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Wealthsimple raises $75 million and says it's closer on path toward an IPO

Key Points
  • The round was led by the digital investment arm of Germany's Allianz, with additional backing coming from early investor Power Financial.
  • Wealthsimple CEO Michael Katchen tells CNBC he sees the funding as a "great step" in bringing the firm closer to a stock market debut.
  • Katchen says Wealthsimple is looking to "ultimately replace banks" in becoming the "primary financial partner" for clients.
WealthSimple CEO Michael Katchen poses for a photograph inside his former offices at 372 Richmond Street in downtown Toronto on September 18, 2015.
Brian B. Bettencourt | Toronto Star | Getty Images

Online investment management platform Wealthsimple said Wednesday that it raised 100 million Canadian dollars ($75 million) in a fresh round of funding.

The Toronto-based start-up said the investment was led by the digital investment arm of Germany's Allianz, Allianz X, with additional backing coming from early investor Power Financial.

Wealthsimple's CEO Michael Katchen told CNBC back in October that the firm was likely to raise more money. He also said the eventual goal for the company was to launch an initial public offering, but that this was still "several years out."

While that's still the case today, Katchen said he saw the funding as a "great step" in bringing the firm closer to a stock market debut.

"It's really where we're trying to take the business over the coming years," he told CNBC in an interview Wednesday.

Wealthsimple is one of a number of so-called robo-advisors, platforms that use algorithms to automate investment decisions. It only has a handful of human advisors at hand to answer client queries. The company has also branched out into trading.

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Mission to 'replace banks'

Last year, the company branched out into trading, launching a commission-free stock trading app. The race toward such zero-fee investment services has become particularly heated with the arrival of new players like U.S. firm Robinhood.

But it's also been partnering with financial institutions, plugging its technology into their back end or powering their service on the front end, taking care of everything from investment management to regulatory compliance.

Katchen said Wealthsimple is looking to "ultimately replace banks" in becoming the "primary financial partner" for clients.

With Power Financial and now Allianz on board as backers, Katchen added, that "helps us partner with others by bringing credibility and institutional knowledge" to enable the firm to win more partnership deals in the future.

The investment from Allianz's venture arm is significant, given the firm is a behemoth in the world of asset management. The company has over $2 trillion in assets under management.

Wealthsimple's services are currently only available in Canada, the U.S. and Britain. The start-up said it would use the latest funding to explore new product offerings and fuel further growth in its existing markets.

The investment manager says it now has more than $4.5 billion of assets under management and 150,000 clients under its belt. Its primary aim is to make investing easier for first-time and younger investors with little experience in investing.