Wealthsimple Inc., the robo advisor favoured by millennials, is expanding in the opposite end of the Canadian wealth spectrum — services for high-net worth families.
The investment firm’s Wealthsimple to Advisors unit will provide technology, dealer and advisory services to Grayhawk Investment Strategies Inc., a Calgary-based firm that manages about $800 million for 30 of Canada’s richest families. Wealthsimple will then offer Grayhawk strategies to advisors with wealthy clients on its platform.
“We still are often thought of as a young millennial shop, and even in our advisor business a lot of people think of us as a ‘Mom and Pop’ advisor,” Wealthsimple Chief Executive Officer Mike Katchen said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office. “But this is a very ultra high-net-worth professional shop that’s been growing very fast — it’s only four years old — that understand the value of a platform like ours.”
The move is all part of Katchen’s plan to transform the Toronto-based firm into a broad-based financial services company. It has been rolling out new offerings, including commission-free trading, and Katchen’s ambitions could include checking accounts, credit lines, mortgages and life insurance.
“We think that there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build that kind of platform, based here in Canada, but expanding it around the world,” Katchen, 31, said. “It’s pretty obvious where we’re going to go: we want to be the mainstay of our clients’ financial lives.”
Wealthsimple, 67-per-cent-owned by the Desmarais family’s Power Financial Corp., has more than $5 billion in assets under management and 175,000 customers in Canada, the U.S. and U.K. He sees that reaching $1 trillion 15 years.
“We’re just getting started,” he said. “Our plans are to get to millions of clients in the next five years.”
The company has about 400 advisors and a number of firms already using this wealth-management platform. Grayhawk becomes the first major family office to adopt it.