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Robo advisor exchanges at the border

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Another U.S. firm has entered the Canadian robo advice market.

On the heels of Invesco's formal announcement that it was launching advisorDUO, a online platform for Canadian retail investors, Broadridge Financial Solutions launched its first robo advisor with Wealthsimple, a Toronto-based online investment manager.

The platform will be available initially in Canada for both advisors and retail investors, offering automated investing service and mobile, paperless onboarding. It has no minimum investment requirement for retail investors, while institutional clients, such as RIAs, can customize their own minimum investment level and determine fees with the platform.

Broadridge’s pick of Canadian firm Wealthsimple as a partner may come as a surprise. While Broadridge's robo advisor will only be available in Canada initially, Wealthsimple already has footprint in the U.S. and the U.K. The millennial-oriented platform manages over $1 billion for 50,000 clients in the three countries.

By tying up with Broadbridge, Wealthsimple will reach Broadbridge’s institutional clients in Canada, including broker-dealers, banks and mutual funds.

Broadridge’s clients can access the robo advisor through their existing back office, said Wealthsimple CEO and co-founder of Michael Katchen. The platform is designed to support both securities and mutual fund dealers, “even though they are separately regulated entities in Canada,” he added.

The Canadian market, though substantially smaller than its southern neighbor, is willing to explore digital advice offerings, notes Will Trout, senior analyst at Celent.

“Canadian investors are tired of overpaying for investment advice, and robo advice speaks to the digital zeitgeist," he writes in a report on the market. "The question is not whether a wealth management market frozen in time will thaw, but how quickly."

Wealthsimple is backed by Montreal-based Power Financial. Last year, the conglomerate invested $75 million into Personal Capital, which competes against firms like Vanguard, Betterment, and Wealthfront.

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