WealthBar is part of this year's Top Service Providers


Established: 2014
Employees: 28
CEO: Tea Nicola
Headquarters: Vancouver
Target market: Canadian investors

When robo-advisors first started to gain traction in the marketplace, many predicted a doomsday scenario for the advisory business. Since then, several of the main robo-advisors have expanded their scope, and advisors are now their potential customers rather than competitors. Wealthbar, the brainchild of Tea Nicola, is an example of the new breed of digital advisory firm that has much grander ambitions than simply disrupting the status quo.

“We offer the WealthBar robo-advisor platform as a white-label service for independent financial advisors and advisors from related industries like insurance,” Nicola says. “This allows those third-party advisory firms to provide the added online convenience of online investing, with access to unlimited financial advice and portfolios with lower fees, lower risk and an income stream in retirement.”

The rise of the robo-advisor is inextricably linked to the push for lower fees across wealth management. Many consumers now expect not only to receive great service for less money, but also for that service to be much faster and more convenient. As Nicola explains, that’s where a company like WealthBar comes in.

“Advisors are under increasing pressure to be able to offer convenient online service,” she says. “They need to be able to offer that without reducing the perceived value of their own service. That’s why we see our role as a partner to accentuate their value.”

Those words should offer solace to any advisor worried that the introduction of digital advice will ultimately negate the need for human advisors. It’s a common misconception about this burgeoning sub-section of wealth management, Nicola explains.

“Advisors are under increasing pressure to be able to offer convenient online service. They need to be able to offer that without reducing the perceived value of their own service” - Tea Nicola, WealthBar

“There is some confusion in the marketplace as to the definition of a roboadvisor,” she says. “This confusion is understandable, but it is a challenge to overcome. The robo-advisor sector is far bigger in the US, and it is there that it is most associated with automation, AI and portfolios that may have minimal management by actual humans. But our model is different.

“WealthBar was a pioneer in the Canadian robo-advisor space,” she continues. “In our case, the ‘robo’ in robo-advisor simply refers to our use of technology and software. We use it to improve the online experience and offer access to high-quality portfolios while charging lower fees.” 

In addition, the firm uses CFAs and portfolio managers who provide unlimited, no-commission financial advice – a far cry from the perception of robo-advisors as a fully automated, computer-controlled service.