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CI Direct Investing Review 2023 (formerly WealthBar)

Formerly known as WealthBar, CI Direct Investing is one of the top online financial planning and investment platforms in Canada.

Online wealth management firms (aka robo-advisors) make it easier for everyday investors to access professional portfolio management services.

This service is generally available at a lower fee than traditional mutual funds, and, you do not have to worry about picking stocks, ETFs, or rebalancing compared to using a discount broker.

In addition to CI Direct Investing, other robo-advisors operating in Canada include Wealthsimple, Questwealth, and Justwealth.

With its rebranding from WealthBar to CI Direct Investing, the company has taken its service offerings up a notch by pairing up with one of the largest investment firms in the country.

This CI Direct Investing review covers its accounts and portfolio options, performance fees, promotional offer, and whether the company is safe.

Who is CI Direct Investing?

CI Direct Investing was founded in 2012 by Tea Nicola and Chris Nicola. It is registered as a Portfolio Manager in all the provinces and territories in Canada. In May 2020, CI Financial Corp. acquired 100% of the company and rebranded it to CI Direct Investing.

CI Financial Corp. (CI) is an independent global asset manager with more than $338.1 billion in assets under management as of September 2022.

Other businesses operating under the CI brand include Virtual Brokers (BBS Securities Inc.), Assante Wealth Management, and CI Investments.

CI Financial Corp. is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “CIX”.

CI Direct Investing Accounts and Portfolios

CI Direct Investing offers a variety of accounts and portfolios to meet the varying needs of investors.

The company uses low-cost diversified Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) to create customized portfolios based on your risk tolerance and investment objectives.

Portfolios available include:

  • Aggressive ETF Portfolios
  • Growth ETF Portfolios
  • Balanced ETF Portfolios
  • Conservative ETF Portfolios
  • Safety ETF Portfolios

You can hold any of their portfolios in an RRSP, TFSA, RESP, RRIF, LIF, or LIRA account.

CI Direct Investing also offers business and corporate investment accounts and non-registered taxable personal accounts.

The individual ETFs making up the portfolios are from well-known fund companies like Vanguard, Horizons, iShares, and BMO and include:

Fund nameTicker
Horizons S&P 500 ETFHXS
iShares Core MSCI EAFE IMIXEF
BMO High Yield US Corp Bd Hdgd to CAD ETFZHY
Horizon S&P/TSX60 ETFHXT
Horizons Equal Weight Canada REIT ETFHCRE
BMD Mid Corporate Bond Index ETFZCM
BMO Mid-Term US IG Corporate Bond Hedged to CADZMU
Vanguard Canadian Short-Term Bond ETFVSB

How to Open a CI Direct Investing Account

You can easily open a CI Direct Investing account online by following these steps:

Step 1: Create an account.

Step 2: Choose the type of account you want to invest in, e.g. RRSP, TFSA, or savings account.

Step 3: Indicate your investment time frame and risk tolerance.

CI Direct Investing recommends a portfolio based on your answers. For example, it may recommend an Aggressive Portfolio if you are comfortable with taking a higher risk in exchange for trying to maximize your return over a longer period.

Step 4: Accept the recommended portfolios or choose another. If you have questions at this point, there’s an option to chat with a portfolio manager.

Step 5: Enter your personal details, including your Social Insurance Number, address, and employment.

Step 6: Fund your account with at least $1,000 and start investing after signing off on the paperwork.

CI Direct Investing WealthBar Promo Offer

CI Direct Investing Benefits and Features

Robo-advisors like CI Direct Investing take the guesswork out of investing and eliminate the work required when you choose a do-it-yourself approach.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect:

1. Diversified Portfolios: Your portfolio contains thousands of stocks and bonds from all over the world, so it is less volatile and attempts to maximize your return for your level of risk exposure.

2. Low-Cost Investing: Compared to a mutual fund that costs up to 2% per year in fees, CI Direct Investing Portfolios charge a maximum management fee of 0.60%. When you add in the built-in ETF Portfolio Management Expense Ratio (MER), the maximum amount you are paying is around 0.85% per year (assuming a maximum ETF MER of 0.25%). This is less than half the fee of comparable mutual funds.

3. Professional Management Team: This team at CI Direct Investing comprises Certified Financial Planners, Chartered Financial Analysts, and financial experts with decades of experience in the investment industry.

4. Free Financial Advice: You can ask questions at any time and speak to a registered financial advisor for free by phone and email. If your financial circumstances change, a portfolio manager is available to re-assess your portfolio type. Clients also access tax optimization, estate planning, insurance needs analysis, and more.

5. Automatic Rebalancing: Your portfolio is automatically rebalanced as needed to keep it in line with your investment objectives.

6. Security: CI Direct Investing is a registered portfolio manager. Your investments through the company are protected by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) up to $1 million.

7. Access to Socially-Responsible Investing (SRI): Clients can access an SRI portfolio using the First Trust Clean Edge Green Energy ETF [QCLN].

Downsides of CI Directing Investing

To start investing on the platform, you must deposit at least $1,000 in your account.

CI Direct Investing fees are higher than the average for robo-advisors, especially when you have a moderate balance (<$150,000).

When your account assets exceed $500,000, the fees become much more competitive.

CI Direct Investing Fees

Investors may be able to improve their overall return over time by minimizing the fees they pay for portfolio management.

CI Direct Investing has the following fee structure:

  • First $150,000: 0.6% annually
  • Next $350,000: 0.40% annually
  • Above $500,000: 0.35% annually

In addition to the management fees, your account pays ETF MERs to the fund companies. The MER for ETF Portfolios is between 0.18% and 0.25%

You can take a look at a comparison of robo-advisor fees.

CI Direct Investing Portfolio Performance

The hypothetical performance track record for CI Direct Investing Portfolios used to be accessible on the website.

However, it has been removed and will be replaced with data showing actual account performance later this year.

CI Direct Investing High Interest Saving Account

Looking for a savings account that actually pays interest on your money? CI Direct Investing offers a high-interest savings account with the following features:

  • 3.5% interest rate
  • No monthly fees
  • Free transactions
  • No minimum deposit
  • Interest is calculated daily and paid monthly

The funds in your CI Direct Investing Savings Account count towards your total asset and can be used to cover your investment fees.

The savings account is also eligible for protection by CIPF and is only available in Canadian dollars.

Learn about the top savings account rates in Canada.

Socially-Responsible Investing Options

CI Direct Investing offers a socially responsible portfolio or Cleantech you can add to your investments. Cleantech focuses on investing in companies that promote the use of renewable energy resources, including hydro, solar, wind, etc.

When you opt for Cleantech in your portfolio, CI Direct Investing invests 5% of your money into the First Trust Clean Edge Green Energy ETF [QCLN].

Investing in Cleantech is one way to diversify your investment holdings while also investing according to your values.

The ETF MER for ETF portfolios with Cleantech add-on is between 0.21% and 0.22%. For private portfolios, it is between 0.80% and 1.15%.

CI Direct Investing Private Investment Portfolios

CI Direct Investing offers its clients access to Private Portfolios that offer private asset classes and reduced volatility.

These portfolios are managed by seasoned money managers and provide access to unconventional assets you typically cannot access unless you have $1 million or more to invest.

Assets that are accessible via Private Investment Portfolios include real estate, private equity, mortgages, alternative strategies, and preferred shares.

You can open Aggressive, Balanced, Safety Private, and Flex Safety Private Portfolios.

The Management Expense Ratio for these portfolios is higher and ranges from 0.85% to 1.55%.

Is CI Direct Investing Safe and Legit?

One of the largest investment firms in Canada owns CI Direct Investing (formerly WealthBar). Its parent company, CI Financial Corp., has served Canadians since 1965.

CI Direct Investing is a registered portfolio manager. Since the cash and securities in your account are held by custodians who are members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), your funds are protected up to $1 million.

In addition, the company uses industry-standard security measures to protect your account, including encryption and advanced login features.

CI Direct Investing Promotion

**Expired offer** Readers of Savvy New Canadians can get up to $10,000 managed free* for a year when they sign up and fund their accounts.

To take the advantage of this offer, open an account here and fund your account with at least $1,000.

The management fee is waived on up to $10,000 invested for 1 year.

You can also move your investment from other financial institutions to CI Direct Investing. The Transfer fees charged by your current institution are waived up to $150 if the assets you are transferring exceed $25,000.

CI Direct Investing VS Wealthsimple Vs Others

How does CI Direct Investing compare to other robo-advisors on fees, account openings, promotions, safety, and financial planning?

 CI Direct InvestingWealthsimpleQuestwealth Portfolios
Account typesRRSP, TFSA, RESP, RRIF, LIF, LIRA, non-reg., business accounts, cashRRSP, TFSA, RESP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF, corporate, personal non-reg., cashTFSA, RRSP, LIRA, RESP, RRIF, LIF
Portfolios offered5 types; Cleantech portfolios; Private Investment Portfolios; Halal, SRI (Impact)3 types; Halal portfolios, SRI portfolio5 types; SRI portfolios
Minimum investment$1,000$1$1,000
Management feesFirst $150K: 0.60%; next $350K: 0.40%; over $500K: 0.35%First $100K: 0.50%; over $100K: 0.40%First $100K: 0.25%; over $100K: 0.20%; FX fees may apply
Transfer fees waivedUp to $150 on transfers over $25KWaived on transfers over $5KWaived on transfers over $25K
Investing strategyActive-Passive (hybrid)PassiveActive-Passive (hybrid)
Available platformsWeb interface and mobile appWeb interface and mobile appWeb interface and mobile app
Customer support optionsPhone, email, and chatPhone, email, and chatPhone, email, and chat
Automatic rebalancingYesYesYes
Free financial planningYesYesYes
Promotional offerGet a cash bonus when you deposit at least $500Invest up to $10,000 free for 1 year
SRIImpact PortfoliosWealthsimple SRI portfolio (5 ETFs)Questwealth SRI (several ETF options)
Other offeringsHigh Interest Savings AccountWealthsimple Cash (savings), Wealthsimple Trade (brokerage), SimpleTax, and Wealthsimple CryptoQuestrade (brokerage)
Learn moreLearn moreLearn moreLearn more
CI Direct Investing Review
4.7

Summary

CI Direct Investing (formerly WealthBar) is one of the best robo-advisors in Canada. Read this CI Direct Investing review to learn about their portfolios, fees, performance, promotional offer and more.

Pros

  • Access to diversified portfolios and SRIs
  • Low-cost investing
  • Free financial advice
  • Automatic rebalancing

Cons

  • A minimum investment of $1,000 is required
  • Accounts under $150K pay 0.6% which is 0.1% more than some competitors

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Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, CBC News, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, National Post, and many other personal finance publications. You can learn more about him on the About Page.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

1 thought on “CI Direct Investing Review 2023 (formerly WealthBar)”

  1. Gravatar for Anthony Kirby

    Looks like CI Direct Investing has shut down, It is unreachable.
    Anybody knows what is going on with CI Direct Investing?

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