Robo Advisors A Touch More Human In Canada

December 29, 2016 For instance, prior to elections or other macro events, do you get calls from worried clients? How is that relationship in general?

Joanes: In general, it's very nonhuman interaction. For example, and this is where we leverage technology, with all the macro events—the beginning-of-the-year correction, Brexit, as well as the election—we see these things unfold. Because they happen on a global scale, we see it happening and we prepare messages.

We add messages to the client's dashboard, so when they log on, they’ll see a message, and it’ll explain what's happening. We provide some context as to why it's happened, what we expect to see going forward and what we’re going to do, if anything.

And so, when the client logs on, they see this message and it provides a level of comfort. Over this year, there were those three major market events. Not one of our clients pulled out money. We didn't send them emails, so we didn't panic them. But if they were concerned and they logged in, they saw a message. Some of them replied to it. And we noticed that, on those days, or around those events, we saw higher log-in rates.

If we can predict what's coming down the line in terms of a client's concerns and we address that in a way you can communicate to them and they can see it first and foremost, it gives them that level of comfort so they don't need to reach out and actually have a conversation with someone.

But there are those that do. So some will see the message and say, “OK; so how should I deal with this now given that my portfolio's like this?” We follow up and we have conversations with those clients that require it. Would you describe your client base as wide cohort, or are you seeing a younger clientele?

Joanes: I'd say it's very diversified. We have clients ranging from 19 years old to 88, which I think is our oldest client. We are seeing it barbelled between the retirees and preretirees, and the working millennials.

Initially we found that the older clients were a surprise, but having spent more time working with them, we understand that they've got more time to focus on retirement. They don't find technology as inhibiting because they do a lot of stuff on a daily basis online.

We also realized that they need a little bit more attention and they have different requirements in terms of account types. And we also noticed that they're being underserved by the advisor market here in Canada, for example, in that they have depleted accounts and they may not meet some minimums held by traditional advisors. We’ve also seen a larger-than-expected growth in the preretirees.


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