You may remember in the spring of 2019, I did a blog post and video on TD Direct Investing’s new WebBroker feature called GoalAssist. Well, a lot has changed since then!
Now, if you log into WebBroker, you’ll see that the same feature has a new name — Goals. Why do you ask? Because TD Direct Investing just launched a new mobile app-based service, and you guessed it, they’re calling it TD GoalAssist™.
So, what is this new app all about? How does it compare to WebBroker, the main trading platform offered through TD Direct Investing? And how does it compare to other trading apps in Canada?
Well, I’m about to tell you. When Goals first launched with WebBroker in April 2019, it was to help DIY investors set up and track their investment goals with their different portfolios. Although I’m still a big fan of the feature, I did have some ideas to make it even better than I expressed to the TD team early on.
Little did I know, they were already several steps ahead of me.
What Is TD GoalAssist™?
On October 27, 2020, TD Direct Investing launched a new mobile app-based service called TD GoalAssist as a way to help Canadians set financial goals (as they can through the Goals feature in WebBroker), invest for their futures, and most significantly, save on fees.
One of the big perks of TD GoalAssist is that there are no account balance minimums, no maintenance or inactivity fees, and you can make commission-free trades on all TD ETFs. In other words, if you used the app and only traded TD ETFs, you would pay zero fees (aside from the MERs embedded in the ETFs themselves).
Can I Trade Stocks on the App?
But honestly, it’s very simple. It’s a trading app that allows you to buy any stock listed on all major North American stock exchanges or TD ETFs.
I should point out that although there are no commission fees for TD ETF trades, that doesn’t apply to stock trades. If you want to trade stocks, there is still the same $9.99 commission fee just like with WebBroker.
What ETFs Are Available to Trade on the App?
I should also make clear that although you can trade any stock from the major exchanges, the only ETFs available to trade on the app are TD ETFs. If you want access to more, a TD Direct Investing WebBroker account might be a better option. But the large suite of TD ETFs still enables a wide range of investment strategies, especially if you mix them with your favourite stocks. And it’s hard to argue with commission-free trades. For a look at the different ETFs they offer, check out their TD ETF page.
How Is TD GoalAssist Different Than TD Direct Investing’s Goals?
That being said, the biggest difference between TD Direct Investing’s WebBroker platform and the new TD GoalAssist app is that TD GoalAssist includes the same Goals feature, but also provides a guided experience helping you to create a portfolio to match your investment goal.
You see, when you’re in the TD GoalAssist app, you determine your investment goal and risk tolerance. You then have the option of either creating your own portfolio of TD ETFs or stocks or selecting a TD ETF portfolio that most aligns with your investment goal and risk tolerance using a TD One-Click ETF Portfolio.
What Is a TD One-Click ETF Portfolio?
In case you’re not familiar with TD One-Click ETF Portfolios, these types of ETFs are often called asset allocation ETFs or all-in-one ETFs and most of the major ETF providers offer them too (they’re more common than you think!).
Think of them as an ETF comprised of ETFs that automatically rebalances itself to a particular asset allocation to stay aligned to a particular risk rating.
Let’s look at an example, shall we?
Take TD One-Click Aggressive ETF Portfolio (TOCA) as our example.
It is an ETF, but inside it are other ETFs, which you can see in the Top Ten Holdings section.
Figure 1: This image reflects the holdings when it was taken on Oct. 23, 2020 – note that holdings are subject to change
By putting all of those ETFs together, it is designed to create a diversified portfolio of equities and fixed income with exposure to different markets.
And the beauty of it is that if you’re happy with the asset allocation and its risk rating, you don’t have to rebalance it. A team of professionals at TD Asset Management Inc., Canada’s largest money manager in pension assets, does that for you.
Wait, Is This a Robo-Advisor?
TD GoalAssist is an electronic self-directed investment service. So even though there’s robo here, there’s no advisor. TD GoalAssist doesn’t offer investment advice, product recommendations, or monitor the suitability of your investments. Instead, it gives you simplified resources to help you make decisions for yourself about your investments.
Doing it yourself means that you call all the shots and can avoid the management fee (typically 0.50%) that robo advisors charge in addition to the MERs of the ETFs in your portfolio (typically between 0.10-0.30%). If you were to invest with TD GoalAssist, you would only be paying the $9.99 commission fee on stock trades and the MERs of TD ETFs. For example, if holding only a TD One-Click ETF Portfolio, you would only pay the ETF’s MER which is 0.25% since TD ETF trades are free.
This is all to say that if you want the convenience of a robo-advisor but want to save on fees (because who doesn’t love more money in their pocket?), TD GoalAssist may be a good solution for you.
What Account Types Are Available?
When setting up your TD GoalAssist account, you can open cash, RRSP and TFSA accounts in Canadian dollars.
What Kind of Support Is Provided?
Since this service is still part of TD Direct Investing, which is a self-directed online brokerage, they cannot provide investment advice. This is the same for any other discount brokerage. Similar to WebBroker, TD GoalAssist provides support to its users and Investment Representatives are available to answer questions.
Moreover, there is a dedicated “Learn” section within the app that features a library of short, highly visual educational videos to help you build your foundation investing knowledge and to guide you through the app so you can better understand how it all works.
To me, TD GoalAssist is a great solution for anyone who wants to dive into passive investing but is looking for something in between a robo-advisor and a regular discount brokerage platform.
Robo-advisors are great, but they do charge a management fee on top of your portfolio’s MER, which can add up over time. Building and managing your own portfolio is a great way to have flexibility with your investments and save on fees, but it’s also a lot of responsibility and does include some time commitment to be successful at it.
The best of both worlds may just be in the form of TD GoalAssist.
If you want to trade stocks, consider whether you’ll get more value from this app than having a TD Direct Investing WebBroker account. WebBroker charges the same amount for stock trades and has a wider selection of investments and services available.
But TD Direct Investing WebBroker accounts can have a maintenance fee which usually bites accounts with less than $15,000 in them. So if you only have a little to invest at the moment, you might find that the streamlined investment selection offered through TD GoalAssist is still a fair trade-off to avoiding a maintenance fee.
To explore more about TD GoalAssist and find out how you can start investing towards your goals, click here.