Power Financial Corp., which has built an empire around financial planning and investment advice, is now plugging into the world of robots by investing up to $30-million in Wealthsimple Financial Inc.
The partnership of the robo-adviser firm and a major financial institution is the first of its kind in Canada. It will help Power Financial to target more millennials and other Canadians who are less likely to invest through traditional channels, and instead opt for low-cost robo-advisers that provide automated online portfolio management. Under the agreement, pending regulatory approval, Power Financial will initially invest $10-million into Wealthsimple, with an option to put in another $20-million over the next 12 months. Power Financial could potentially make further investments over the next three years under the deal.
"Wealthsimple provides financial advice to a number of Canadians who might not otherwise seek it, or have access to it," Stéphane Lemay, vice-president, general counsel, with Power Financial Corp., told The Globe and Mail in an e-mailed statement. "Technology can improve the client experience and adviser effectiveness, and so we should expect continued developments in this area in our industry."
Power Financial is a financial behemoth that consists of major players in the money-management landscape, including Great-West Lifeco Inc. and IGM Financial Inc. (which houses financial advisers in both Investors Group Inc. and Investment Planning Counsel). Mr. Lemay says it is too early to say how the existing businesses under the Power Financial name will interact with, or benefit, from Wealthsimple.
Wealthsimple launched its platform last September and is among a handful of robo-advisers operating in Canada.
The online management providers are growing in popularity with the allure of a low-cost portfolio option. Robo-advisers recommend investment portfolios by using an asset-allocation tool.
Based on age, financial goals and risk tolerance, clients receive a recommended investment portfolio predominantly made up of exchange-traded funds.
Wealthsimple will continue to run as an independent company, with Power Financial having an undisclosed percentage of ownership.
Wealthsimple has 1,000 clients on its platform. While founder and CEO Michael Katchen won't disclose the company's current assets under management, he says he is aiming to reach $2-billion over the next two years.
"This partnership is going to enable us to further develop our platform that we have built and offer better service to our clients," said Mr. Katchen.
"Power is a great fit for us because we both want to build on something that we see as a third category of investment management."
Power Financial's investment will enable Wealthsimple to expand its offering to a larger pool of investors, as well as expand its team of technology and financial experts.
In the United States, a number of wealth-management firms have already partnered with a robo-adviser platform or launched their own proprietary platform.