Meet the Entrepreneur Shaking Up the Investing Industry

Michael Katchen's Wealthsimple offers a cheaper alternative to expensive advisors

Written by As told to Joe Castaldo

Michael Katchen, 27, launched Wealthsimple in February 2014. Wealthsimple’s software automatically constructs and rebalances portfolios for clients; the company aims to shake up the advisory industry with its low-fee model. Here, Katchen tells Joe Castaldo how WealthSimple came about:

Photo: Raina + Wilson

I’ve been investing since I was 12 years old. As I got older, my friends would come to me for investment advice. I eventually set up a very simple Excel spreadsheet that showed, step by step, how to put together a robust portfolio on your own.

“The feedback I got was, “I love this, but can’t you just manage my money for me?” That was the genesis of Wealthsimple. Young professionals making a good living want to be saving and investing; they want a solution that’s simple and low cost, and don’t have time to do it themselves.

“One reason I hate the term “robo adviser” is that with our model, every client gets a dedicated adviser, a flesh-and-blood human being. Transparency is at the core of what we do, too. When you sign in to our site or app, you see how much money you put in, how much you’ve made, what you’ve paid in fees and the total value of your portfolio. We’re trying to make it intuitive.

“Then there’s pricing. We charge a fifth of what the industry charges right now, because we can keep our costs low. The industry has to adapt. This is the way things are moving, and it’s moving very, very quickly.”

This article is from the PROFIT section of the March 2015 issue of Canadian Business. Subscribe now!


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