Luisa Rollenhagen is a journalist and investor who writes about financial planning for Wealthsimple. She is a past winner of the David James Burrell Prize for journalistic achievement and her work has been published in GQ Magazine and BuzzFeed. Luisa earned her M.A. in Journalism at New York University and is now based in Berlin, Germany.
With the proliferation of robo-advisors and online-only banking, companies have resorted to attracting customers with elegant branding, low fees, and accessible mobile apps. They’ve also added perks like automated recurring investments, more flexibility when it comes to choosing portfolios, and personalized advice and tools for higher account holders. One of the most prominent of those robo-advisors is Stash, which creates curated portfolios and aims to be particularly accessible to absolute novice investors.
What is Stash and is it available in Canada?
Similar to other user-centered robo-advisors out there, Stash is focused on making investing easier for first-time investors or those who are insecure by curating and managing portfolios of low-cost ETFs, stocks, and bonds. Users answer a series of questions regarding their financial goals and comfort with risk, after which the app suggests a series of portfolios for you. Stash is based in New York City and has been around since 2015; since then, it’s amassed more than 2 million users and tends to focus strongly on millennials and first-time investors through tactics such as giving snappy names to its holdings (their Vanguard small-cap ETF is called Small but Mighty, and their clean energy ETFS are called Clean & Green).
In addition to creating fun and theme-driven portfolio categories—”All that Glitters,” “Aggressive Mix,” Stash offers educational tools for users. The app’s Stash Coach will guide users into choosing portfolios that best suit your needs according to the questionnaire you filled out, and there’s an entire editorial section, called Stash Learn, dedicated to providing investment and personal finance tips. And if that isn’t enough for the financially illiterate, the Stash app also offers video-game-style challenges and levels that users can complete through the Stash Coach.
And finally, as more robo-advisors start branching out into all-inclusive financial services, Stash has also added mobile banking features. In addition to their investing options, you can also sign up for a debit account that features a “stock-back” option, which allows users to earn stock rewards when using the Stash debit card. And because it wouldn’t be an all-round financial package without some retirement options thrown in, users can also sign up for a traditional or Roth IRA. Canadian investors who want to take a crack at the Stash Coach are out of luck, however. Stash is only available in the United States, and there don’t seem to be any plans to change that in the near future.
Other financial institution available in Canada
However, the good news is that Canada is in no way lacking when it comes to innovative, beginner-friendly, and expert investment platforms that provide financial solutions for both newbies and long-time investors. We’d like to take this opportunity to throw our own hat in the ring here: Wealthsimple offers the convenience of a professionally managed, diversified portfolio consisting of low-cost ETFs with a low-fee structure that helps everyone get started with investing, no matter how financially literate (or illiterate) you are. Our financial experts are there to guide you during any questions you may have regarding your portfolio, and our online magazine focuses on answering all your personal finance questions and demystifying the world of investing.
We believe that anyone can start investing, regardless of whether you’re able to start with $200 or $200,000. That’s why we have no account minimums, low fees, and make it easy for you to keep track of your investing journey by signing you up for things like automatic recurring deposits and round-ups that invest your spare change.
And like Stash, Wealthsimple has options for your retirement plans too—you can start a TFSA or an RRSP with us, or transfer your existing one over. Wealthsimple has received $265 million in investment from some of the world’s largest financial institutions in Canada and Europe, so we’re far from small, but you’ll still get that personalized service that’ll help you realize your financial goals.
Are there any limitations to Wealthsimple?
We’re not a banking app, so we don’t offer debit cards or checking accounts—although we do have a high-interest savings account, if you’re looking for a way to save while earning above-average annual rates.
And while Stash makes users pick and choose the composition of their portfolios, we usually help you by creating portfolios for you that already reflect your goals and comfort level—although we’re always happy to tweak and readjust until it’s just right for you. And if you’d rather take a more proactive approach in the stock market, you can also sign up for Wealthsimple Trade, an app that will execute commission-free trades on your behalf. Like our regular investment accounts, there’s no account minimum and no annoying paperwork: All you need to sign up is your laptop and an Internet connection.
W_e’re certainly a little biased, but we think the best home for a first-time investor, or a hundredth-time investor for that matter, is_ Wealthsimple. We offer state-of-the-art technology, low fees, and friendly financial advice. Sign up now or find more details here.