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Both in cost and service levels, robo-advisers are a mid-point between solo investing and having an adviser. Not getting value from your adviser? Flailing away as a DIYer? Maybe a robo-adviser can help.

Canadians are notoriously slow to embrace new trends in investing, and the most established robos have only been around for about four years. So lots of work still needs to be done to help investors get acquainted with robos. That’s the idea behind the annual Globe and Mail robo-adviser guide. The latest edition was just published and it covers important details on 14 firms.

Here are five surprising points about robos that you’ll find covered in the guide:

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  1. Human contact is readily available: Setting up an account can be done easily online, but robos stand ready to help new clients by phone. Several firms will assign you a representative to speak to whenever you have questions.
  2. Overall costs are a bargain: There are two components to the cost of using a robo-adviser – the advice fee and the fees built into the exchange-traded funds used to build portfolios. Combined, expect to pay something in the area of 0.75 per cent. The cost of owning mutual funds through an adviser could be well above 2 per cent.
  3. Free advice is available for rookies: A couple of firms don’t charge for advice for accounts with assets of less than $10,000.
  4. Retirees are using robo-advisers: Most established robos report that retirees account for anywhere from 6 to 20 per cent of their client base. The exception is WealthBar, which reports that retirees make up half of its clientele.
  5. Robos can help you find money to invest: Mylo and WealthSimple offer a round-up option, where the dollar amount of your debit- or credit-card purchases is rounded up and the extra money put to work in your investment account.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

When to take your CPP retirement benefits

More thoughts on this perennially popular topic with Globe readers. Should you take your benefits as early as possible at age 60, wait until the standard age of 65 or delay as long as age 70? Each choice will give you a different level of benefits.

Kicking these two habits saved her $1,000 per month

Bringing her lunch to work and taking a more strategic approach to grocery shopping helped this woman save US$1,000 for her and her family.

Ten great questions to ask in a job interview

I talk a lot about how saving and investing are the key to wealth-building, but it’s also important to have a career that is financially and emotionally satisfying. Here’s a list of excellent questions to ask a prospective employer to make sure you’re a good fit for a position.

Where billionaires got their fortune

Don’t be shocked – the finance and investment industry has produced the most billionaires. Also, one-third of billionaires inherited their money.

Today’s financial tool/app

If you’re looking for a home to buy, the Realtor.ca website now shows you the nearest schools to the houses for sale in its database.

Ask Rob

Q: My wife and I have some RRSPs with Manulife under their IncomePlus product, which offers guaranteed values. We’ve paid fees over the last 10 years to have this downside protection. Now Manulife wants to buy its way out of the contracts by giving us “enhanced deposits.” Any thoughts on accepting or rejecting their offer and the program in general?

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A: Manulife IncomePlus became hugely popular in the mid-2000s because it offered guaranteed retirement income. Now, Manulife is offering to pay people holding IncomePlus to get out of the product. Here’s my take on whether to accept the offer.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Featured video

How to manage your home equity line of credit (with cool sound effects).

What I’ve been writing about

  • Let’s see if buying a house is the cure for sky-high rents
  • Brace yourself: Your bond fund returns are going to look bad for 2018 (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
  • Is there proof that ETFs produce better returns than most mutual funds? (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage

For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

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