in, and ready to start building your investment fund.
First, make sure you qualify for a Wealthsimple Invest account (must be a Canadian citizen, Canadian resident, or have a Canadian visa, meet the age requirements of your province, etc.). If you meet the requirements, head over to the sign up page and fill in the required information.
Once you are logged in, you will provide a few more personal details as well as complete a questionnaire so your robo advisors can understand what portfolio allocation would be best for you.
Once your plan of action has been chosen, you’ll need to choose the account type, registered, non-registered, or transfer from another account.
Finally, you will choose whether or not to set up automatic contributions.
That’s it! You can make your first purchase and start seeing your wealth grow.
Is Wealthsimple the Best Robo Advisor? Our Expert Comparison
We are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting online brokerages, or even robo-advisor services, so it’s really important that we understand what makes each one unique. Here are some of Wealthsimple’s distinct selling points that are definitely worth considering when making the choice that is best for you and your situation.
- Wealthsimple’s sign up and portfolio creation process is comprehensive yet quick. You can set your risk tolerance right off the bat, ensuring the asset mix is just right for you.
- You won’t pay trading fees, only low management fees.
- There’s no account minimum.
- Wealthsimple offers a range of socially responsible and Halal portfolios.
- Wealthsimple’s advanced technology combined with its financial experts makes it one of the most reputable robo advisor services in the game.
- Wealthsimple makes investing super easy, so you can basically set it and forget it.
- Automatic rebalancing is a big plus. You won’t have to worry about buying and selling to make sure your portfolio has a healthy balance of holdings. It’s all done for you.
By now you are well aware of the many benefits of using Wealthsimple as your robo advisor, but no great review would be complete without a comparison chart. Let’s see how Wealthsimple stands up to its Canadian robo advisor peers.
|Minimum Account Balance
|0.4-0.5% + 0.12-0.23% MER
|Online and mobile app, SRIs, automatic rebalancing, access to financial experts
|0.2%-0.25% + 0.17%-0.35% MER
|$1, but you won’t be able to trade until it reaches $1,000
|Online and mobile app, SRIs, automatic rebalancing, low MER
|CI Direct Investing
|0.38%-0.60% + 0.17-0.23% MER
|Online and mobile app, automatic rebalancing, dedicated financial advisor
|0.5% (minimum $2.99/mo for RESPs, $4.99/mo for all others) + 0.2% (avg,) MER,
|$0 for RESPs, $5,000 for all others
|Online platform, managed by a dedicated team, automatic rebalancing,
|$20-$75 tiered, monthly flat rate fees ($5/mo minimum fee) + 0.13% (avg.) MER
|Online platform, one of the only robo advisors offering flat-rate monthly fees instead of MERs, automatic rebalancing
|0%-0.5%, 0.50%-0.75% MER
|Online platform, SRIs, access to customer service on-demand, automatic rebalancing
You can click on the links in the chart above to read our detailed reviews of Wealthsimple’s main competitors, or visit our best Canadian robo advisors page for a more in-depth comparison and see why we rank Wealthsimple at the top.
Wealthsimple Review – FAQ
Wealthsimple Review: Summary
There’s a lot to like about Wealthsimple Invest’s offerings, as you would expect from Canada’s largest robo advisor.
With its $0 minimum, free account transfer, low ETF and MER fees and easy to use platform, it’s an extremely accessible way to manage your investments. Plus, you can keep your registered and non-registered accounts in one place, adding even more convenience.
Wealthsimple is the quickest and simplest way to take a piece of your paycheque every month, and automatically invest it into a diversified portfolio of ETF options from around the world.
I love the investment strategy, I love the simplicity of it. The fact that you have access to financial experts to guide you, and perks like automatic rebalancing makes it even more attractive, especially if you are a new investor. If you think Wealthsimple Invest might be a good fit for your investment needs, they have a $50 promo to help you get started today.
If, on the other hand, you prefer the idea of being a true DIY investor, there are other options more suitable for you. Qtrade, for example, makes it possible for you to conduct research and much more to guide you in your own self-directed investment journey. If this appeals to you, head over to our full Qtrade Review to find out more.