Author Topic: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?  (Read 15661 times)

Blissful Biker

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Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« on: March 18, 2017, 04:17:42 PM »

We have a financial advisor at our bank, BMO, who we really like.  He provides us good advice and plots out our financial plan every year.  We trust him and always have a good laugh with him and his young family when we meet them out on the bike trails.

But following MMM and these forums I am starting to question if we should be paying the fees associated with using our friendly local bank advisor.  For example, if I were to buy the same funds on BMO Investor line the MERs would be 1% or more less than we currently pay (2-2.5%ish).

As we get older and our net worth grows this is weighing on me more heavily.  Our assets are:
House: $450K
RRSP: $850K
TFSA:$120K
RESP: $120K (for our 2 tweens)
We have no liabilities so a net worth of 1.5MM, with 1MM of assets invested with our BMO advisor.

If we assume an average fee of 2.2% that is $22K per year we are paying to feel safe and enjoy his company.  Perhaps not money well spent.

I am hearing about robo-advisors and am considering them.  But the marketing seems to be geared towards young folks with small portfolios as opposed to 40 year olds with medium to large portfolios like me.  A robo-advisor seems like a reasonable compromise between paying the high fees for our local advisor and the risks of picking my own funds. 

I want low fees, solid returns and to spend my free time on my bike as opposed to researching funds.  Can I have it all?



KMMK

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2017, 04:54:07 PM »
I recommend reading the Canadian Couch Potato website, starting with the tops tabs. And/or consult with a fee-based advisor. It will be significantly cheaper. (I am one but not set up to work outside of Alberta currently).

GreatLaker

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2017, 06:27:03 PM »
Likeability and trust are among the most important characteristics of a sales person, especially in investments where you are trusting them with your future. But is that worth $22k/year? And about $10k of that will be going to the adviser and his firm as a trailing commission.

I also suggest you seriously investigate learning to invest on your own with a low-cost index portfolio. Augment that with a plan from a fee-only financial adviser if you need financial planning (as opposed to investing advice). I used to deal with a full service broker and have moved all my investments over to a discount broker, almost all of it in indexed ETFs. I started with $50k in one account to learn how to trade and build a portfolio, back when you needed $50 k assets or trades cost $30/trade.

Here are some learning resources:

If You Can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly is a free ebook. The author says more in 16 pages than most say in hundreds. You are not millennials, and it is US based, but the basic principles apply in Canada. Just use Canadian ETFs instead of the ones the author recommends.
https://www.etf.com/docs/IfYouCan.pdf

Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam is a great story of frugal living and low-cost investing by a Canadian Author with a global perspective. I borrowed it from the library.
https://www.amazon.ca/Millionaire-Teacher-Wealth-Should-Learned/dp/1119356296

Finiki is an excellent resource for Canadian Investors
http://www.finiki.org/wiki/Getting_started

And Canadian Couch Portfolio will show you how simple and low-cost investing can be:
http://canadiancouchpotato.com/model-portfolios-2/

So can you have it all? Would you consider a 3 or 4 fund portfolio with a MER around 0.15% that you only need to review and rebalance annually having it all?

Robo-advisers will be a little simpler, and do automatic rebalancing in a single portfolio they manage for you. They will also do tax-loss harvesting. But the cost for that is in the 0.4 to 0.5% range, plus MERs of the underlying funds. Some of them use basic low-cost ETFs, others may use a mix of low-cost ETFs, higher fee active ETFs and mutual funds. Some are more open about what they will hold in your account. Check them carefully for their fee structure, type of investments they hold, how they rebalance and what mysterious algorithms they use for asset allocation and security selection.
This site has a good selection tool, but it focuses primarily on cost. You need to check each individual robo-adviser for the details.
http://autoinvest.ca/

You could start the way I did, with a small account to get the hang of it and decide which alternative suits you best.

Blissful Biker

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2017, 07:07:19 PM »
Terrific.  Thanks so much for the advice GreatLaker and KMMK.

Based on your advice and what I read today on the Canadian Couch Potato site, I would like to try investing on my own with a low-cost index portfolio.  I am an engineer, how hard can it be, right?  My husband and I talked it over and agreed to start with $40K so I can learn and gain skills and confidence before we transfer big money.

What platform would you recommend?  BMO Investorline?  Questrade? Does it matter?

I have some reading ahead of me.  Thanks!

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2017, 09:02:26 PM »
Terrific.  Thanks so much for the advice GreatLaker and KMMK.

Based on your advice and what I read today on the Canadian Couch Potato site, I would like to try investing on my own with a low-cost index portfolio.  I am an engineer, how hard can it be, right?  My husband and I talked it over and agreed to start with $40K so I can learn and gain skills and confidence before we transfer big money.

What platform would you recommend?  BMO Investorline?  Questrade? Does it matter?

I have some reading ahead of me.  Thanks!

I personally use Questrade and have been with them for a few years now. Overall a good experience. Much better than I had with my previous brokerage (TD Waterhouse). You simply can't beat the commission free ETF purchases and their platform is easy to use as well.

I would say it generally doesn't matter who you use, the differences between each broker is primarily based on their fee structure. Of course some brokerages are geared to technical traders, high frequency traders, margin users, and such, but that shouldn't be a selling feature for you.

Some people complain about Questrade's customer service, but I personally have received prompt responses to all my requests. Better than some service I got from TD, that's for sure. My only issue with Questrade was their handling of a pension transfer, but in fairness to them my pension plan was not at all helpful and notoriously bureaucratic to boot.
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GreatLaker

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2017, 06:28:50 AM »
If you plan on being an index investor you won't do a lot of trades, and won't need the research some of the larger brokers provide. In that case any of the major bank or independent brokers will work. Look for their fees, minimum account size, mobile app if you want that, availability of 3rd party GICs and mutual funds, to make sure there are no major gaps to your needs. Staying invested long-term with a balanced, diversified, low-cost portfolio will make more of a difference than the choice of broker. How much hand-holding and support do you get from your current adviser, and do you think you will be tempted to abandon your plan when the market drops suddenly or gets volatile? Treat your portfolio like a bar of soap: the more you touch it the smaller it gets.

Questrade is seems to be the broker of choice for investors looking for low cost, especially for their commission free ETF purchases. All of the big banks have good brokerages. I use TD Direct and have never had a problem. I chose it because it's also my main bank and I can access all my accounts from one web login and one mobile app, plus it gives access to their eSeries low cost mutual funds. Once you have $500k invested they upgrade you to President's Account... they always answer my calls on the first ring. Over the last 3 years they have add a lot of enhancements including new website, performance reporting, mobile app and US$ RRSPs.

One thing to consider is if you make monthly contributions, buying ETFs will cost you between $7 and $10 per trade, unless you go with Questrade. One way around that is to invest quarterly instead of monthly. Another way is to do monthly purchases of a low-cost balanced mutual fund (I use TDB965), then once or twice a year sell the MF and buy ETFs, and rebalancing  your accounts at the same time.

Justin Bender at Canadian Portfolio Manager has a series of videos on how to build an ETF portfolio with several of the main brokerages. He goes through how to purchase online and walks through actual trading screens. Here are ones for BMO and Questrade. They are available on his website and YouTube.
http://www.canadianportfoliomanagerblog.com/how-to-build-an-etf-portfolio-at-bmo-investorline/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqORu39gktw

daverobev

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2017, 09:01:43 AM »
It sounds like WealthSimple is going downhill - https://www.reddit.com/r/PersonalFinanceCanada/comments/5zyb3n/wealthsimple_no_more_live_phone_support/

I would certainly suggest doing some reading at CCP, but the honest truth is you can save probably 3/4 of that amount by just buying XWD.TO and VAB.TO. Like... ya, $15k a year.

Questrade are ok, but they don't do the good stuff like track your ACB. With that amount of money, and particularly if you won't trade much at all, I'd say go with a big bank's direct/DIY. So, CIBC Investor's Edge - $7 a trade - is probably the cheapest. You will get reasonable customer service (as in, they'll actually help you; where Questrade will have the facade of helpfulness but... won't... actually... help).

2+% is just free money for the banks.
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Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2017, 09:39:12 AM »
With 1MM in assets already, it'll cost you some time to learn and $50-100 in trading fees to move everything to Investorline and buy three to eight ETFs that will spin off $40k a year in growth.  Your done man, stop paying through the nose!

Take your asset allocation today that BMO advisor has you in.  I bet it's already in high cost BMO ETFs, or wrapper funds ( the "Income Fund", or "Growth Fund".). These usually just hold ETFs while making BMO Mutual funds Inc a shittonne of cash.  Learn what you own today, and duplicate it with Couch Potato. 

Post up your current fund selection and let us rip it apart for you!   Fun stuff!
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 09:54:42 AM by Heckler »

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2017, 09:40:47 AM »

Ps - I use BMO IL and also have an Iron Ring.  I implemented couch potato when we became mortgage free and had to ditch 2.8% MERs and have doubled our investments in three years of self directing.

You're smarter and cheaper than a robo advisor
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 10:11:05 AM by Heckler »

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2017, 09:58:26 AM »
With 850 in RSP, I'm curious what your FA has to say about taxes reduction, withdrawal rates and RMDs at 71 affecting your OAS when you start withdrawing.  What's his plan?



Better question - what's your plan?   


Who's got the most stake in your finances?

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2017, 10:09:03 AM »

 For example, if I were to buy the same funds on BMO Investor line the MERs would be 1% or more less than we currently pay (2-2.5%ish).


This alone is an immediate no brainer to implement.  $10,000 per year savings and additional compounding, come on!  You probably can still keep your FA too, you just need to to the $9.95 trades yourself instead of him.

Stasher

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2017, 11:43:18 AM »
Lots of great advice in here and @Heckler nailed it right away, the biggest worry I see right now is you are going to get hammered at 71 with the mandatory withdrawals on that RRSP unless you come up with a plan asap.

I personally use Scotia iTrade , it is such a no brainer and the easiest thing I have ever done.
I use the Aggressive portfolio from Canadian Couch Potatoe ETF and of 60 VXC 30 VCN 10 VAB
Based on what I have invested and what you have for $$ in RRSP you are looking at $20,000 per year revenue just off the dividends  it yields !

Killer information @GreatLaker

You don't need an advisor, just read and start moving one accountant at a time. Start the awakening and realize how much you are loosing in just simple MER fees alone.
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eueueu

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2017, 03:40:27 PM »
I currently am using Wealthsimple, as my investments with them is not worth much. If you decide to put in some money with a roboadvisor, make sure you get a referral bonus to get some money managed for free. (You still pay the fund fees).

I got one for WealthSimple and it gives you another $5000 managed for free. It's below if you or anyone else would like to use it.

http://wsim.co/xlvo633

If you go with WealthSimple and have more than $100 000 invested, you get perks, such as a lower management fee, priority lounges, etc. But at that level I don't think it's worth it.

That being said, Questrade has a practice account so you can get a feel for the platform. It's helpful and pretty easy to navigate.

Blissful Biker

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2017, 04:11:17 PM »
My investing journey begins.  I am excited and nervous.

Quote
You're smarter and cheaper than a robo advisor

Thanks for the encouragement!

I have decided to sign up for BMO investor line.  I imagine that my trades will be infrequent, I like the idea of seeing all our financial information on one site, and maybe just maybe my BMO advisor will help keep us out of trouble.   

I am thinking I'll start with $40K from our RRSP and learn the ropes for a few months.  If all goes well, take over the rest of the RRSP ($810K) but leave the TFSA ($120K) and RESP ($120K) with our advisor.  The bank does handy things like track how much we have contributed vs maximums and applies for and receives the 20% RESP grant.  Plus that should leave him enough of a portfolio to warrant continuing as our financial planner.   Reasonable, or am I too chicken?

I started the process of signing up for BMO Invesorline account but realized I have to choose between an AdviceDirect account or SelfDirected.  The AdviceDirect account looks really appealing but you pay .75% up to a max of $3,750 a year, which puts it in the cost range of a roboadvisor like BMO SmartFolio.  I am pausing to consider, how bold am I?

You guys have already given me great advice, recommendations and reading assignments.  With you on my side I am thinking that fortune favours the bold.

Heckler encourage me to post my current holdings.  These are my numbers (not including my husbands as I can't view his and he is not around):
RRSP
Balanced Funds:
BMO Balanced ETF Portfolio 257K
Growth Funds:
BMO Canadian Small Cap Equity Fund $54K
BMO Global Small Cap Fund Series A $67K
BMO Tactical Dividend ETF $56K
TFSA
BMO Equity Growth ETF $63K
RESP
BMO Intuition RESP Growth Portfolio $120K

Heckler and Stasher seemed concerned about $850K in RRSP.  Please elaborate.  More is better right? Granted there will be taxes in the future but that seems far superior to not having a healthy stash. 

Our goals are to retire in about 7 years at age 52 with $1.65MM in investments to throw off an annual income of $65K based on a 4% SWR.  Our current savings rate is about 40% with a spend of $84K per year, but we also have these active growing boys (12 and 13) eating the cupboards bare.  In 7 years they will be feeding themselves, buying their own bikes and a spend of $65K/yr will be luxurious.

GreatLaker

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2017, 05:21:58 PM »
Congrats on getting started... I'll address your main issues:

Starting with $40k then moving the balance of your RRSP later is a good idea IMO. I have grown my account 25 times since I first started self directed investing and am glad I started small. Making your first trade for $10k is a lot less stressful than making $200k trades (which is around where you will be if you invest the RRSP in a 3-fund ETF portfolio).

Leaving the RESP and TFSA with the adviser are worth trying, but I would not be surprised if the adviser's enthusiasm for supporting your account dropped off considerably, and you might also want to start investing it yourself anyway. Once you learn, investing $1M is not harder than $50k. And with those accounts you will have $240k with the adviser, driving around $5k in MER. For that amount you could go to a fee only CFP planner every year. But there is no harm in moving those accounts last and evaluating as you go.

I would not go for AdviceDirect. It is meant for much smaller accounts. You will be paying $3750/yr for a bit of hand holding and a few messages or phone calls. Again, for that cost you could get a full plan done by a fee-only planner every year.

I'll answer the RRSP size and tax question in another post.

GreatLaker

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2017, 06:06:56 PM »
Our goals are to retire in about 7 years at age 52 with $1.65MM in investments to throw off an annual income of $65K based on a 4% SWR.  Our current savings rate is about 40% with a spend of $84K per year, but we also have these active growing boys (12 and 13) eating the cupboards bare.  In 7 years they will be feeding themselves, buying their own bikes and a spend of $65K/yr will be luxurious.
You have this well thought out. I am probably overloading you with reading and this one is for later, but The Real Retirement by Fred Vettese and Bill Morneau (yeah, that guy) is a good look at how much of your current income you will need in retirement based on your lifestyle. https://www.amazon.ca/Real-Retirement-Could-Better-Happen/dp/111849864X Another one I got from the library.

Quote
Heckler and Stasher seemed concerned about $850K in RRSP.  Please elaborate.  More is better right? Granted there will be taxes in the future but that seems far superior to not having a healthy stash. 

It is a myth that the benefit of an RRSP is tax-deferred compounding. The real benefit of tax-deferred accounts like RRSPs is deferring taxes until your income is lower, therefore your tax rate is lower. That's common in retirement when youare not earning a salary or paying CPP/EI, or saving for retirement, and the kids are off the payroll.

The problem comes in when you have to convert a RRSP to a RRIF which is no later than the end of the year you turn 71 (I think couples can use the age of the lower spouse but let's ignore that for now). You can convert earlier if you want. But once you convert to a RRIF, every year after the year in which it is created you must withdraw the minimum amount which changes with age. You can see the age factors here: https://www.woodgundy.cibc.com/wg/reference-library/topics/retirement-planning/rrsp-maturity-options/rrif-minimal-withdrawal.html

So the year you turn 72, you will have to withdraw 5.28% of the RRIF value at the end of the previous year. If you have $1M in your RRIF, you will be required to withdraw $52800. Now add approx $20k for CPP/OAS payments, and say you have $20k in pension income. Your income for the year is now over $90k, which could drive a higher tax rate than when you were working.

The other problem is OAS gets clawed back (I think the official name is OAS recovery tax) once your income goes above around $75k, by 15% for every dollar your income is above that threshold. It all gets clawed back by about $120k of income.

So if your RRSP gets too big you have a double whammy of getting hit with higher income tax rates, plus some or all of your OAS being clawed back. There are worse things than paying a lot of tax, like running out of money in retirement.

How do you manage this dilemma? Option one is contribute less to RRSP, and direct those savings to non-registered accounts instead. Another approach is to spend down some of the RRSP money after retirement but before you hit age 71. Your early retirement plans will give you lots of years to do that. From when you retire until you start collecting OAS (earliest age 65, latest age 70) you can withdraw as much as you want from the RRSP or RRIF, and probably pay less tax than leaving it until age 71 when you are forced to convert. Then from when you start OAS to the year you turn 71 you can withdraw until your income gets up to the ~$75k OAS clawback threshold. Note I have used numbers for a single person for all of the above... if your RRSP is split among both it will change the analysis.

So what do you do now? I say don't let this stop you from the self directed investing plan... Your RRSP is what it is, and delaying moving to a lower cost portfolio is not gonna make it worse in the short term. But as previous posters said you need to think longer term and have a good tax plan. This is where a good fee only financial planner can help, using software that considers tax rates and investment returns. Or with enough reading and number crunching you can analyze it yourself. But for the amount of $ we are talking about, spending a little on a comprehensive plan can be well worth it. Remember you are paying 5 figure MERs every year now, and AdviceDirect would have cost you $3750/year for something that would not be nearly as customized or comprehensive.

Albert Einstein is reported to have said “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the Income Tax.” I do find that if I think about investing taxes too long my brain gets all foggy and I start typing random incoherent gibberishjlkjhf kjh fakjdhqe8hf uiyf uf  euyfh udft ...

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2017, 09:02:50 PM »
forgetabout AdviceDirect.  You've got too much skin in the game to not go on your own.

However....

I would start in Excel.  Learn, learn, learn!  You can figure out your asset allocation, expected fees, costs of one vs the other all without spending a dime or moving a penny.

I started one account at a time - good idea!  However, before you start moving that account, make a plan in Excel for ALL of your accounts. 

Step 1 - your Investment Policy Statement.

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Investment_policy_statement

Without it, you're shooting in the dark.


Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2017, 09:06:34 PM »
RRSP
Balanced Funds:
BMO Balanced ETF Portfolio 257K
Growth Funds:
BMO Canadian Small Cap Equity Fund $54K
BMO Global Small Cap Fund Series A $67K
BMO Tactical Dividend ETF $56K
TFSA
BMO Equity Growth ETF $63K
RESP
BMO Intuition RESP Growth Portfolio $120K



Do you know what your overall asset allocation is?  I would expect your financial adviser has provided this to you.  Even what percentage bonds vs equities?

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Asset_allocation_in_multiple_accounts

http://canadiancouchpotato.com/2014/08/13/managing-multiple-family-accounts/



« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 09:54:40 PM by Heckler »

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2017, 09:09:04 PM »
PS - I'm in North Van and just got back from a 16k Seymour ride.  That's really why I'm helping so much.  Kindred spirit, random stranger.

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2017, 09:45:38 PM »
so, here's all the funds you own today.  What do you notice about your total asset allocation?



« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 09:48:09 PM by Heckler »

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2017, 09:47:25 PM »
Well, fuck.  Now we will learn about my biggest peeve about my old financial advisor, and I'm sorry to say will keep you up at night. 

http://fundfacts.bmo.com/advisorEnglish/BMO_Balanced_ETF_Portfolio_Class-EN-Advisor_Series.pdf

Section "How Much Does It Cost", page 2, 3.  - this will depend on how long you've owned the fund and which version he sold you.  Is he riding a carbon bike?

Did your friendly financial adviser sell you the Sales Charge, the Deferred Sales Charge or the no load/low load version?  If he's your "friend", he sold you the DSC and is over the course of 8 years moving a percentage over to the Upfront Sales Charge funds, which are considered "paid for".  If you hold onto the fund for 8 years, and didn't contribute in the past 8 years, then your fund is free to sell and move.  If not, they've got you in the handcuffs.  The low load only has handcuffs for three years.  The Series A mutual funds are a bit better, because they don't have these sales charges.

I only lost a few thousand when I ditched my DSC funds, but only had $40k or so invested over 5 years or so.  This is why I edumucated myself before we became mortgage free.

With Vanguard or I-shares or even BMO ETFs in Investorline, your sales charge is $9.95 to buy and $9.95 to sell.  So, that's 0.2% to buy and sell a $10,000 chunk.  0.05% for a $40,000 chunk.  Buy today, sell tomorrow or in 2065 - same cost (well, unless the $9.95 commission changes in 48 years from now - fair enough). 

You'll notice (and sounds like you already know) many of your holdings are already broad index ETFs.  The biggest question is - why do you need to hold so many?
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 10:11:35 PM by Heckler »

Heckler

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Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2017, 10:07:24 PM »
BMO had $19.6 Billion in revenue last year.  What percent came from your investments?

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2017, 10:22:54 PM »
The great news is you are very well diversified globally.  Kudos to your FA for that. Mine has me in a Alberta centric energy fund which was booming until a few months after she sold it to me.

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2017, 10:42:52 PM »
here's a fun link.  Be careful though - these each assume a 6% annual return, which each asset class will not have.  This is a reasonable average return for a balanced fund.

https://www.vanguardcanada.ca/individual/insights/fundcompare.htm#/target=cst&selectedFund0=F00000H6O6&selectedFund1=F00000NF6Q&selectedFund2=F00000QA9G&selectedFund3=F00000TVGA


This picture shows your $257,000 invested for 20 years in each of the four funds, making a 6% annual return before fees.  Then fees are added in.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 10:49:17 PM by Heckler »

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #25 on: March 20, 2017, 06:04:46 PM »
@Heckler you rock !!
Awesome job on all the replies, @Blissful_Biker we gotta help and save you here.
Your advisor is making plenty of cash that belongs in your pocket.
In the Bonds too much Canadian and too much in Bonds only glancing quickly.

I personally believe in ETF's , as soon as the word FUND enters the equation means it's managed and will have extra costs.

I will comment more later and then this from @GreatLakes is why you need to start planning, great response.
Quote
So the year you turn 72, you will have to withdraw 5.28% of the RRIF value at the end of the previous year. If you have $1M in your RRIF, you will be required to withdraw $52800. Now add approx $20k for CPP/OAS payments, and say you have $20k in pension income. Your income for the year is now over $90k, which could drive a higher tax rate than when you were working.

The other problem is OAS gets clawed back (I think the official name is OAS recovery tax) once your income goes above around $75k, by 15% for every dollar your income is above that threshold. It all gets clawed back by about $120k of income.
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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #26 on: March 20, 2017, 10:11:27 PM »
Thanks gang.  I am so fortunate to have you!

But for the love of god, this made me cranky @Hecker
Quote
Well, fuck.  Now we will learn about my biggest peeve about my old financial advisor, and I'm sorry to say will keep you up at night. 

http://fundfacts.bmo.com/advisorEnglish/BMO_Balanced_ETF_Portfolio_Class-EN-Advisor_Series.pdf

Section "How Much Does It Cost", page 2, 3.  - this will depend on how long you've owned the fund and which version he sold you.  Is he riding a carbon bike?

Did your friendly financial adviser sell you the Sales Charge, the Deferred Sales Charge or the no load/low load version?  If he's your "friend", he sold you the DSC and is over the course of 8 years moving a percentage over to the Upfront Sales Charge funds, which are considered "paid for".  If you hold onto the fund for 8 years, and didn't contribute in the past 8 years, then your fund is free to sell and move.  If not, they've got you in the handcuffs.  The low load only has handcuffs for three years. 

Our advisor, with our happy go lucky consent, moved $200K into this fund 18 months ago.  Which means we are exposed to either 5.5% Standard Deferred Sales Charge or a 2.0% Low Load Deferred Sales Charge.  ARGH!  And online I can't see which would apply.  I want to find out without confessing our imminent betrayal to our advisor.  I'll try the 1-800 number and disguise my voice.

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a quick google to fundfacts.bmo.com.  I know I never understood or even read these sheets my FA gave me.  It's worth your effort to understand them before you buy.

Same thing with any ETFs you plan on buying.  Understand them!  What are the fees, what is the asset allocation and how does it meet your goals? 

Thanks for the links to my funds.  Embarrassed to admit I hadn't read them before.  They were interesting.  And not rocket science.   

Quote
So if your RRSP gets too big you have a double whammy of getting hit with higher income tax rates, plus some or all of your OAS being clawed back.

Thanks for the run down on the drawbacks of high RRSPs @GreatLaker.  I wonder if it would make sense to slowly move my husbands RRSPs out into taxable accounts.  He runs the household with a frugal iron fist, loves his part time work and earns enough to pay for his bikes but not enough to pay taxes.  I contribute to a spousal RRSP to keep us both about even for when we head into retirement. 

I put a hold on the Millionaire Teacher book at the library and have been absorbing the info shared in the posts.  Thanks so much for helping me out.  I am excited!

Quote
PS - I'm in North Van and just got back from a 16k Seymour ride.  That's really why I'm helping so much.  Kindred spirit, random stranger.

I am jealous @Heckler ... but we did ski in the spring sunshine this afternoon.  Life is good.  Thanks again.

I am travelling this week and will really get down to business when I return.

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #27 on: March 20, 2017, 10:32:58 PM »
"He runs the household with a frugal iron fist, loves his part time work and earns enough to pay for his bikes but not enough to pay taxes.  "

This is what you must teach me about in return.

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #28 on: March 20, 2017, 10:40:40 PM »
Your last statement should define FE (Front End) or DSC (Deferred Service Charge) or LL (Low Load).  Take a look at that wad of paper he leaves  with you once a year.   Even the Fund Code should be listed on your statement (from the infosheet I linked):

Fund codes(s):
FE: GGF87491
DSC: GGF85491
LL: GGF86491



It's OK -- I did the exact same thing five years ago with Invesco.  Just sign the form to get back on the trails quicker. 
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 10:50:44 PM by Heckler »

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #29 on: March 20, 2017, 11:25:42 PM »
does anyone have the right tools to compare the 5 year performance of GGF86491 to it's relative index?  I tried in Investorline, but the fund isn't showing up on a chart I can compare with ETFs.  Morningstar.ca is being a bitch too.

I'm thinking GFF86491 is similar to this Vanguard/Ishares ETF portfolio:
16 VAB
19 VBU
10 unknown Fixed Income
(Total: 45 Fixed Income)

15 VCN
10 VDY
(Total: 25 Canada)

11 VFV
6 VGG
(Total: 17 US)

9 XIN
(Total: 9 International)

4 VEE
(Total: 4 Emerging)

Grand total: 100%


Found here:  https://www.vanguardcanada.ca/individual/etfs/etfs.htm

(I"m not recommending this portfolio, I'm just trying to compare rotten apples to rotten apples - then we compare a simple 3 fund portfolio)

« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 11:51:50 PM by Heckler »

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #30 on: March 20, 2017, 11:45:50 PM »
blissfulbiker, your statements should have comparisons to the relative index, similar to the graph above I got from Investorline.  The problem I have comparing this fund (I'm picking on your Balanced Fund) is that the fund is made up of many different narrow indexes, which all combine to a less volatile performance (you won't see the big market swings when US crashes but China skyrockets, which is awesome as intended!)  The low cost alternative is to use a few broad indexes.



« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 11:56:24 PM by Heckler »

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #31 on: March 21, 2017, 08:12:16 AM »
The more I look at the info @Heckler is sharing the more I cringe, you are missing out on so much return on your capital investment with BMO. I like that you used the three funds I personally invest with to do the Cost comparison on and how little they cost me over the long term. I'm still shocked that Vanguard was so little and the BMO fund would cost you 6 figures over the long run. This is what the banks don't tell you.
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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #32 on: March 22, 2017, 01:10:28 PM »
You are missing a taxable investment account in your assets. With your RRSP amount and maxed out TFSA there should be an investment account in your husbands name. Since he's low income it will be tax-free (marginal tax rate of 0%).

Your advisor isn't helping with a long term plan very well. He's not appearing versed on your allocations. In your shoes I would do more spousal RRSP, invest all his earnings in a seperate taxable account, fund his TFSA from your bank account (tax legal transfer) and get your tax liabilities lower. You have extra taxes owing in the future because of your current allocations.

It can all be fixed, it's not hard to reduce the tax burdens but it can take years of planning. Your planner should already have outlined the withdrawal strategies.

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #33 on: March 23, 2017, 11:18:47 AM »
I'm sorry for your situation there OP. But I have to tell you it's very very common.

It's amazing the stuff I see and hear about when it comes to personal finance. These certified and so-called professional advisors repeatedly make very amateur mistakes that they never get held to account on. Not to mention the exorbitant fees for this crappy service.

I've seen professional portfolios with duplicate funds upon duplicate funds upon almost identical funds with no consideration to cost and diversification for senior clients. I've seen advisors dump big contributions (I'm talking 6 figure deposits) into funds with DSC where they are getting a fat 4-5% right up front without their client having a clue. I've seen people with 7 figure accounts who are still investing in DSC funds with huge up front and trailing commissions attached where the client was never told about moving to low load funds that are much more appropriate for this portfolio size.

As far as I'm concerned, probably 90% of the personal finance professionals out there are not so professional. They are either scam artists, greed driven, or clueless. I'm personally leaning to the first two options. A lot of them are earning much more than 1% of assets through fund churn and client manipulation.

The solution is simple. Self manage your investments passively using good rules of thumb that are plentiful and free. Hire accountants and/or lawyers as appropriate on a fee basis for any other financial planning. Save yourself lots of money and headache in fees. Get rich with time and dedication.
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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #34 on: March 23, 2017, 08:13:31 PM »
Since reading MMM for the past three years, along with reading and researching on my own, we are now investing on our own through TD Webroker in VAB, VXC and VCN in our TFSAs, RRSPs, etc.  We also see a fee only advisor who is also a CA which has been very valuable to not only assess our portfolio, but to also advise on how best to approach our taxes.  The combination of an annual check in with the fee only advisor and investing on our own has been so worthwhile.  We are in the midst of selling a vacation property and our fee only advisor has advised us to plunk the proceeds into a Vanguard Dividend fund when it's finalized.
We still have a few GICs with the advisor we've been dealing with for about 20 years.
Another option might be investing with Steadyhand https://www.steadyhand.com/ as I understand the more invested, the lower the fees, which are lower than the banks to start with.
All the best.

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #35 on: March 26, 2017, 08:14:54 AM »
Good point on checking if there are deferred sales charge. I tend to forget about them. It takes a real shark of an adviser these days to sell DSC funds.

Some comments on the portfolio, from reviewing the images posted so not really detailed analysis. Looking at the entire portfolio as one asset allocation (excluding the RESP since it has a different use and timeline).
  • Looks like 20-25% fixed income, all in the RRSP.. reasonable
  • TFSA is all equity, makes sense since it will grow tax-free
  • Slightly overweighted in dividend stocks with the BMO tactical dividend fund. Reasonable
  • Huge overweighted to small caps...looks like almost 25% small cap... it's hard to believe I am interpreting that right
  • The BMO ETF funds make it hard to understand the real holdings... mutual funds holding a dozen ETFs that hold stocks. And what's with the NASDAQ and India ETFs in the BMO Balanced ETF Portfolio?
  • These BMO funds are probably an easy sell... investors ask about low-cost ETFs and the adviser responds with a mutual fund that holds 10 or more ETFs for greater diversification, and at only 1.75% MER instead of the 2.5% MER their regular MFs have. But really, BMO is bundling a bunch of ETFs with MERs from 0.05 for basic Cdn equity up to 0.7% for esoteric segments, but probably average cost = 0.25%, and they charge a 1.75% MER, keeping 1.5% for BMO. Toxic!
  • Except for the massive overweighting of small caps it's not that bad of an allocation. But the ETF portfolio funds make it hard to understand the asset allocation and risk, and the HUGE MERs are slowly converting the investor's retirement savings to the adviser's retirement savings

So a move to a simple low-cost index portfolio would be easier to understand and give better performance. Some questions you can set up some time with the adviser to discuss:
  • Why the huge overweight in small caps. Long term they have had higher return, but also more volatile
  • What's the plan to ensure the RRSP is not heavily taxed in the future? Might be hard for the adviser to really answer this one unless he is using software to model tax rates and expected rates of return, which is why they tend not to do it.
  • Plan for the RESP to gradually move to a less risky allocation as the kids get closer to needing the funds... don't want to have to withdraw from equities for mandatory tuition and education expenses
  • Determine if any of the funds have DSC, and if so the amount of any penalty and how it declines over time. Bury this question in among the other, so the adviser won't get suspicious.

Blissful Biker

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #36 on: March 29, 2017, 09:13:09 PM »
I am back from our fun spring break road trip to visit family in Alberta.  The kids were spoiled rotten by grandparents, aunts and uncles and loving it.  My family shows love through food so we all ate far too much.  Time to get back on the bike.   And back to work on my master financial plan, soaking in all your support and advice.  I told my family about how much helpful advice I had been receiving on this forum, and how it was going to change my life.  I converted my sister but the rest think I have joined a cult.

So here is where I am at:

1. My RRSP contributions come off my paycheck, including the company matching, and go to a Scotia McLeod GRRSP, in a spousal RSSP under my husbands name.  Historically we have pulled that money over to BMO every year(ish) to be included in the big pot managed my our friendly local BMO advisor.  This Scotia pot is now $38K and my plan is to move it over to Investorline to start my foray into self directed investing. 

2. I started setting up an Investorline account only to realize that I can not manage a spousal RRSP under my own account.  So my husband is in the process of setting up an Investorline account.

3. My plan is to use the $38K to practice setting up and managing a portfolio of ETFs until the summer when we have our annual meeting with our advisor.  I will do loads of studying (on this forum and books) between now and then so I am prepared with all the right questions, take full advantage the financial plan he will prepare and have the courage to then move the big pot of money ($1MM) over to Investorline and be the master of my own destiny.

Which brings me to the million dollar question:  What should I invest in my practice $38K in?  Canadian Couch Potato seems well respected.  Should I just use one of his portfolios?  Is that easy?  Or should I try to mirror what my advisor has me in?  @heckler gave an example of that.

 http://canadiancouchpotato.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/CCP-Model-Portfolios-ETFs-2016.pdf

I tend towards growth but my husband prefers balanced.  Perhaps halfway between those two CCP portfolios is the right answer for us.  This money needs to keep us in burritos and bikes for 40 or 50 years.

Thanks again.  Your help is very appreciated.


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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #37 on: March 30, 2017, 12:33:31 AM »
Did you catch the tail end of this balmy Alberta warm front?

With the 38k you can't go wrong using a CCP 3 fund portfolio. If your husband is risk adverse, use 30-40% bonds. For your bond I would lean towards VSB.TO as it tend to be even less volatile.

So, 50% XAW.TO, 15% VCN.TO, 35% VSB.TO should be close to good.
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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #38 on: March 30, 2017, 01:08:09 AM »
With IL, you can setup a UserID that links all your accounts to one login - very handy.  You can also link it to your BMO online banking.

With the near term plan of porting over a big pile of dough, I still say your practuce should be planning in excel to determine your asset allocation and location.  Then I'd take the $38k, transfer it using BMO IL account transfer forms found in your online account.   I usually walk the transfer form to a BMO branch and get a copy of the fax transmission form.  Make sure to transfer in cash - not in kind- if you plan to buy low cost ETFs instead of your current holdings.  Otherwise you'll pay $9.95 to IL to sell your old funds.

As to practice trading, I made a couple low value buys to figure it out $500 or so.  Then I would just buy one ETF to start with - $39k is a very small percentage of your holdings. No point in splitting it up right away - the rest of your funds are plenty diverse!

With multiple account  - spousal, RSP, TFSA x2, you can reduce trading commissions significantly by holding only one or max two ETFs per account.  Remember, you will also be paying $9.95 to sell an etf and take money out.  How often is up to you to decide - consider it your personal MER! 

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #39 on: March 30, 2017, 01:20:40 AM »
"I am thinking I'll start with $40K from our RRSP and learn the ropes for a few months.  If all goes well, take over the rest of the RRSP ($810K) but leave the TFSA ($120K) and RESP ($120K) with our advisor."

What do mean by if all goes well?


I'm sure you will be able to figure out how to set up an account place a trade - that'll go well, but you might lose a bit if you get ask/bid values mixed up. Worst case you call up IL and they walk you through it. 

What may not go well is the stock market crashes and you blame ETFs and not the market.  That will be a function of your chosen asset allocation and diversification.  Is your IPS strong enough to stick with it if it doesnt appear to go well short term?  Is hubbie's?   

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #40 on: March 30, 2017, 10:06:01 AM »
You are overthinking this, transfer your money into index funds and let it do it's work.
Read my journal or that of @Chaplin or @Retire-Canada as good places to see how we use the Canadian Couch Potato ETF Vanguard portfolio. Heckler and Great Laker have provided great advice additionally, have faith in this proven investing strategy.

Everyday you hesitate is another day you are loosing 1-2% in MER fees each month lining BMO's bank accounts rather than your own.
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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #41 on: March 30, 2017, 09:18:32 PM »

So here is where I am at:

1. My RRSP contributions come off my paycheck, including the company matching, and go to a Scotia McLeod GRRSP, in a spousal RSSP under my husbands name.    This Scotia pot is now $38K and my plan is to move it over to Investorline to start my foray into self directed investing. 

2. I started setting up an Investorline account only to realize that I can not manage a spousal RRSP under my own account.  So my husband is in the process of setting up an Investorline account.

3. My plan is to use the $38K to practice setting up and managing a portfolio of ETFs until the summer when we have our annual meeting with our advisor. I will do loads of studying (on this forum and books) between now and then so I am prepared with all the right questions, take full advantage the financial plan he will prepare and have the courage to then move the big pot of money ($1MM) over to Investorline and be the master of my own destiny.

Which brings me to the million dollar question:  What should I invest in my practice $38K in? 

Thanks again.  Your help is very appreciated.

Based on your comments, you are looking to actively learn about investing through practical, hands-on activity.

My two cents -- take $33k and do a Canadian Couch potato..  The ETF version, and set yourself for rebalancing every 3 months (that is the learning part).

Take the remaining $5k and do the research to find a specific company stock to invest in.  Take it slowly, do your research, read the annual report, and then start tracking it.  It may take 3 months to find something, and that is Ok. I would also recommend investing in a US dollar stock, so you learn about currency exchange with your Investor line at the same time.

Why?  It is not because of the fabulous returns, but about the learning you will get in how money is generated, distributed (dividends), and how stock valuations gain and lose value based on news reports, and so on.  Even if you lose money, (a bit), the learning curve is better than any course you could take.   Having real money on the table will amplify the learning process, but limit your losses (if any).

 
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 09:21:52 PM by Goldielocks »

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #42 on: March 30, 2017, 09:40:10 PM »
Replying mostly to follow, as our situations are quite similar and you're getting a lot of good advice here! I also recently decided to go self-directed RRSP through BMO. So far all I've done is had them move all of the RRSP mutual fund holdings into the Investorline account. Have just left it for a couple months as I was not feeling brave enough to tackle it just yet, but at least it's in my control to sell and buy ETFs now. I will read the advice in this thread more thoroughly this weekend and get this done soon. It has been on the to-do list for a while, but procrastinating due to dread. The funds have done pretty well over the years, but THOSE FEES. Yikes. I don't want to calculate. Just get out and move onward and upward.

Thanks for posting!
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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #43 on: March 30, 2017, 11:14:01 PM »
so, here's all the funds you own today.  What do you notice about your total asset allocation?

You are trying to teach me something with this question @heckler.  I looked at the charts you posted, looked some more, looked again and came up dry.  I do not really know what my asset allocation should be so nothing strikes me as odd.
 
With the near term plan of porting over a big pile of dough, I still say your practice should be planning in excel to determine your asset allocation and location. 

I am seeing a theme here.  I obviously need to get my asset allocation figured out.  Let's start with what categories should I use.  The simplest would be 3 categories (stocks, bonds, cash) and then it could become increasing more granular to an infinite number of categories.

Your comment says "asset allocation and location".  What is location?  I totally dig spreadsheets.  I have a one to track net worth and annual spend.  Seeing a graph of the income at 4%SWR slowly converge with actual annual spend is satisfying.  I want to understand what you are tracking on your sheet and add it to mine. 
"I am thinking I'll start with $40K from our RRSP and learn the ropes for a few months.  If all goes well, take over the rest of the RRSP ($810K) but leave the TFSA ($120K) and RESP ($120K) with our advisor."

What do mean by if all goes well?

What may not go well is the stock market crashes and you blame ETFs and not the market.  That will be a function of your chosen asset allocation and diversification.  Is your IPS strong enough to stick with it if it doesnt appear to go well short term?  Is hubbie's?   

By "all goes well" I was really just referring to achieving a confidence level where I felt comfortable controlling the money myself.  It is not a responsibility to take lightly and I am not there yet.  I am still googling the acronyms in the advice being shared.  But I will get there, and when I do I have a good tolerance for the ups and downs of the markets.  I understand that we need to accept some risk to make reasonable returns over our long and blissful future.  I want to invest the time now
Did you catch the tail end of this balmy Alberta warm front?

With the 38k you can't go wrong using a CCP 3 fund portfolio. If your husband is risk adverse, use 30-40% bonds. For your bond I would lean towards VSB.TO as it tend to be even less volatile.

So, 50% XAW.TO, 15% VCN.TO, 35% VSB.TO should be close to good.
to set up a good plan, move the money and then leave it be.

Read my journal or that of @Chaplin or @Retire-Canada as good places to see how we use the Canadian Couch Potato ETF Vanguard portfolio. Heckler and Great Laker have provided great advice additionally, have faith in this proven investing strategy.
Thank you@Stacher.  I will!

Did you catch the tail end of this balmy Alberta warm front?

Yes, it was beautiful in Alberta.  Thanks for the advice.  Your blog is great @mr rich moose.  Another great resource in my learning journey. 


My husband set up his Investorline account but had to print and mail away a form to add me as a 3rd party to his account.  Yes, with an envelope and a stamp.  Thankfully the post office cave is near our cave.

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #44 on: March 30, 2017, 11:34:57 PM »
My links in post 16 & especially 17. Worthy of full understanding.

Your risk level is based on the percentage if cash/short term bonds/long term bonds/domestic stock/international stock.  The further up that scale you go, the riskier it gets short term, but the more return you can get long term. 

http://canadiancouchpotato.com/2010/11/10/ready-willing-and-able-to-take-risk/

CCP has so many great articles. Scroll down on his homepage to the catagories section and start devouring. Most articles are general knowledge, others are very specific technogarble. Ignore the latter.   His earlier articles are more about the basics.

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #45 on: March 31, 2017, 07:43:27 AM »
My point about your current asset allocation and risk level is its very complicated to know your current bonds/equity ratio.   Therefore your portfolio risk level is unknown and impossible to rebalance with all your funds of funds.  I hope your annual report has a total accounts allocation chart, but I doubt it covers the complete bonds/equity across of all your accounts.

meghan88

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #46 on: March 31, 2017, 07:17:31 PM »
posting to follow.

Blissful Biker

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #47 on: April 01, 2017, 10:14:37 PM »
I am finally into InvestorLine!  Wow, so much information, so much fast paced data, so much power at my fingertips.  I have only just started to explore and see that they do have some educational tools, such as recommending an asset allocation.  I haven't moved any money yet, still learning the tool.

Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam is a great story of frugal living and low-cost investing by a Canadian Author with a global perspective. I borrowed it from the library.
https://www.amazon.ca/Millionaire-Teacher-Wealth-Should-Learned/dp/1119356296
The book arrived in town today on an intralibrary loan.  Look's like a really great book.  It will be my bed time reading this week. Thanks @GreatLaker.

My point about your current asset allocation and risk level is its very complicated to know your current bonds/equity ratio.   Therefore your portfolio risk level is unknown and impossible to rebalance with all your funds of funds.  I hope your annual report has a total accounts allocation chart, but I doubt it covers the complete bonds/equity across of all your accounts.

My BMO report shows only an asset allocation with two categories in the pie chart - Balanced Funds (57%) and Growth Funds (43%).  I have been content with that previously but am starting to see the need for more granularity.  I am interested to see what information investorline will provide on asset allocations within EFTs.  I assume that is what your spreadsheet tracks to keep you balanced.

There is a gang of kids at my house for a sleep over and the noise level is steadily escalating.  Better sign off before the house burns down.  Thanks again for all your help.

Heckler

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Re: Should I use a Canadian robo-advisor? If so, which one?
« Reply #48 on: April 02, 2017, 08:08:56 AM »
The AA tools are basic at best and only for one account in IL. I keep a spreadsheet and track dollar. Alues, knowing that my. aB and VSB are fixed income, VCN is Canada and VTI is USA. Thats the point of a simple three fund portfolio.  (Un)fortunately we have multiple accounts so a spreadsheet is absolutely mandatory.