TORONTO -- The Bank of Montreal's head of digital investing sees two bright spots for the sector: young people and retirees.
BMO InvestorLine president Silvio Stroescu says its self-directed investing platforms are seeing a growing number of clients at opposite ends of the spectrum, those under the age of 30 and those in their golden years.
He says Canada's fourth-largest bank is seeing more interest from boomers nearing retirement who want to use their newfound free time to build and manage their own portfolios.
"We see them going into retirement right now and saying, 'I have more time and I understand how to build my portfolio, and I'm more willing to do it on my own'," Stroescu said.
BMO InvestorLine says it has seen a record number of transfers larger than $1 million to its adviceDirect platform between January and September of this year, compared with the past six years since it launched.
Meanwhile, Stroescu says its robo-adviser offering SmartFolio has seen the percentage of users under the age of 30 rise from 15 per cent to nearly 25 per cent since it dropped its minimum investment level to $1,000 from $5,000 in late 2017.
"We're seeing more adoption from the millennials," he said.
Stroescu's comments come as BMO InvestorLine marks its 30th anniversary and interest in do-it-yourself online investing and lower-fee investment options continues to rise.
BMO InvestorLine has more than 400,000 clients on its InvestorLine Self-Directed platform, Stroescu says. It also has roughly 5,000 users on SmartFolio and 4,000 on adviceDirect, the latter of which offers guidance for clients, he added.
Competition in this space for retail investors is heating up as well. Toronto-Dominion Bank has partnered with U.S. firm Hydrogen to launch its own "robo-guidance" product and completed a $100-million revamp of its WebBroker self-directed investing platform. Meanwhile, robo-adviser Wealthsimple has been ramping up its offerings and recently announced it was launching a zero-commission stock-trading service.