January 10, 2017 / 8:50 PM / 2 years ago

Canadian fintech startup Wealthsimple sees major 2017 growth

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian online investment startup Wealthsimple expects to have over a billion dollars in assets under management this year as it plans for significant growth in 2017, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Launched just two years ago and backed by Power Financial Corp (PWF.TO), the financial technology startup currently has about 15,000 clients in Canada investing some C$750 million ($567 million) in exchange traded funds (ETFs).

“We’re planning on some really major growth this year. We’re certainly looking to cross the billion (dollar) threshold in very short order and get to billions very quickly thereafter,” said Mike Katchen, the 29-year-old founder and CEO of the Toronto-based firm.

As a sign of that growth, Wealthsimple launched a new premium service on Tuesday for clients with over C$100,000 in investments. It offers a lower management fee of 0.4 percent, financial planning, tax guidance and, as a perk, a Priority Pass membership, which gives global access to airline lounges.

Wealthsimple, which touts itself as an affordable, millennial-focused, automated investing service, says clients eligible for the new product are on average, 43 years old, about 10 years older than the average client.

The company, which has seen its staff size more than triple to about 75 in the last year, has international ambitions, as well as plans this year on how to fund its growth, Katchen said, declining to provide further details. He said an initial public offering was “still a ways out.”

Canadian regulatory changes, such as those requiring fee disclosures, are prompting people to consider alternative investment options, Katchen said, and would likely also help drive growth in the Canadian fintech sector this year.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Andrew Hay

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