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Wealthsimple targets Canada’s richest with Grayhawk partnership

Wealthsimple targets Canada’s richest with Grayhawk partnership

Wealthsimple Inc., the robo advisor favoured by millennials, is expanding in the opposite end of the Canadian wealth spectrum — services for high-net worth families.

The investment firm’s Wealthsimple to Advisors unit will provide technology, dealer and advisory services to Grayhawk Investment Strategies Inc., a Calgary-based firm that manages about $800 million for 30 of Canada’s richest families. Wealthsimple will then offer Grayhawk strategies to advisors with wealthy clients on its platform.

“We still are often thought of as a young millennial shop, and even in our advisor business a lot of people think of us as a ‘Mom and Pop’ advisor,” Wealthsimple Chief Executive Officer Mike Katchen said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office. “But this is a very ultra high-net-worth professional shop that’s been growing very fast — it’s only four years old — that understand the value of a platform like ours.”

The move is all part of Katchen’s plan to transform the Toronto-based firm into a broad-based financial services company. It has been rolling out new offerings, including commission-free trading, and Katchen’s ambitions could include checking accounts, credit lines, mortgages and life insurance.

Desmarais Stake

“We think that there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build that kind of platform, based here in Canada, but expanding it around the world,” Katchen, 31, said. “It’s pretty obvious where we’re going to go: we want to be the mainstay of our clients’ financial lives.”

Wealthsimple, 67-per-cent-owned by the Desmarais family’s Power Financial Corp., has more than $5 billion in assets under management and 175,000 customers in Canada, the U.S. and U.K. He sees that reaching $1 trillion 15 years.

“We’re just getting started,” he said. “Our plans are to get to millions of clients in the next five years.”

The company has about 400 advisors and a number of firms already using this wealth-management platform. Grayhawk becomes the first major family office to adopt it.