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By Christian Charest | 01-05-2017

Invisor adds financial planning elements to robo-advisor

Investors need to focus on their goals rather than worrying about how much money they have, says Pramod Udiaver.

Christian Charest: For Morningstar, I'm Christian Charest. Robo-advisors are gaining a lot of attention from investors looking to lower their costs. And with new players entering the market on a regular basis, a lot of the existing robo-advisors are working hard to find ways to stand out from the crowd. One such company is Invisor, which just launched a new financial planning tool called Invisor GPS. I have with me today Mr. Pramod Udiaver, co-founder and CEO at Invisor.

Mr. Udiaver, thank you very much for being here today.

Pramod Udiaver: Thanks, Christian, for having me.

Charest: Typically, what robo-advisors offer is an instant portfolio that's suitable for an individual investor and rebalancing of its components. But your new service goes further than that into financial planning territory. Can you tell us exactly what Invisor GPS is?

Udiaver: Invisor GPS is a very easy, simple and intuitive goal management tool that we are offering to all of our clients. We did this because when we started Invisor, our vision was to get investors to think about their goals, as opposed to just worrying about how much money they have today, and how to get to their financial goals. These tools really help address questions such as how much I need when I retire, how to get to my retirement, how much I need to save. And once they set a plan for themselves, it helps people make sure they are on track with those goals. If there are any adjustments to be made, we make recommendations and people can very easily make sure that they are on track to meeting their goals.

Charest: There's an interesting aspect as well: There's also an insurance component in the new tool.

Udiaver: Absolutely. We think risk management, or risk protection, is an integral part of anybody's wealth management situation. We wanted to make sure that the online advice that we provide is not just about investing, that it's about risk protection in everybody's lives. That includes life, disability and critical illness; these are all common risk factors that everybody is exposed to.

Charest: You say everybody. Do you have an idea of who your target market is? What type of investor is this aimed at?

Udiaver: I think this would appeal to anybody that has longer-term goals. That could be a retirement, it could be education funding, it could be buying a cottage down the road, it could be travelling around the world. It could be anything. I think as people's lives evolve, these goals evolve. But there are certain common goals that most Canadians have, and we're trying to make sure that people really start putting a plan together that will make sure that they can get to those goals.

Charest: Your competitors in the robo-advisor market seem to focus a lot on the saving aspect and the lower fees, of course. But what's the value of a goal-planning service like this? Why is it important for investors to have to set goals for themselves?

Udiaver: I think setting goals is one of the most important things that every investor should do. A traditional approach has been all about how much money you have and focusing on what investments you should buy, trying to time the market and so on. We're trying to take a different approach, which we think is the right approach for any investor's long-term objectives, and that is to get investors to focus on their goals. There's only so much you can do in terms of controlling how you approach your goals. You can't control markets, but oftentimes people get caught up with trying to time the markets and end up paying a high cost and not achieving their goals. We want our clients to make sure they have a plan and are doing the right thing to get to those goals in a very cost-efficient way. That's been our vision and Invisor GPS, we believe, addresses that vision.

Charest: Are there any extra costs to your clients for using this service?

Udiaver: Not at all. We're not charging anything extra. The fee we charge our advisory services is the same. Whether people choose to use the Invisor GPS or not, we charge the same fee. We encourage all of our customers to use Invisor GPS because it's very easy to use. It doesn't take more than 15 to 20 minutes to think through their financial situation, think about their goals and set a plan. It doesn't cost anything additional and we encourage all of our clients to use Invisor GPS.

Charest: Mr. Udiaver, thank you very much for being with us today.

Udiaver: Thank you for having me today.

Charest: For Morningstar, I'm Christian Charest. Thank you for watching.

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