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Nov 29, 2018

RBC rolls out InvestEase robo-advisor platform across country

Can RBC sustain growth after hitting record profit in 2018?

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TORONTO -- Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) has rolled out its robo-advisor platform across the country as demand grows for lower-cost, digital investing options.

After launching RBC InvestEase late last year on a trial basis, the Toronto-based lender has now officially opened up the service to new and existing customers across Canada.

The platform was developed in response to the "growing middle" segment of clients who want investment advice but do it all online, said Rebecca Peacock, senior director of strategy for RBC InvestEase.

"With all of these digital channels invading our lives, more and more people want to do their investing online," she said. "Up until a few years ago, the only option to do everything online is to do it yourself. And not everyone is comfortable doing that."

The national rollout comes as competition in the robo-advisor space between both incumbent banks and fintechs heats up.

Toronto-Dominion Bank recently partnered with U.S. firm Hydrogen to launch its own "robo-guidance" product, and the Bank of Montreal was the first of its peers to launch its digital investing platform, dubbed SmartFolio, in 2016.

Meanwhile, robo-advisor Wealthsimple now has roughly 100,000 clients in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., and manages more than $2.5 billion in assets.

Prior to the national launch, RBC's InvestEase was limited on a pilot basis to residents in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Customers who use the digitally automated investment advisor will pay 0.5 per cent per year in management fees on investment balances, on top of any management expense ratios (MER) embedded in particular funds.

The required minimum balance is $1,000, and RBC says it is waiving its management fee until next October for new clients who sign on within a certain timeframe.