Using a financial advisor to help with big financial and investment decisions can be costly. But, of course, if you want good advice and are willing to pay for it, the fee can be worth it.
That doesn’t mean you have to pay the highest fees. Through a combination of robo and human advising, For those who live in Canada, CI Direct Investing provides personal financial and investment advice at affordable prices. In this article, we’ll review what CI Direct Investing has to offer.
- Robo-advisor that also provides access to human advisors.
- Management fees range from 0.35% to 0.60%.
- Minimum investment of $1,000 required to open an account.
CI Direct Investing Details
CI Direct Investing
0.35% to 0.60%
Taxable, RRSP, TFSA, RESP, RDSP, Savings, and more
Who Is CI Direct Investing?
CI Direct Investing is a robo-advisor and part of CI Financial, one of Canada’s largest investment companies since 1965. They are based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Tea Nicola is the co-founder and CEO.
CI Financial recently acquired WealthBar. The WealthBar website has changed to cidirectinvesting.com. CI Financial is a registered Portfolio Manager in all provinces and territories in Canada. CI Direct Investing has more than $450 million in assets under management.
The idea behind CI Direct Investing is to bring professional financial advice to the masses without the professional cost.
“We thought, ‘maybe it’s time for us to figure out a way to deliver that same level of professionalism and that level of investment sophistication without the overhead – bring it down to $1,000 as opposed to a million,” said Nicola in an interview with The Globe And Mail. “That was the beginning of WealthBar.”
What Do They Offer?
CI Direct Investing provides professional personal financial and investment management/advice at an affordable price. The minimum to get started is $1,000. CI Direct Investing handles much of its investment management through robo-advising.
However, you also have access to a human financial advisor, which is a Certified Financial Planner® and is included with the service. Advisors don’t work on commissions and you can access them as much as you need. They are available by phone or email or you can message them directly from your dashboard.
After entering your financial information, including goals and objectives, CI Direct will match you with the right portfolio based on your account type. From there, it will handle management and rebalancing of the portfolio.
CI Direct is available for the following types of accounts:
- Non-Registered (Taxable)
- Group savings accounts
- Spousal RRSP
- Spousal RRIF
- RESPs for Quebec residents
- Individual pension plans
- Charitable organizations
- Personal pension plans
- Trust accounts
CI Direct Investing offers two different portfolio types to invest in -- ETF and private investment. Whether you're investing in the ETF or private investing portfolio, you have the option of adding Cleantech (socially responsible investment or SRI) investments.
While the ETF portfolios are low-cost and fairly stable, the private investment portfolios have higher MER Fees and are driven to perform.
Private Investment Portfolios
The private investing portfolio invests in more unconventional assets such as:
Many of the above investments are usually reserved for those who have more than $1 million to invest. However, CI Direct Investing has made them available to all of its customers. Additionally, private investing portfolios are managed by a team of experienced money managers.
As you move from top to bottom in the list of portfolios, returns increase but so does volatility. Five-year returns range from 3.34% to 7.34% and volatility ranges from 2.61% to 10.20%, respectively.
Are There Any Fees?
Being a robo-advisor that also gives full access to CFPs, CI Direct’s fees are fairly low. Fees are charged on a sliding scale, based on AUM (Assets Under Management). The more you have invested with CI Direct, the lower the fee will be:
- First $150,0000 — 0.60% annually
- Next $350,000 — 0.40% annually
- Above $500,000 — 0.35% annually
As previously discussed, each portfolio will also have its own underlying MER fees that are paid directly to the funds (ranging from 0.19% to 1.40%).
How Do I Open An Account?
You can visit the CI Direct Investing website to open an account. You'll need to provide the following information on your application:
- Social insurance number
- Spouse's social insurance number (for Spousal or Joint accounts)
- Employment details
- Spouse's employment details (when applicable)
- Banking information (transit, institution, and account)
- Approximate balances of investment assets (eg. RRSP, TFSA)
- Approximate balances of non-mortgage debts
You'll also need to answer a few questions about your risk tolerance, investment goals, and the type of account that you want to open.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes. CI Direct’s custodians use the Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) for customer accounts. This protects up to $1 million of your funds.
Is It Worth It?
With the combination of human CFP financial advisors and robo-advisor management, CI Direct Investing provides a lot of value for the fee. Having access to a CFP whenever you need one at no extra cost is almost worth the price alone.
CI Direct Investing is a large and reliable company, but you might find smaller companies offering comparable services for a little less. Be sure to compare its portfolios, services, and fees with a few other popular Canadian robo-advisors like Wealthsimple, Questwealth, and Justwealth.
CI Direct Investing Features
Portfolio MER Fees
Private Investment Portfolios:
Socially Responsible Investments
Access to Human Advisor
Yes, included in management fee
Customer Service Number
Customer Service Email
Other Customer Support Options
Direct messaging with personal financial advisor from dashboard
Mobile App Availability
iOS and Android
CI Direct Investing Review
- Commissions and Fees
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service
- Portfolio Options
- Features and Tools
CI Direct Investing is a Canadian online financial advisor that manages low-cost robo-advisor portfolios and offers unlimited access to CFPs.
- Low-cost ETF portfolios
- Unlimited access to your CFP human advisor
- Socially responsible investing (SRI) option
- Solid website and app experience
- $1,000 minimum investment
- Other robo-advisors have lower starting fees
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.