An app-centric but human approach to smart investing: interview with Wealthsimple

“Never take money for granted or be frivolous in … spending” advises your bank – no wait, that was Elijah Wood, interviewed by Davy Rothbart for Wealthsimple. Personal stories from celebrities are a great idea for getting people to listen to good financial advice! We caught up with the Wealthsimple team and found that taking a fresh look at money is central to their mission to “make smart investing simple and affordable” for everyone:

At Wealthsimple you describe yourselves as “a whole new kind of investing service” – what is the difference?

Our mission is to make investing transparent, low-cost and accessible to anyone, no matter their age or net worth.

We invest your money in a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds modelled after the same Nobel Prize-winning research used by the world’s savviest investors. This way you can take advantage of world-class, long-term investment management without the high fees and account minimums associated with traditional investment managers.

Secondly, Wealthsimple stands out from the crowd with exceptional product design that’s beautifully designed and personalised for the end-user.
With one glance you can get a clear idea of how your money is working for you: how much you’ve invested, where it has been invested, your earnings and account.

Wealthsimple: “Our app makes it easy for anyone to get started investing, no matter who they are or how much money they have.”

With a commitment to product innovation, Wealthsimple’s website has won the prestigious Webby Award for Best Financial Services/Banking website two years in a row.

Thirdly we aim to humanise the world of money and investing, and our creative content is a big part of this. Wealthsimple’s Magazine unpacks difficult financial decisions, uses unique subcultures to help people understand the way economies work, and talks to interesting people (like Elijah Wood) about their life-long relationship with money.

How long have you been around?

We were founded by a team of wealth management experts and tech entrepreneurs in 2014. Wealthsimple has grown into a leading digital investment manager with over 65,000 clients globally and £1.2 billion in assets. Backed by $165 million (CAD) in investment from Power Financial Corporation, Wealthsimple is available in the UK, Canada and the US and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to our Toronto headquarters in 2017 when we celebrated reaching $1billion in assets, saying, “Wealthsimple is an example of fin-tech at its finest … The success of this business has turned heads all over the world.”

We launched in the US in January 2017, and the UK in September 2017 given our ambitions to become a global player.

How do new users get started?

Our app makes it easy for anyone to get started investing, no matter who they are or how much money they have. One of our innovations is that we’ve made the process incredibly easy — it should take about five minutes.

You sign up online, answer a few questions that will help us figure out the best investment strategy for you, and then we recommend an investment portfolio optimised to help you reach your financial goals (buying a home, saving for retirement etc.)

Our clients come from all backgrounds:

  • 40% of clients are first time investors
  • 80% are under the age of 45
  • 50% of clients sign up with our Socially Responsible Investing Portfolio

What if investors need help?

We’re simplifying investing by making it human. So many of us find investing complicated and overwhelming. That leaves us feeling out of control.

We simplify it so that you can get on with your life. You also always have the option to speak to our team of human advisors who are always on hand to walk you through your own portfolio or any questions you may have.

It used to be that unless you had a lot of money, you couldn’t get access to really great financial tools and advice. So that meant lots of people – and younger folks in particular – weren’t being served by the financial services industry.

We’re also working to build more financial advice into our app to make it more helpful and provide the same type of advice we offer through our human investment team. This way great investment advice is accessible to everyone through technology.

Can you give our readers a good bit of investing advice?

We recommend focusing on long term investing, meaning 3-5+ years, so we do often remind people to drown out the noise and not check the stock markets daily.

Having said that we see about 1 in 3 of our clients checking their Wealthsimple app every day!

Find out more:

Wealthsimple describe their service as “investing on autopilot” – find out more (with a very clever bit of web design) here:

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