Canadian online broker, Wealthsimple, has been around less than a decade, but it has become one of the top online investing platforms for investors in Canada and other countries such as the United Kingdom.
Wealthsimple is best for new to average-experienced, passive investors who prefer automated or self-directed investing with smart technology platforms. What Wealthsimple does well is make complex investing processes effortless and clear, and they provide affordable financial solutions for their customers. Wealthsimple was the first online broker in Canada to offer commission-free stocks and ETFs. Wealthsimple focuses on providing online access for investors to trade without having to physically go to a branch. Due to the limited number of financial tools and platforms, Wealthsimple may not be the best option for active traders. Similarly, Wealthsimple may not be the best fit for experienced and active traders who want to have access to a robust mobile app that has a full array of comprehensive features. Wealthsimple is more of a financial technology company than a traditional broker.
Aside from this Wealthsimple's online broker platform, we've also reviewed Wealthsimple's robo-advisor.
American investors who want to trade Canadian investments should be aware of the differences in how Canadian investments and American investments are protected. In Canada, investments are protected by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), and bank accounts are protected by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). In America, investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), and bank accounts are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Wealthsimple was formed in September 2014 by Michael Katchen in Toronto, Canada. The company is a subsidiary of Power Corporation of Canada. Wealthsimple’s mission is to help everyone achieve financial freedom, no matter who they are or how much money they have. Their superpower is providing uncomplicated, digital financial resources and tools to help customers easily manage their finances.
On March 4, 2021, Wealthsimple reported that they sold their American accounts to Betterment, and the transaction was completed and the American accounts were transferred in the second quarter of 2021. During the first quarter of 2022, Wealthsimple sold and transferred its United Kingdom accounts. The company is putting more focus on the Canadian market.
In Canada, Wealthsimple has become one of the most popular online brokers, especially for new investors and passive investors. At the end of the second quarter of 2022, Wealthsimple had 1.7 million clients in Canada and had $14.9 billion assets under administration. The company reported year-over-year growth of 14%. They are also the first regulated crypto broker in Canada and continue to roll out new and enhanced features and services.
Pros & Cons
Commission-free stock and ETF trades
Competitive option for new investors
Automated investing platform
Fractional stock and ETF shares trading
Limited platforms and tools
No protection for crypto assets
Wealthsimple Trade and Wealthsimple Invest aren’t synced
Pros & Cons Explained
- Wealthsimple offers commission-free stocks and ETFs. However, there are other fees such as a 1.5% currency conversion fee in Wealthsimple Trade. Customers can upgrade their Wealthsimple Trade accounts to the Plus version for $10 a month. The fee for broker-assisted trades is $45.
- Wealthsimple is seen as a competitive option for new investors because of the simplicity of the platforms and tools on the website, the digital investment advisor, and the educational resources such as Investing Master Class, Personal Finance 101, and an online retirement calculator. The Investing Master Class includes 10 short videos that discuss various topics such as the stock market, investing 101, and determining how much money you need to retire.
- Wealthsimple offers an automated investing platform called Wealthsimple Invest, which uses a robo-advisor. Customers can develop a portfolio based on their specific goals, needs, risk tolerance, and more, and the portfolio is managed by the robo-advisor, including rebalancing.
- Wealthsimple offers fractional stock and ETF shares trading. However, customers cannot make fractional dividend reinvestments.
- Wealthsimple offers a limited number of platforms and tools. Wealthsimple Trade, Wealthsimple Invest, and Wealthsimple Crypto are the only trading platforms that Wealthsimple offers. However, Wealthsimple Crypto is only available through the Wealthsimple Trade app. The platforms don’t offer much in the way of market news, advanced features, customizable screening, research options, and more.
- There is no protection of crypto assets purchased through Wealthsimple. Wealthsimple makes customers aware of the risk of purchasing crypto assets. However, Wealthsimple states that their custodian, Gemini, Inc., has a commercial criminal insurance policy up to $200 million to insure against stolen crypto assets as a result of a breach, a hack, fraud, or theft.
- Wealthsimple Trade and Wealthsimple Invest aren’t synced. Customers must open an account in each platform, and customers cannot transfer funds between the two accounts.
In the eight years that Wealthsimple has been in existence, it has become one of the top online brokers and largest robo-advisors in Canada. The company’s focus is on making sure people can have access to financial tools and information without it being overly complicated and expensive. The Wealthsimple website is simple to use and easy to navigate. Before you can set up an account, you have to create a profile on the sign-up page on the website. Wealthsimple tools and resources are available on both their website and mobile platforms.
Wealthsimple’s platforms include:
- The Wealthsimple website
- The Wealthsimple mobile app (available for iOS and Android)
- Wealthsimple Trade, a self-directed trading platform (available on the web and app)
- Wealthsimple Invest, an automated trading platform that uses a robo-advisor (available on the web and app)
- Wealthsimple Crypto, a platform to buy and sell crypto assets (only accessible in Wealthsimple Trade app)
Wealthsimple’s website and app platforms are not as robust as some of their competitors’ platforms. They provide simple financial platforms and tools that an investor at any level can comprehend. If you are an active trader desiring more advanced features and tools, you may want to consider other options. Wealthsimple uses innovative technology, such as automated investing using robo-advisors, which may appeal to new investors and passive investors.
Wealthsimple offers customers two plans in their Wealthsimple Trade platform. The plans are the Basic (free) plan and the Plus plan, which is an upgrade and is $10 monthly. Plus plan customers have access to additional features such as unlimited real-time quotes and price alerts. Wealthsimple does not offer an idea generator tool, and there are limited analysis tools. Customers do have access to a charting tool on both the mobile and website platforms. The charting tool has limited features and may be perfect for new investors and investors who may not need a lot of analysis data to keep track of their investments. The charting tool does not have a drawing tool, and a line chart is the only chart type. However, customers can change the available timeframes to get an idea of investment performance at various time intervals.
Mobile Trade Experience
Wealthsimple’s app includes two separate mobile trading apps, which are Wealthsimple Trade and Wealthsimple Invest. Wealthsimple Trade is a self-directed trading platform, and Wealthsimple Invest is an automated trading platform that uses a robo-advisor. The features in the app are limited in comparison to the features that some of Wealthsimple's competitors’ apps have. Customers are required to use biometric logins to access their accounts in the Wealthsimple app.
Investors are provided with real-time stock quotes in the mobile app and have the same types of orders that are available on the website platform. These order types are market orders, stop-limit orders, limit orders, and other fractional orders. There is a charting tool in the mobile app, but it does not have a drawing tool. Customers can select from various timeframes, which is the only customization feature. A line chart is the only chart type available.
The screeners have limited features and have no customization features or technical indicators. You can create a watchlist for stocks, ETFs, or cryptocurrencies to help you track each investment. You can only create one watchlist at a time, not multiple watchlists. In the watchlist, you can see an investment’s performance at various time intervals, statistics about the investment, news about the investment, and which categories the investment falls into.
Range of Offerings
As an online discount broker, Wealthsimple doesn’t have a wide range of offerings. Wealthsimple does not offer mutual funds, futures, or fixed income. Wealthsimple’s offerings include:
- Stocks (Canada and U.S-based stocks)
- Exchange traded funds (ETFs)
- Penny stocks
- Cryptocurrencies (50+ various cryptocurrencies available)
- Fractional shares (stocks and ETFs)
- Automated investing through Wealthsimple Invest (uses robo-advisor)
- Halal Investments (ETFs that comply with Islamic law)
Wealthsimple offers only four order types. They are market orders, stop-limit orders, limit orders, and other fractional orders. The order types are available on both the Wealthsimple website and app. They don’t offer complex conditional orders nor the ability to stage orders for later entry. Wealthsimple keeps it basic when it comes to orders and clearly is aimed at a buy-and-hold investor more than an active trader.
Wealthsimple complies with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)’s rules. Part of the compliance is to have quality order execution policies and procedures in place and disclose this information to customers. This includes order handling and routing, order types, technical issues, conflicts of interest that pertain to execution, and foreign regulated markets. This also includes various factors such as investment prices, execution speed, execution assurance, transaction costs, and market conditions.
Wealthsimple discloses all of their fees and costs for their products and services in the legal section of their website. Wealthsimple does not have the lowest investment management fees in comparison to U.S. online brokers, but it's no-commission stock and ETF trading makes it competitive for Canada—a country where trading commissions are still quite common.
- No commissions for Canadian and U.S. based stocks and ETFs
- Wealthsimple Trade Plus plan: Wealthsimple offers a Basic (free) plan and a Plus plan for Wealthsimple Trade accounts. The Plus plan is an upgrade that costs $10 a month. It also includes additional features such as unlimited price alerts, unlimited real-time quotes, $5,000 instant deposits, and USD trade accounts.
- Currency conversion fee: Under the Basic plan, customers will pay a 1.5% currency conversion fee when trading American stocks and converting between Canadian dollars (CAD) and United States dollars (USD). Under the Plus plan, customers can trade stocks and ETFs in USD without paying the currency conversion fee. However, Plus plan customers will pay a 1.5% currency conversion fee when they fund their accounts and convert between CAD and USD.
- No fees or minimums required to open or close an account.
- No fees for inactive accounts or outgoing account transfers.
- $20 fee for paper statements.
- $75 fee for special requests and investigations.
- $50 fee for voluntary corporate action/election.
- $30 fee for incoming and outgoing wire transfers.
- $250 fee for a certificate withdrawal.
- $45 fee for broker-assisted trades.
- Wealthsimple charges investment management fees for assets under management, including digitally managed portfolios in Wealthsimple Invest. For portfolios that are under $99,999, the fee is 0.50%. For portfolios that are above $100,000, the fee is 0.40%.
How This Broker Makes Money From You and for You
Wealthsimple is an online discount broker whose mission is to provide affordable financial solutions to everyone. Even though several products and services have no minimums, no service fees, and no commission fees, the company still must make money in some way.
- Management fee: Wealthsimple receives a management fee for the portfolios that they manage for customers in Wealthsimple Invest. They receive a fee of 0.50% for portfolios with a balance under $99,999, and they receive a fee of 0.40% for portfolios with a balance over $100,000. These fees are also assessed for the TFSA, RRSP, Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), and Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA).
- Currency conversion fee: Wealthsimple charges this fee when Canadian investors trade American investments. The fee is different for each account plan. Under the basic plan, customers will pay a 1.5% currency conversion fee when trading American stocks and converting between Canadian dollars (CAD) and United States dollars (USD). Under the Plus plan, customers can trade stocks and ETFs in USD without paying the currency conversion fee. However, Plus plan customers will pay a 1.5% currency conversion fee when they fund their accounts and convert between CAD and USD.
- Wealthsimple Trade Plus plan fee: Wealthsimple charges customers a fee of $10 a month for the Plus plan, which is an upgrade from the free basic plan and has more features.
- Payment for order flow: Payment for order flow is banned in Canada. This is a fact that is commonly brought up as an argument as to why trading commissions are persisting.
- Interest on cash balances: Wealthsimple doesn’t pay interest on idle cash. For Wealthsimple Invest, all funds are put into the market. Wealthsimple Trade cash balances are not eligible for interest, although the broker is presumably able to earn some.
Account and Research Amenities
Simplicity is the focus for Wealthsimple. They do offer various services and support for their customers, but the number of offerings is not as robust as some of their competitors who have been around longer. Unfortunately, Wealthsimple lacks in the area of research. They do not offer proprietary research or third-party research to customers, and they don’t offer daily market research reports to customers. Also, they don’t offer trading idea generator tools to customers.
Wealthsimple’s customers have access to screeners for socially responsible investments (SRIs) (including ESG investments), stocks, and ETFs. However, customers cannot build or customize their own screens, which also means they can’t save customized screens for later use. Investments cannot be screened based on technical indicators.
Customers can create a watchlist for stocks, ETFs, or cryptocurrencies to help them keep track of each investment. Upon creating a watchlist, customers have access to different details about the investment such as the investment’s performance at various time intervals, statistics about the investment, news about the investment, and which categories the investment falls into.
ETF and Mutual Fund Screener
Wealthsimple has a limited number of ETFs that are available to customers and does not offer mutual funds. Wealthsimple’s ETF screener has limited features. Customers cannot build or customize their own ETF screens, which also means they can’t save customized screens for later use. ETFs cannot be screened based on technical indicators.
Customers can create a watchlist for ETFs to help them keep track of each ETF. Upon creating a watchlist, customers have access to different details about the ETF such as the ETF’s performance at various time intervals, statistics about the ETF, news about the ETF, and which categories the ETF falls into.
Wealthsimple does not have an options screener.
Fixed Income Screener
Wealthsimple does not offer fixed income securities and therefore does not have a fixed income screener.
Tools and Calculators
Tools and calculators are limited in Wealthsimple’s platforms. They provide four free online calculators including, a TFSA calculator, an RRSP calculator, an income tax calculator, and a Canadian retirement calculator. There are no detailed portfolio or market analysis tools.
In the Wealthsimple app, customers can receive price alerts and stock news. Customers have access to a very limited feature charting tool in Wealthsimple Trade. The charting tool is available in both the website and app platforms. Wealthsimple Trade has a limited watchlist feature. Customers can only create one watchlist at a time or select from predefined watchlists.
Wealthsimple Trade has a limited charting feature. The charting tool is available on both the website and mobile app. There are no drawing tools, and the only customization option is a selection of various timeframes. There is a default line chart but no other chart types.
Trading Idea Generators
Wealthsimple does not offer any trading idea generators.
When customers create a watchlist for a stock, they have access to news about the stock. Customers have access to stock news and price alerts in the Wealthsimple app. However, Wealthsimple does not provide major headline financial news on their platforms for customers to access. Wealthsimple does have a separate news section in their online Wealthsimple Magazine where they announce new products and services and other important company news.
Wealthsimple does not offer customers access to third-party research.
There is no sweep on uninvested funds or interest paid on cash balances with Wealthsimple Trade.
Wealthsimple does offer two unrelated cash management options for customers, including Wealthsimple Spend and Wealthsimple Save. Wealthsimple Spend includes a digital and physical Wealthsimple card and has no fees and account minimums. Customers can manage the card’s features in the Wealthsimple app. Customers earn 1% back in cash, crypto, or stock when they use the card. The Wealthsimple Save account has no fees, and customers earn 1.5% in interest. Additionally, Wealthsimple now offers Wealthsimple Cash, which is a cash app allowing customers to send and receive funds to and from their cash account.
Fractional Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP)
Wealthsimple does not offer dividend reinvestment plans.
SRI/ESG Research Amenities
Wealthsimple does not provide customers access to any proprietary or third-party research tools. Customers who prefer self-directed investing using Wealthsimple Trade are out of luck when it comes to research tools for ESG and socially responsible investments (SRIs).
Customers who prefer a managed portfolio can use Wealthsimple Invest, which is an automated investing platform that uses a robo-advisor. The robo-advisor does the research for the customer. Wealthsimple’s standard SRI and ESG portfolios contain companies that have at least 3 women on their board of directors and companies with the lowest carbon emissions in each industry. Wealthsimple also offers a Halal portfolio that complies with Islamic law.
In Canada, Wealthsimple is a top choice for those wanting to trade socially responsible investments (SRI) and Halal investments.
Wealthsimple has limited analysis tools in their platforms. The Wealthsimple Invest platform has a digital investment manager that does portfolio analysis, but only for managed portfolios. Wealthsimple has four free online calculators that customers can use for analysis purposes.
Wealthsimple offers a complimentary portfolio review for non-Wealthsimple customers. If you have a portfolio that has a minimum balance of $50,000, a Wealthsimple advisor will review your portfolio to help you decide if a Wealthsimple managed portfolio better suits your goals and needs.
Wealthsimple’s limited educational resources are designed not to be overwhelming for new investors. There is plenty of foundational education to help new investors learn the basics. Experienced investors and active traders will find the educational resources shallow, but the platform itself isn’t set up for even intermediate trading strategies like multi-asset position trading.
Wealthsimple provides various tips, advice, articles, podcasts, and has a YouTube channel. They also have Wealthsimple Magazine, which is on their website. Wealthsimple provides a free Canadian retirement calculator on their website. There are two main educational resources, including:
- Personal Finance 101, personal finance videos, articles, and guides.
- Investing Master Class, 10 short videos of someone teaching various financial topics such as stock market and investing 101.
- Customer service is available by phone, chat, and email. Customer service is available 24/7 through email or chat (with a virtual assistant). You can only speak with a live person through chat during normal business hours, seven days a week.
- You can speak with customer service by phone during normal business hours, seven days a week.
- Wealthsimple has a help center on their website where you can find answers to common questions.
- Some product pages have an FAQs section at the bottom of the page.
- Customers can complete broker-assisted trades by phone. There is a fee of $45 for this service.
Security and Reliability
- Wealthsimple offers biometric logins on the Wealthsimple app.
- Customers’ investing accounts are protected by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
- Wealthsimple Cash, Wealthsimple Spend, and Wealthsimple Save customers’ cash accounts are insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). In Canada, cash accounts are insured by the CDIC up to $100,000.
- Wealthsimple is the first regulated crypto broker. Crypto assets are not protected. However, Wealthsimple states that their custodian, Gemini, Inc., has a commercial criminal insurance policy up to $200 million to insure against stolen crypto assets as a result of a breach, a hack, fraud, or theft.
- Wealthsimple provides two-factor authentication on their website and in the Wealthsimple app. All customers are required to use two-factor authentication.
- Wealthsimple provides encryption to protect customers’ data.
- Wealthsimple complies with industry standards and keeps their security policies and procedures updated consistently.
Wealthsimple has a legal section on their website that contains various disclosures. Wealthsimple provides clear details on their products and services’ pricing structures and fees.
Available Account Types
Wealthsimple is focused on the Canadian market, so it offers the standard fare for Canadian brokers. This includes:
- Individual brokerage accounts
- Business brokerage accounts
- Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
- Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
- Spousal RRSP
- Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
- Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA)
Passive investors will find a lot to like at Wealthsimple. New investors will not be overwhelmed by the amount of educational content provided on Wealthsimple’s mobile and web platforms, but it does the job in easing you into investing. The digital investment management route is the most passive solution and, while not as full-featured or cheap as its U.S.-based competition, gets the job done with diversification and automated rebalancing. The Wealthsimple Trade platform is harder to classify, however.
Wealthsimple’s trading platforms, tools, educational resources, and research are limited. Depending on the type of investor and their goals, what Wealthsimple provides may or may not be enough. If you are a DIY investor looking to keep costs down and are mainly looking to buy-and-hold rather than trade, then Wealthsimple Trade’s $0 commissions offset some of what the platform lacks. Active traders and experienced investors who are seeking more robust and detailed analysis tools, research tools, and educational resources will need to consider other options. For Canadians, that likely means another Canadian brokerage like Questrade or a bank affiliated broker—or, better yet, Interactive Brokers also serves the Canadian market with its powerful trading platform.
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