How To Transfer Your RRSP To Wealthsimple

A client asked me to send step-by-step instructions on how to transfer your RRSP to Wealthsimple. He’s moving his $145,000 portfolio from Primerica over to Wealthsimple’s robo-advisor platform to save on fees.

My client’s existing “Asset Builder Fund” charges a management expense ratio (MER) of 2.30 percent – costing him $3,335 in fees each year. A similar portfolio at Wealthsimple is expected to cost just $957. That is comprised of a 0.40 percent management fee for a Wealthsimple Black account (a price break for funded accounts of $100,000 or more), plus an estimated 0.26 percent MER from the ETFs used to construct the portfolio.

Is my client thrilled with the idea of slashing his fees by nearly $2,400 per year? You bet!

It’s important to know that you don’t need to have a tough conversation with your current financial advisor before you transfer your funds to Wealthsimple (or any financial institution, for that matter). You simply ask your new financial institution to initiate the transfer on your behalf.

I’ve personally initiated this transfer several times with different institutions (big banks and online banks). In my experience, no bank handles this better than Wealthsimple. It was seamless.

Let’s walk you through the step-by-step process of how to transfer your RRSP to Wealthsimple:

How to Transfer Your RRSP to Wealthsimple:

First you need to open a Wealthsimple account. Use this referral link and you’ll get your first $10,000 managed free.

Click on “Get Started” and then enter an email address and a password to create an account.

WealthSimple Get Started

Getting started with Wealthsimple

Click “Get Started” again and you’ll be prompted to enter basic personal information such as your name, phone number, employment information, and mailing address. This will take approximately three minutes and is designed to verify your identity and secure your account.

WS Step 1

Your Personalized Portfolio

Next you’ll answer questions about your investing experience, goals, and time horizon. You’ll also enter your current salary and monthly savings rate (estimates are fine). Finally, you’ll list your existing assets such as your RRSP balance and estimated home value, plus any liabilities such as a mortgage or outstanding credit cards.

The goal with this section is for Wealthsimple to learn about you and recommend a personalized portfolio. This section takes five minutes to complete.

WS Step 2

Answer the questions and you’ll get a personalized portfolio like the one recommended below. It’s an “Unhedged Growth” portfolio, which is a mix of 80 percent equities and 20 percent bonds. Portfolios range from conservative to balanced, and aggressive.

If you’re happy with the portfolio it suggests for you then go ahead and click “Start with this plan”. (You can always change it later).

WealthSimple Personalized Plan

Funding Your Wealthsimple Account

In step number three you have the option to transfer an existing account or to open a brand new account. Since we’re transferring an existing RRSP account from Primerica we’ll select the option to transfer an existing account.

WS Step 3

Transferring Funds To Wealthsimple

Here’s where Wealthsimple really shines and makes it easy for new customers to transfer over their existing accounts to their platform. With other banks, you need to fill out a complicated transfer authorization form (like this one from TD. Seriously, you can’t even save the completed form onto your computer – you need to print it off and bring it to a branch).

With Wealthsimple, my wife followed these steps to transfer a small RRSP from Tangerine to Wealthsimple and the online process could not have been more straightforward.

If your existing RRSP is held with one of the 11 institutions in the image below then you can make a simple process even more seamless without the hassle of digging out a statement.

WS Where's Your RRSP Held?

Since Primerica is not one of those institutions we’ll have to provide the information manually (which sounds more difficult than it will actually be).

WS Manual Entry

Find a recent investment statement, enter the name of the institution from which you’re transferring the RRSP, and then enter your account number.

Next they’ll want to know how you want your account transferred. This can be done one of two ways. You can transfer your holdings “in-kind” which means your existing bank moves your investments “as-is” to the new institution without selling anything. This might occur if you held common stocks or shares in widely sold ETFs. The trouble is, most investment firms have proprietary funds that other institutions don’t sell (think: Tangerine Investment Funds).

The other, more common method is to transfer your account “in cash”. This means the existing bank sells your holdings and then moves the funds in cash to the new institution receiving the transfer. In some cases, due to the sale of mutual funds, you may be charged a deferred sales charge.

In many cases you will be charged a “transfer out” fee (ask if the receiving institution will cover these fees). Wealthsimple will reimburse transfer fees if you transfer more than $5,000 to your Wealthsimple account.

Finally, keep in mind that there are no tax implications for transferring non-taxable accounts such as your RRSP, TFSA, or RESP.

Transfer in Cash

If you have an investment statement handy then simply upload a PDF copy (optional). Review and submit your transfer request and Wealthsimple will take it from there.

Upload Statement

Wealthsimple will contact your financial institution to initiate the transfer and that’s all that’s required from you. You will see the estimated completion date in your Wealthsimple dashboard once they’ve sent off the transfer request.

You may notice that your funds have left your existing investment account but have yet to show up in Wealthsimple – this is completely normal and a good sign that your transfer is in its final stages. Most institutions send a cheque through the mail, and once received they will deposit the funds in your account and notify you immediately.

Final thoughts

I write a lot about why you should ditch your high priced mutual funds. I’ve done the math on your investment fees and showed you the ugly results. And I’ve beaten you over the head with reasons why indexing with low cost ETFs can lead to better investment outcomes.

What I haven’t done is written much about the actual mechanics of how to transfer your RRSP or TFSA to another institution to save on fees.

Many of you have got the message and have been waiting for clear direction on how to take action. I hope you found this step-by-step guide useful. Wealthsimple happened to be the example of the day, but you can do this with any of the robo-advisors in Canada. You can also open a discount brokerage account online or with a big bank and build your own DIY portfolio.

Do you have a question about moving your account from one institution to another to save on investment fees? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.

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26 Comments

  1. Mary -Newfoundland on March 29, 2019 at 5:26 am

    This information is SO helpful, Rob. Thanks very much for the easy-to-follow instructions. The value of our RRSP’s took a slight nose dive last year, but once they recover, we will be leaving Sunlife. Thanks again!

    • Kent on March 29, 2019 at 9:10 am

      Mary
      Could not your RRSP investment recover equally well in Wealthsimple as in Sunlife?
      In other words, why not transfer the RRSP now?
      Kent

    • Robb Engen on March 29, 2019 at 9:22 am

      Hi Mary, it’s my pleasure. I get a lot of questions about this so now I can point people to one source.

      Regarding your comment about waiting for your investments to recover – you might want to try re-framing your thinking here:

      Let’s say your RRSP was worth $200,000 and last year the value went down to $180,000. In your mind you’re thinking, let’s wait until it gets back to even before I do something with it.

      Instead, think about it like you have $180,000 in cash, and what investment is going to give you the best chance to grow that to $200,000 (and beyond)?

      It stands to reason that the lower fee option would get you there quicker, because it won’t have the extra drag of high fees pulling down your returns.

      Don’t think of it as locking in a loss now – you’re simply moving your investments over to a platform that should give you a better chance of higher returns.

      • Mary on March 30, 2019 at 11:31 am

        Good point! You are right; I believe that I need to adjust my thinking. 🙂
        Thanks,
        Mary

  2. Tom on March 29, 2019 at 5:38 am

    I’m curious about moving my (mutual funds) RIF to WealthSimple while maintaining my (recommended) tax withholding & income flow, thus lowering my fund fees and also eliminating my agent’s administrative fee.

  3. Gert on March 29, 2019 at 6:03 am

    Hi, How does the returns or gains / losses fair in comparison to dealing with the higher fee institutions vs. Wealth Simple?
    Right now I pay high fees but think that my returns are high as well, maybe I’m wrong but I have nothing to bench mark against.
    Is Wealth Simple recommended for someone who no longer really works and has an existing portfolio of RRSP & TFSA under $500K?

  4. Larry on March 29, 2019 at 6:31 am

    I need to withdraw $10,000 each year from my existing RRSP in order to maintain our current family income. Current portfolio is being managed and fees are about $2,000 per year. My dividends more than cover my withdrawal and fees, so the capital is not being touched. What is the mechanism to withdraw RRSP funds. Can it be rolled into a RRIF?

    • Glenn Hyde on March 29, 2019 at 6:52 am

      Open a RRIF, transfer the required funds from your RRSP and then withdraw from the RRIF. You can start a RRIF any time if less than age 71 and the withdrawal can be split with your spouse for tax purposes

    • PETER PALEY on March 29, 2019 at 7:23 am

      What about DSC fees, I know Primerica operates on a DSC basis did you have a high DSC charge?

  5. Glenn Hyde on March 29, 2019 at 6:56 am

    Hi Rob!
    I know this is a bit off topic but it might be wise to offer a cautionary to US persons that opening an account with Canadian robo investors (and opening Canadian TFSA’s) could open the door to onerous reporting requirements set by the US IRS. Foreign mutual funds and foreign ETF’s (and TFSA’s) are considered foreign investment trusts and will cause all sorts of nastiness to occur at tax time for offshore Americans. It’s hard to deal with and we find that it’s best to avoid unfortunately.

    • Mary on March 30, 2019 at 11:29 am

      Thanks for the caution, Glenn. I have learned, as an American citizen living in Canada, to avoid TFSA’s. Just had a quick question…… If my investments are all under the banner of a “RRSP”, does it matter to the IRS if the money is invested in Canadian mutual funds or foreign mutual funds?

      • Glenn Hyde on March 30, 2019 at 12:29 pm

        That’s a really good question Mary – my wife is a US person and of course as such we have to file IRS taxes each year for her as well as her Canadian. As you mentioned, a TFSA should be avoided as should Canadian mutual funds and Canadian ETF’s because they are considered to be “foreign trusts” to the IRS and subject to onerous reporting requirements. The TFSA is also non tax protected and is reportable for tax purposes to the IRS as well as it is not tax protected unlike in Canada. As for holding Canadian mutual funds and/or ETF’s in a tax protected Canadian RRSP, if it was us, I would play it safe and not do so but instead invest in US dollar American ETF’s. That said though, I can’t imagine how intrusive the IRS could be in terms of getting inside your RRSP but never say never. How are you making out with the FBAR’s by the way? Lotta work isn’t it?

  6. May on March 29, 2019 at 7:00 am

    I dumped Primerica about a decade ago, but I did it so that I didn’t get dinged with DSC fees. You are entitled to sell up to 10% of your DSC mutual funds free of charge each year. I did just that and moved the cash to my online broker account until what remained at Primerica was small enough that the DSC fee on the remainder was negligible. All it required was a transfer form initiated from the online broker specifying a transfer of “all non-DSC funds”. It took several years, but given the fact that the DSC fees were around 7% to start, it was well worth the delay. I found that it was best to initiate the transfer early in the year because Primerica tends to pay returns toward the end of December.

    I’ve never looked back.

    • Wes on March 29, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Great move May. I did the same thing myself a few years ago. First I switched all mutual funds with ‘Loads ( Front-End and DSC ) to low fee ETFs. But ETFs didn’t produce any results that I liked while still paying the annual management fees. I sold all ETFs and invested the funds in blue chip, dividend paying Canadian and US stocks. This was all done in my RRSP account which I converted to RIF when I retired five years ago. Since I transferred quite a chunk of funds to the online broker Self-Directed account ( of a major bank ), all transfer and management fees were waived. The only fees I pay are trading fees at a discount ( for being a 5 Gold Star client ). I only trade when I have to rebalance my account. My average annual fees is about $200.

    • Dale Roberts on March 30, 2019 at 7:34 am

      Hi May, happy to read that, but sorry about the DSC fees, those are nasty. I helped so many move away from Primericrap when I was an advisor at Tangerine. There are a few FIs that are so consistently terrible.

      I never heard of one good experience from any client at the big box mutual fund sales tentacle offices that we all know by name, all to well 🙂

      The advisors usually have no idea what they are doing, they are there to sell.

      There’s no need for any Canadian to be in that high fee stuff IMHO.

      It’s easy to move as Robb points out.

  7. O on March 29, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Is it easy to transfer a set dollar amount like $10,000 only
    Thanks

  8. Judith on March 29, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    Rob – what is the best way (and products) to invest in when cashing in RSPS. I am 71 and have approximately $125,000. Are there any specific RIF funds that you would recommend for the entire fund, or should I cash in only the required amount? I need help on this.

  9. Andrew Ede on March 29, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Hello. When transferring to Wealthsimple can it be in two names when the original owner of RRSPs is one name?
    Thanks for information.

    • Steve on July 20, 2019 at 9:19 am

      RSP’s are only ever in 1 name

  10. Mark on March 30, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    A good advisor who pro actively manages and services his clients is well worth the higher management fees.

  11. Michael on March 30, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Tried to open an account today and encountered two problems:
    1. There is some kind of bug in the transfer screens – if you left the workflow for some reason, it does not tell you that request was submitted, but when you try to repeat – it eventually will ask you to approve two duplicate transfers.
    2. Agreement states that the first $99,999.99 are subject to 0.5% fee, while the 0.4% fee is applied only to funds above this amount – that contradicts the advertisement a bit

  12. Fiona on April 3, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Can you transfer a segregated fund RRSP from Clarica to an RRSP (not segregated) at another institution the same way? I would like to move these investments but don’t know how and can’t find any articles regarding this type of move.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Ben on July 20, 2019 at 9:18 am

      Yes…

  13. Jaclyn on October 10, 2019 at 10:07 am

    I started an account before seeing your referral link. However, Wealthsimple says I can add a referral code retroactively within 30 days. Do you have a referral code?
    Thank you

    • Crystal on February 16, 2020 at 7:04 pm

      I’m in the same boat over here … I need a code, because I didn’t use the link.

  14. Matt on November 20, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Hi there,
    Is Wealthsimple’s RRSP better than say RBC RRSPs? Thinking of making the switch if so. Thanks!

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