In Episode 13 of the Canadian Couch Potato podcast, we turn our attention to one of the most significant trends in ETF investing: the rise of robo-advisors. As Rob Carrick recently wrote in the Globe and Mail, “It’s time to stop treating robo-advisers as a novelty and start considering them as a smart option for people seeking help in building an investment portfolio.”
I haven’t written much about robo-advisors since they arrived in Canada back in 2014, because it’s been hard to get much deep insight into these firms. On one hand, the media love painting them as a massive disrupter in the financial services industry, but it’s not clear how popular they’ve been with Canadian investors. Most firms are silent about the number of clients they have attracted and the amount of assets they manage.
To inject a little objectivity, I spoke to someone with expertise but no vested interest in the robo-advisor space. Pauline Shum-Nolan is a professor of Finance at the Schulich School of Business whose research has focused on ETFs. She is also president and co-founder of PW Portfolio Analytics,