Spotlight on WealthBar (now CI Direct Investing)

Describe your company and its product.

WealthBar Financial Services Inc. (now CI Direct Investing) offers an easy, lower-cost way for Canadians to invest online, getting unlimited advice that helps them reach their financial goals. Clients can choose from a range of ETF and Private Investment Portfolios for their RRSP, TFSA or any other account type.

What year did your company start?


Which city (or cities) are you located?

WealthBar helps clients everywhere in Canada. The head office is in Vancouver, BC.

Describe your company culture in three words.

  • Fun
  • Collaborative
  • Authentic

How do you celebrate company or employee wins?

At our regular town hall meetings over a catered lunch, we highlight the big wins for the company or outstanding individuals… often with a toast of champagne or pop — entirely up to the employee! We sometimes have special lunches or dinners out or fun activities that help us come together as a team.

What is the problem that you are trying to solve?

Canadians are often stressed out, paying too much in fees for investments that they sometimes don’t understand — and which are not tied to their long-term financial goals. That’s why we offer convenient online investing at low fees, with unlimited access to financial advisers who look out for the clients’ interests.

What is your biggest milestone to date?

Joining the CI Financial family as part of their growth of their digital strategy in early 2019. CI’s scale and resources will help us grow, while we will provide experience and industry-leading online tools and services to help execute CI’s own digital strategy and innovation pathways.

What is your biggest challenge?

Canadians are somewhat famously averse to change when it comes to their investing habits, not taking the time to re-examine the value they are getting for their money with the big banks (which they may have been with since they were 11 years old). You can offer the potential for better returns at a third of the fee of a traditional investment, with easy, online convenience — but getting people to make an “easy” switch is actually not so easy.

What is your motto?

Wall Street investing for Main Street Canadians.

How are you making an impact?

We’ve improved the financial health of thousands of Canadians by helping them achieve their financial goals, develop better savings habits and improve their financial literacy. WealthBar pioneered this new robo-adviser model in Canada, giving investors the opportunity to invest like millionaires (even if they are still thousand-aires).

What is your hope for the future of tech in BC?

The financial sector, in particular, has plenty of room to innovate and expand through fintech — and we’ve seen some real local success stories in this sector. We’re so proud to be part of this growing culture of innovation in BC and look forward to seeing more of these tech-driven companies make an impact.

Lightning Round with Tea Nicola, CEO of WealthBar Financial Services

What excites you about your job?

The team. Building and being able to work every day with such a great team is what motivates me.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

Convincing people to trust a fledgeling startup to safely and securely manage their life savings for them, was definitely our biggest challenge initially. We were amazed and humbled by how many early adopters committed to saving with WealthBar.

If you can give advice to your 20-year-old self, what would you say?

Trust your instincts.

What are your pet peeves?

Dishonesty, lack of authenticity.

Words of wisdom to other tech CEOs or founders?

Free advice is seldom cheap. Trust yourself.

Favourite city you visited?

New York. Maybe I’ll retire there one day!

What is your formula for success?

Build a great team.

Name one book that everyone should read.

The Dip by Seth Godin

How do you decompress?

Dungeons & Dragons. I never miss a Friday night session.

Favourite movie?