VirtualWealth 2020 Review: A Great Robo Advisor For Canadians

August 19, 2020
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VirtualWealth is an Aviso Wealth robo advisor that offers low-cost ETFs and mutual funds in a straight-forward manner, ideal for both high and low risk investors. It offers 6 different portfolios depending on your risk aversion, that will let you choose between fixed income funds, long-term stocks or a mix of the two. In this VirtualWealth review you’ll find all you need to know about this no-nonsense robo advisor.

What is VirtualWealth?

VirtualWealth is a robo advisor that is a division of Aviso Wealth which is a national, integrated financial services company. Aviso Wealth actually serves the management needs of all Canadian credit unions along with some of the independent financial organizations and individual investors. 

VirtualWealth promises to deliver experienced investment management, financial strength backed up by Canada’s cooperative financial network, proven online investment technology among other things.

How to open an account with VirtualWealth

Step 1: Visit The VirtualWealth Website

The whole process is online, so the first thing you obviously need to do to get started is to go to VirtualWealth’s website and click on “Open an account”.

Step 2: Provide Basic User Account Info

This means filling a form with your full name, email address and a new password. You must be careful to put your legal name and avoid making any mistakes, else the account could be terminated during the verification process, or you could run into issues when funding or withdrawing from your account.

Step 3: Answer Their Goals-Based Questionnaire

This will give them an insight into who you are, what your risk tolerance is and what you expect to get out of your investment account.

Step 4: Verify And Fund Your Account

After you fill in all the required information, you will need to verify your identity so have your Social Security number at hand. Once you’re approved, you can proceed to fund your account. You can do this with a simple online bank transfer, but we’ll get to that further down the post.

Step 5: Start Saving!

Yes, the process is very straightforward! Everything can be done online with no problems!

VirtualWealth Review: An Overview

We’ve analyzed all the nitty-gritty details about the different features of this robo advisor and scored it on a 10 points scale on 10 distinct categories. The following table summarizes VirtualWealth’s scores.

Minimum Deposit 10
Service Fees6
MER Fees10
Portfolio Options6
Portfolio Performance5
Usability10
Deposit and Withdrawal Options10
Human Advice 10
Customer Service8
Referral Program0
Total75
We recommend VirtualWealth: If you’re looking for a simple, straight-forward robo advisor with low-cost ETFs and mutual funds.
We don’t recommend VirtualWealth: If you’re looking for a Robo advisor with more customizable portfolio options. If this is the case, then we suggest that you check our post on Justwealth.

Let’s go in-depth and break down each of the 10 scores and how VirtualWealth performs in each.

#1 Minimum Deposit

VirtualWealth doesn’t require a minimum amount to open and set up an account. However, your balance will need to reach $2,000 or more in order for the money to be invested in the portfolio that better suits your needs and preferences.

VirtualWealth Review Minimum Deposit Score: 10/10

#2 Service Fees

The fees for VirtualWealth are charged per account and are subject to change. Nevertheless, you’ll get at least 60 days’ notice of any new or amended fees, giving you more than enough time to act to your best interest. VirtualWealth does not charge commissions on trades and if you decide to close your account, you’re required to pay accrued unpaid management fees up to the closing date.

As for the costs associated with investing with this robo advisor, management fees depend on how much is actually on your account. The rule of thumb is that the more money you have in your account, the lower the management fee VirtualWealth charges you to invest your funds. As of writing this post, the fee structure looka more or less like this:

Portfolio valueAnnual rate
First $2,000 to $100,0000.60%
Next $400,0000.50%
Next $500,0000.40%
Above $1 million0.35%

So for example, if you invest $10,000, your annual management fee will be $60,00 or about $5.00 monthly. As you can see, the fees tend to be rather high for low-balance accounts, making it a bit harder to for your investment to become profitable for you. The only real scenario in which VirtualWealth offers great fees is when you have a lot invested with them, which makes this robo advisor lose a lot of points in our opinion.

VirtualWealth Review Service Fees Score: 6/10

#3 MER Fees

VirtualWealth portfolios are made up of low-cost exchange-traded funds and mutual funds. The average Management Exchange Rate (MER) for a portfolio will vary according to your asset mix, but typically for ETF portfolios, these tend to be less than 0.15% and for responsible investing portfolios, which have additional layers of scrutiny and require more active account management, they range between 0.72%-0.96%.

These are some of the lowest MER fees of all robo advisors, giving VirtualWealth a solid 10/10 in our scoring system.

VirtualWealth Review MER Fees Score: 10/10

#4 Portfolio Options

With VirtualWealth you get low-cost, efficient investing that works by holding a strategic mix of different kinds of investments, so your money is put into Canadian, U.S. and global stocks and bonds by using ETFs

Like most portfolios, VirtualWealth offers options that are made to fit a range of different objectives and tailored to different investors. So depending on your goals and risk tolerance, you get more stocks if you’re focused on long-term growth or more bonds in you prefer income and safety. You can even get a blend of both for a balanced approach. Here are the portfolio options offered by VirtualWealth:

Income 

  • 20% equity
  • 80% Fixed income

This portfolio is best for conservative investors, with this portfolio you’ll get income with lower emphasis on capital appreciation. You’ll get to protect your capital and avoid the discomfort of fluctuating markets and it is also ideal to for those who have relatively short savings time frames. 

Income & Growth

  • 35% Equity
  • 65% Fixed income 

This portfolio is ideal for those who want to protect their capital while having some limited exposure to potential stock market volatility. With this portfolio you’ll achieve consistent income with some capital growth. 

Balanced 

  • 50% Equity
  • 50% Fixed income 

Ideal for those who want to protect their capital, keep consistent income but don’t mind some fluctuating market volatility to achieve moderate growth. What this portfolio does is to provide equal emphasis on regular income and capital appreciation. 

Growth Income 

  • 65% Equity 
  • 35% Fixed Income

Great for those looking to prioritized capital appreciation more than income, and have a savings timeframe that will be long enough to recover if a market downturn were to happen. This portfolio provides long-term capital growth along with some income. 

Growth

  • 80% Equity
  • 20% Fixed Income

Great for those investors who are more oriented towards growth and don’t mind the market fluctuation as long as they get more growth in the long term. This portfolio focuses on capital appreciation with a small allocation for investments that generate income. 

Maximum Growth 

  • 100% Equity

Best for aggressive investors who are definitely not bothered by market fluctuations and have high risk tolerance. This portfolio focuses entirely on long-term capital appreciation, so you get more capital growth and a long savings timeframe. 

So many options to choose from make this a very versatile robo advisor that’s a good fit for almost any type of investor. However, it does lack some other types of portfolios like responsible or green investment portfolios or portfolios tailored to comply with Islamic law, like some of the ones Wealthsimple offers.

VirtualWealth Review Portfolio Options Score: 6/10

#5 Portfolio Performance

VirtualWealth does not disclose its portfolio information on its website. However, you can get this information simply by emailing them and they will answer you. They share each portfolio report sheet based on your investment interests since they offer six portfolio models. Here are the return rates for some of their portfolios:

PortfolioReturn rate after 1 year (as of March 2020)
Balanced RI Portfolio-2,4%
Balanced ETF Portfolios-2,9%

And you can compare them to their performance from last year:

PortfolioReturn rate after 1 year (as of December 2019)
Balanced RI Portfolio13.9%
Balanced ETF Portfolios13.9%

Of course, it is worth knowing that good past performance does not imply that the portfolio will do well in the future, as we all witnessed with the crash of the global economic system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is still very useful to keep this information in mind, mostly as a way to study the way each portfolio may tend to perform throughout the year.

Compared to other robo advisors, VirtualWealth’s performance is not great but it’s not bad either, awarding it a mediocre score in this dimension.

VirtualWealth Review Portfolio Performance Score: 5/10

#6 Usability 

Besides its very user-friendly website, VirtualWealth is one of the few robo advisors to also offer a mobile app.

The app has ratings of 3.9 in the Apple Store and no reviews or ratings so far in the Google Play Store. No complaints about bugs or any incompatibility issues suggest that, overall, the app seems to be practical and easy to use. Overall, this is one of the easiest to use and most intuitive robo advisor available for Canadians today.

Virtual Wealth ease of use

VirtualWealth Review Usability Score: 10/10

#7 Deposit and Withdrawal Options

VirtualWealth is not the most versatile when it comes to deposit and withdrawal options, but it does perform very well in this category.

For deposit, VirtualWealth offers:

  • Funds transfers (EFT or direct debit from your bank account)
  • Bill payments
  • Account transfers

As for withdrawals, they offer direct deposits to your bank accounts or account transfers.

Even though VirtualWealth lacks other trendy funding and withdrawing options like credit cards and services like PayPal or Skrill, the options it does offer seem to be more than enough to most users.

VirtualWealth Review Deposit & Withdrawal Options Score: 10/10

#8 Human Advice

With VirtualWealth, users will get access to one of their licensed advisors and can discuss any portfolio changes deemed necessary. This is all offered for no additional cost other than the one included in your annual management fee. Sadly, as of right now, they do now offer any financial planning advice. 

VirtualWealth Review Human Advice Score: 10/10

#9 Customer Service

For inquiries, you may reach their customer service line from 6am to 5pm PT and they’ll be happy to help you. Here is their contact information:

  • Phone number: 1.844.622.4500
  • Email: info@virtualwealth.ca

The only caveat of VIrtualWealth’s customer service is the fact that it’s not 24/7, or even 24/5. However, they do offer good response times and a very helpful team of specialists at your disposal.

VirtualWealth Customer Service Score: 8/10

#10 Referral Program

As of right now, VirtualWealth does not offer a referral program. 

VirtualWealth Review Referral Program Score: 0/10

Who Should Sign Up For VirtualWealth?

VirtualWealth definitely comes to the scene as a great robo advisor. A solid choice for those looking for an investment solution. While rates are average, the customer experience they offer is very good. They do reply quite fast to emails and are overall very helpful. Plus, they offer the assistance of their advisors whenever you need them to help you regarding your investments, which is also very good. 

VirtualWealth offers 6 model portfolios with decent return rates. While past performance does not really guarantee anything, it still is very insightful to know about it since it gives clients an idea of what to expect. So, if you’re looking for a no-nonsense robo advisor that will help you earn passive income without the hassle of becoming a trader yourself, then you should definitely give VirtualWealth a shot.

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