RBC InvestEase 2020 Review: Everything You Need To Know

May 28, 2020
Reviews
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RBC InvestEase is a known Canadian robo advisor that caters to investors that are rather risk-averse. By offering a low risk investment portfolio, they ensure low losses, but also low profits. If you want to start investing with a robot advisor but don’t want to risk your money too much, InvestEase is definitely a good choice.

If you are familiar with Online digital investment managers, aka robo advisors, you know they’ve been around in Canada for a few years and they’ve also been well-liked. Recently, the trend for banks is to jump in the robo advisor industry, much like other fintech giants like Wealthsimple and WealthBar. This is how RBC InvestEase comes to be, but first…

What is RBC InvestEase?

RBC InvestEase is an online investment management service whose goal is to simplify your investing with the added expertise of real advisors while leaving all the investing work to them. Sounds very convenient right? They also provide you with investment plans based on your needs and answers to their simple questionnaire. Once you’re done with that questionnaire, they’ll invest your money in a portfolio of carefully selected exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on your behalf and then, accredited advisors will keep an eye on them to help you stay on track.

How to open an account with RBC InvestEase?

So, as mentioned before, the use of RBC InvestEase is fairly simple but let’s go over each step.

Step 1: The Questionnaire

The first step is obviously to register, but as you do so, you must also answer a few questions. These questions are designed to recommend an investment portfolio for you. The point of the questionnaire is to tell them a bit about yourself, what you’re saving for and which account type do you want and then, a portfolio advisor will call you to confirm if your investment plan and portfolio suit your needs.

InvestEase offers three main types of accounts that investors can choose from:

  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Non-Registered Investment Account

After that, all you have to do is let their smart software generate a portfolio for you.

Step 2: Their Professionals Invest For You

Once your money is in their platform, their team of investment experts will invest your funds in a portfolio made up of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They use technology to keep your portfolio aligned to your interests such as a mix of equities, fixed income and cash if they deem it good for you, and if necessary, they will even buy and sell ETFs to keep you on the right path.

Step 3: Ongoing Support

The great thing about this platform is that everyone using it will get access to an actual human investment advisor. Basically, as an InvestEase client, you will get consultations with an experienced team of investment professionals who can answer your questions and provide you with the advice you need.

Overview Of RBC InvestEase

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 different categories. The following table summarizes RBC InvestEase’s scores.

Minimum Deposit 8
Service Fees7
MER Fees8
Portfolio Options5
Asset Protection10
Usability3
Withdrawal and Deposit options5
Human Advice 10
Customer Service8
Referral Program0
Total64
We recommend RBC InvestEase if:
 You want to start investing without worrying about researching which stocks or ETFs to buy and sell.
You don’t have experience building diversified portfolios.
You want an account that is easy and quick to set up.

We don’t recommend RBC InvestEase if
You prefer higher risk portfolios 
You want access to other ETFs that aren’t just the ones offered by RBC InvestEase, in which case you can check options such as WealthBar and Justwealth.

#1 RBC InvestEase’s Minimum Deposit

With InvestEase you don’t have a minimum balance, but you need a minimum deposit of $100 to get started. However, this is very low compared with other investment options out there. With balances between $100 and $1,499, you’ll be investing in their “Small Balance portfolio” obtaining similar exposure to the Standard and Responsible portfolios, but not all the perks. When your balance rises above $1,500, you can transition to a full Standard or Responsible Investing portfolio for no additional cost. 

Invest Ease Minimum Deposit Score: 9/10

#2 Service Fees

RBC InvestEase offers you full transparency without any surprises, it charges an annual management fee of 0.50% + applicable sales tax (billed monthly, based on the account’s average Assets Under Management). 

Furthermore, its weighted average management expense ratio between 0.11% -0.30% will apply to the ETFs held in the portfolio. It is also worth noting that this robo advisor charges the same low fee of 0.50% to manage both Standard and Responsible Investing portfolios.

InvestEase service Fees Score: 7/10

#3 MER Fees Charged By RBC InvestEase

The Management Expense Ratio (MER) is the expenses related to managing the exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The MER comes from the following costs:

  • Management fee: The annual fee paid to the fund manager for acting as a trustee and manager. This is the MER’s largest portion. 
  • Operating expenses: It includes fees like complying with national regulations and payable fees to members of the board of governors to the ETFs.
  • Taxes: Funds must pay applicable sale taxes on management and administration fees that are charged to the fund. 

This ETF MER is different from the annual investment management fee that RBC InvestEase charges. InvestEase MER weighted average is as follows:

  • Standard Portfolio ETF MERs: 0.11%-0.22%
  • Responsible Investing Portfolio ETF MERs: 0.18%-0.30%

InvestEase MER Fees Score: 8/10

#4 Deposit and Withdrawal Options

To add funds to your RBC InvestEase account you have a couple of options, which are:

  • Move money from a bank account
  • Move money from a broker

Move money from a bank account

To transfer your funds from a bank account to RBC InvestEase you need to:

  1. Sign in at their website and enter your client card username with your password use the RBC Online Bank, sign in and follow the RBC InvestEase link on your account summary page.
  2. Click on the “Move Money” tab on top of the website to start a new transfer and then select a bank.
  3. Once that is done, your account should be selectable in the drop-down field. If you’re transferring from another financial institution you will be required to send them a bill payment or add your bank account for the future. 

Move your money from a broker

To transfer your funds from a broker to RBC InvestEase you need to log into your broker account and:

  1. Click the Investment Account and under the “Transfer form” choose the right information for your financial institutions and account type.
  2. Then, under the “Transfer to” option, select the account you want the investments to go to. And then go to Transfer instructions and select how you want your account transferred.
  3. You can select either full transfer or partial transfer, depending on if you want to transfer the whole balance in your broker account in cash, selling any positions in the account, or if you only want to transfer the cash portion alone. 

As for withdrawals, while you don’t need to pay any fees to withdraw your funds from the account, the options for withdrawals are limited. You have to call RBC InvestEase and have your portfolio advisor help you through that process. This is a disadvantage considering that most robo advisor offer at least cheques and bank transfers as withdrawal options. And that’s not the worst of it, because you’re required to pay a $135 fee plus applicable taxes to transfer your money from your RBC InvestEase account to an account from another financial institution.

InvestEase Deposit & Withdrawal Options Score: 5/10

#5 RBC InvestEase’s Portfolio Options

As mentioned before, when you invest less than $1,499, you get the “Small Balance portfolio” which is similar to the Standard and Responsible Investing portfolios but was launched to help investors who didn’t have enough capital to start or were afraid of the risks of investing big. Once you have a balance of $1,500 or more you graduate to one of the following portfolios: 

The Standard Portfolio

Great for those who want to achieve some investing goals and minimize fees. This is what it includes: 

  • Globally diversified and built from low cost, passive ETFs.
  • Low fees.
  • Professionally rebalanced and managed by RBC InvestEase.

The mix of assets is determined by your risk tolerance, investment experience and time horizon. Each investment portfolio will include a mix of fixed income and equity ETFs and cash to reach your financial goals and match your tolerance risk. These are the ETFs used in the Standard Portfolio:

  • iShares Core Canadian Short-Term Bond Index ETF
  • iShares Core Canadian Universe Bond Index ETF
  • iShares Global Government Bond Index ETF (CAD-Hedged)
  • iShares Core S&P/TSX Capped Composite Index ETF
  • iShares Core S&P 500 Index ETF
  • iShares Core MSCI EAFE IMI Index ETF
  • iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets IMI Index ETF

Responsible Investing Portfolio: 

This one is appropriate for investors who are looking to reach their future goals and make a positive impact on the world. This portfolio is based on the following:

  • Globally diversified and built with low-cost, passive ETFs with an in-depth environmental, social and governance (ESG) integrated assessment. 
  • Low fees.
  • Professionally rebalanced and managed by RBC InvestEase.

Furthermore, this portfolio excludes companies that are involved with tobacco, controversial weapons, civilian firearms and other companies involved in severely negative industries. These are the ETFs used in the Responsible Investing Portfolios: 

  • Shares ESG Canadian Short-Term Bond Index ETF
  • iShares ESG Canadian Aggregate Bond Index ETF
  • iShares Global Government Bond Index ETF (CAD-Hedged)
  • iShares ESG MSCI Canada Index ETF
  • iShares ESG MSCI USA Index ETF
  • iShares ESG MSCI EAFE Index ETF
  • iShares ESG MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF

This amount of portfolios is average in comparison to other robo advisors, who offer around 9 or even more portfolios, like Justwealth, a robo advisor that offers 63 portfolios. 

InvestEase Portfolio Options Score: 5/10

RBC InvestEase review

#6 Asset Protection 

RBC Direct Investing Inc. provides custodial services for the funds that you invest with RBC InvestEase. It is also responsible for keeping your financial assets safe, maintaining your accounts, record keeping, trade settlement and reporting. RBC Direct Investing Inc. is also regulated by the IIROC (Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada) and a member of the CIPF (Canadian Investor Protection Fund).

With RBC Direct Investing Inc. your account will be protected up to certain limits by the CIPF in the event of insolvency of RBC Direct Investing Inc. However, the CIPF does not protect your assets from losses due to market movements or the activities of RBC InvestEase. 

InvestEase Asset Protection Score: 10/10

#7 Human Advice

With InvestEase you get professional human advice for your account by their team of accredited portfolio advisors. You can get in touch with them by calling: 1-800-769-2531 during regular hours of operation from 8AM to 8PM ET.

InvestEase Human Advice Score: 10/10

#8 Usability Of RBC InvestEase

As of 2020, InvestEase does not offer an app. However, their website is very complete and offers a layout that is easy to use and does not overwhelm the user. Everything is really easy to find to the user and the color scheme is rather uncluttered and elegant.

However, it does not have its own website but rather a section in the RBC website, and they don’t provide enough information on the actual process for signing up, which is a shame, especially in comparison with most robo advisors that have their own websites and detailed information about their portfolios and accounts. 

InvestEase Usability Score: 3/10

#9 The RBC InvestEase Customer Service

You can get in touch with RBC InvestEase through their phone number: 1-800-769-2531 from 8AM to 8PM ET. You can also email them to: questions@rbcinvestease.com. And there is also their mailing address:

RBC InvestEase Inc.

P.O. Box 4288, STN A

Toronto, ON

M5W 0J8

Sadly, they don’t provide live chat which is a small disadvantage in comparison with other advisors, as well as the usual reply time for their emails which is longer than 24 hours. Your best chance at getting a quick reply with InvestEase is through the phone. 

InvestEase Customer Service Score: 8/10

#10 Referral Program

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

InvestEase Referral Program Score: 0/10

The Bottom Line Of RBC InvestEase

RBC InvestEase is a great choice for a robo advisor with portfolio options that may not be a lot, because they are only two but offers a solid choice that is fixed to match each customer’s needs, risk tolerance and investing goals.

However, if you prefer a robo advisor that is more targeted to mature investors with lower risk tolerance, you may check our post on Nest Wealth. Or if you want a robo advisor that offers more benefits beyond the basics, you may check our post on WealthSimple

Here are some of its key features:

Robo AdvisorMinimum investmentService costManagement Expense Ratio (MER)Accounts offered
RBC InvestEaseYou need $100 to start investing.Flat fee of 0.5% per yearRanges from 0.11%-0.30% which means that you can expect your total annual portfolio fee to be around 0.61%-0.80%Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) Non-Registered Investment Account.

On the other hand, if you prefer a simple, easy to use robo advisor to get started and avoid all decision fatigue, go ahead and give RBC InvestEase a chance to surprise you!