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Online Investing with a Human Touch

The Best of Both Worlds


Innovisor is an all-new wealth management service. Clients primarily interact with our online platform but always have access to our team.

Our platform was built to guide investors to their goals—at a fraction of the typical cost. We only recommend investments backed by rigorous academic research.





The process is simple with minimal hand-holding.



Number One

Register on Our Get Started page


Our Get Started page lets us find the perfect investment strategy for you and your goals.



Number Two

Schedule a Call with Innovisor


Speak with our portfolio manager to finalize investment plan and insurance needs.



Number Three

Decide on Additional Services


If you decide that you need additional wealth management services, you pay only for what you use.




Register & Get Started 


About Us


Innovisor is Experienced and Independent 


Jim Steel CFA, CFP Photo

Jim Steel CFA, CFP

Portfolio Manager
Read Bio

I grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario with my parents, brother and sister. My interest in the financial industry came from a family friend who got me started investing while I was still in high school.

In 1985, I attended the University of Waterloo to study sciences – where I met my business partner, Chris. We became lifelong friends. While at Waterloo, I was making a lot of money trading stocks on the side. This experience made a career in sciences less attractive to a naïve 19-year-old. I left Waterloo after one year and took a job in Toronto at Dominion Securities. I also took night classes at the University of Toronto to study economics, accounting, English and business philosophy.  

The market was booming during this time and I thought my investing success was a result of innate skill. That all changed on October 19, 1987 when equity markets around the world suffered their biggest one-day loss since the crash of 1929.

I realized there was no easy path to financial success and many of the investment advisors I admired weren’t really working in the best interests of their clients. They were simply doing whatever they could to generate commissions.

I left Dominion Securities, moved to Kingston and attended Queen’s University to pursue a degree in Economics (and Music). After graduating, I took a job with RBC Dominion Securities in Ottawa as an investment advisor. I was excited to learn the tricks of stock-picking, managing money and helping people. Instead, I was sent back to Toronto to learn the fine art of cold calling and persuading people to buy stocks over the phone.

During my 11 years at RBC, I was never really taught to manage money properly. Over time, particularly when the tech bubble imploded in 2000-2001, I started to see that the bank’s recommendations – stock-picking, high-cost mutual funds, etc. – still weren’t adding value to clients.

During this time, my desire to build real value led me to earn my Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter. Between studying, conversations with Chris and reading on my own, the blinders finally came off. I was a believer in evidence-based investing.

I tried to implement my new vision at the bank but received no support. I left to start an independent investment management firm with two colleagues. Ultimately, our philosophies didn’t align, and we went our separate ways after a five-year partnership.

In 2008, Polaris Financial was born. Now, we are thrilled to help even more clients with Innovisor – our online-assisted, low-cost wealth management platform (a division of Polaris Financial Inc.).

Jim skiing in Fernie, BCSkiing in Fernie, BC.
Jim Steel and family at rain forest vacation in Costa Rica.Family rainforest vacation in Costa Rica.


Outside of the office, I enjoy playing guitar, running and mountain biking. I often bring my two border collies along on my adventures. I have completed three half-marathons. My wife enjoys road cycling, so I join her there frequently. I also enjoy going to the gym, skiing and the occasional round of golf. We have two wonderful daughters and live in Old Ottawa South.


Chris Odd Photo

Chris Odd

Executive Director of Technology & Operations
Read Bio

I’ve always been a “tech nerd.”

I went to the University of Waterloo, where I met Jim – my wife was his lab partner and introduced us. We became roommates and great friends. While there, I developed an interest in the investment industry. Many of the elective classes I chose and books I read revolved around finance. My exposure to Efficient Market Hypothesis and Modern Portfolio Theory were particularly eye-opening.

I graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Mathematics, majoring in Business and Information Systems. I worked for IBM for 5 years as an employee, then started an IT consulting firm and did work for IBM in that capacity for an additional 8 years.

Throughout our careers, Jim and I often discussed portfolio management. We both were confident in the merit of passive management and felt fees in the industry were egregiously high.


Chris and his wife at their weddingWedding in Santa Maria di Leuca.
Chris Odd and his bandmates at a Canada Day concert.Canada Day Concert at the Royal Canadian Legion.


In 2008, we began discussing what it would take to start our own portfolio management firm. Our complementary skills are a natural fit. Jim is a CFA charter holder with decades of experience in the financial world, and I bring a keen eye for process re-engineering. He’s great at sales and strategy; I’m very detail oriented with deep technical skills.

After working together at Polaris, we built Innovisor to offer a level of professional portfolio management usually reserved for high net worth investors, at a fraction of the cost. I spend most of my time behind the scenes at Innovisor, but if you need help troubleshooting our online platform, I will probably be your contact.

Outside of the office, I love to play hockey – which I’ve basically been doing since I could walk. My wife and I learned to ski together and enjoy going to the West Coast on ski trips. I also play the guitar – something my father, an accomplished musician, passed down to me. I do a fair bit of recording (just for fun) and perform on occasion at weddings and community events. I also enjoy golfing and cycling. My wife and I live in Toronto with our three terrific sons.


 

Tom Blackwell Photo

Tom Blackwell

Senior Developer
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I’m a Senior Developer at Innovisor.

As a child, I had an insatiable curiosity about how things worked and spent a great deal of time tearing things apart and trying to figure them out. I eventually became interested in electronics and computers and went to McMaster University, where I got a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

I worked in a variety of industries, including power plant automation, telephone system design, retail sales hardware and thermal image processing. I usually ended up working on small, multidisciplinary teams, identifying problems and trying to fix them.


Practicing guitar after a round of do-it-yourself amplifier repair.Practicing guitar after a round of do-it-yourself amplifier repair.
Exploring the park with Mary Ellen and our rescue dog, LeroyExploring the park with Mary Ellen and our rescue dog, Leroy.

Outside of work, my partner Mary Ellen and I volunteer with a dog rescue organization and foster rescued dogs while they are awaiting adoption. I've been a music fan since I was about ten and attend concerts frequently. I also play guitar and spend time designing and building musical gadgets and effects. My other interests include cooking and photography.



Terri Brugmans Photo

Terri Brugmans

Administration
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I’m the main administrative contact for all Innovisor clients.

I began working in the financial services industry over 25 years ago. I enjoy supporting the team at Innovisor and helping our clients achieve their goals.

Touring Hawaii by helicopter

Touring Hawaii by helicopter

My kids and I (and my dog, Ben)My kids and me(and my dog, Ben)

I’m an active volunteer, working on many boards and volunteering with the United Way, the Food Bank and the Ottawa Humane Society.

I live outside of the city with my family and 2 dogs.  Outside of the office, I love to cook, read, camp and travel.

Chad Parker Photo

Chad Parker

Associate
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I’ve been part of the Polaris team since mid-2017. I assist Terri Brugmans in the administration of our accounts. 

I recently graduated with a degree in Business and plan to further my studies and obtain my Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) designation in the near future. 

Outside of the office, along with my son, Lincoln, and wife, Cassandra, we love to spend time in their backyard or at the Bruce Pit walking our dog. I’m also an avid movie buff.

Three generations of Parker men taking in a sunny cottage day.
All dressed up for my older brother's wedding in Mississauga.All dressed up for my older brother's wedding in Mississauga.


Our Team: Top, left to right: Tom, Chris Odd, Jim Steel.  Bottom, left to right: Terri Brugmans, Chad

We adhere to an “evidence-based” investment approach.

That means we focus on what can be controlled:

  • Keeping fees and costs low
  • Deferring or eliminating taxes
  • Globally diversifying your portfolio
  • Tilting your portfolio towards factors that correlate with higher expected returns over the long term
  • An appropriate asset allocation (the division of your portfolio between stocks, bonds, and cash), based on your ability, willingness, and need to take risk.

We believe in the academic research that is the foundation for the investment philosophy of Dimensional Fund Advisors. To learn more about Dimensional Fund Advisors, visit our Resources page.

How is Innovisor Different? 

Higher Expected Returns



Money

Low-Fee Services

Fees are an often-overlooked aspect of investing. The amount of fees you pay has a huge impact on your returns over time. 

Our online platform has low management fees.  

Treasure Map

Access to Dimensional Fund Advisors

Innovisor is the only Canadian low-fee online advisor providing access to Dimensional Fund Advisors' investment solutions. Innovisor builds portfolios through strategies managed by Dimensional Fund Advisors. Dimensional is a pioneer in implementing the great ideas in finance for the benefit of clients.

Dimensional Fund Advisors has an impressive track record. Their investment philosophy echoes ours and is based on rigorous academic research. For more information, see our FAQs.



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We Don’t Stop at the Portfolio

All Innovisor clients receive portfolio management services but we don’t stop there.

We also offer a full range of additional wealth management services to our clients on an à la carte basis.

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We Are Fiduciaries

All Innovisor portfolio managers are “fiduciaries.” This means we are legally obligated to act in your best interest. 

We always take this responsibility very seriously.


Chad Parker and Jim Steel in the office, discussing a client.

Services

Beyond Investments

Clients primarily interact with our online platform but always have access to our team.  Our services include: 



Couple


For All Clients



Portfolio management

A review of your à la carte service needs 


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À la carte Services


Comprehensive financial projections (free for clients with $100,000+ portfolios)

Tax preparation: personal and business

Tax planning: personal and business

Estate, will, and power of attorney review

Life and disability insurance

Our Fees  

Simple, low fees

Small stack of coins

HOUSEHOLD ASSETS

$0 -
$69,999

ANNUAL FEES


Flat Fee of $500.

Two small stacks of coins

HOUSEHOLD ASSETS

$70,000 -
$249,999

ANNUAL FEES

Two small stacks of coins

HOUSEHOLD ASSETS

$250,000 -
$499,000

ANNUAL FEES

Two medium sized stacks of coins

HOUSEHOLD ASSETS

$500,000 -
$999,999

ANNUAL FEES


Two large stacks of coins

HOUSEHOLD ASSETS

$1,000,000 -
$1,999,999

ANNUAL FEES

Two extra large stacks of coins

HOUSEHOLD ASSETS

$2,000,000+


ANNUAL FEES


Please call (855) 819-4827 for fees.


*Note: Fees shown are annual management fees only and do not include management fees charged by the mutual funds in our portfolios. Those fees are approximately 0.30% - 0.40% annually.    

Jim, Tom, and Chris discuss strategy


More Details


  • Each individual account opened with Innovisor must have at least $2,500 in it.
  • Fees for additional wealth management services vary based on your needs. Get in touch and we’ll send any information you need.  
  • For an additional 0.50% annually on the fees you see above, you can meet with us face-to-face. Contact us to learn more about this option.


  Fee FAQs


Is your fee schedule graduated or cascading (i.e., if I have $485,000, do I pay .70% on the first $249,999 and then 0.60% on the balance, or just 0.60% on everything)?

We charge a flat fee at predetermined asset levels. If you have $485,000 in assets invested with Innovisor, you will pay 0.60% on the entire $485,000. When your assets reach $500,000 this fee drops to 0.50% on the entire amount.

Does my fee threshold change as my portfolio value increases or decreases?

Changes in market value will only lower your fees as you cross a threshold (i.e., portfolio value increasing). Initially, the fee level will be determined by deposit value. Any subsequent decreases in portfolio value (caused by markets declining) will NOT result in higher fees. However, if portfolio value decreases due to withdrawals, you may have to pay higher fees based on the schedule.

How do Innovisor fees compare to traditional wealth management Firms?

Traditional wealth management fees are likely to be significantly higher. Traditional advisors often engage in stock picking, market timing and similar strategies that increase fees and decrease expected returns over time.

Some advisors also have conflicts of interest. For example, at some large banks, advisors are incentivized to recommend in-house bank products and other bank services. Generally, these in-house products carry higher fees than third-party alternatives.

At Innovisor, we keep portfolio management fees low by employing a simple and academically proven investment approach. It eliminates many of the inefficiencies that exist in the traditional wealth management model.

How do Innovisor fees compare to a robo-advisor?

Management fees for a pure robo-advisor may be higher or lower depending on each firm’s fee schedule. But you should find that Innovisor fees are competitive with other robo-advisor firms in general.

When you work with a robo-advisor, you may not get the benefit of a human advisor or access to additional services like:

  • Financial Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Insurance
  • Tax Preparation
  • Tax Planning

Resources


Selected statements, articles, and videos that that will help answer the questions we hear the most.


FAQs

 

Who are Dimensional Fund Advisors and why do you use their investment products exclusively?

Innovisor is among the select firms who have access to Dimensional Fund Advisors Investment Solutions. Founded in 1981, Dimensional has a long history of applying rigorous academic research to practical investing. They manage over $770 billion CAD and offer a full range of equity and fixed-income strategies designed to target higher expected returns. We believe these funds provide the best vehicles for building cost-effective portfolios. You can learn more about DFA and its academic approach to investing on the Dimensional Fund Advisors website.

Can I invest in individual stocks/funds using an Innovisor account?

No. Innovisor only uses mutual funds managed by Dimensional Fund Advisors. The evidence is overwhelming that the price of publicly traded stocks and bonds incorporates all publicly available information in nanoseconds. Efforts to find mispriced stocks are unlikely to be successful.

For an excellent discussion of this subject, read this article by Larry Swedroe, the Director of Research for the BAM ALLIANCE.

Can I transfer existing accounts to an Innovisor Account?

Yes, you can transfer existing accounts (like a TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP, etc.). An Innovisor account must be opened before the transfer is initiated and all existing investments in the account will need to be sold prior to the transfer. Before liquidating non-registered (e.g., not an RRSP, RESP, RIF, or TFSA) investments, check with a tax professional so you understand the tax consequences of doing so.

Transferring existing investments (i.e., mutual funds, stocks, bonds, etc.) “in-cash” will cause the sale of these securities by the delivering institution, and they may charge fees. Clients should investigate these fees before transferring. Please contact us if you have any questions about this.

How do I get started with Innovisor?

Follow these steps:

  • Register on our Get Started page.
  • Optional: register your spouse.
  • Attend a call with one of our portfolio managers to finalize your investment profile.
  • Sign your contract electronically.

Next, your portfolio manager will open your investment account(s) and begin transferring your assets.


Need a question answered that you don’t see here?

Explore our other FAQ topics



Chris Odd and Jim Steel of Innovisor, a division of Polaris Financial.

Get Started with Innovisor

If you are ready to become a client, please proceed to our Get Started page

If you would like to learn more about Innovisor before becoming a client, please provide us with your information below.

Someone from Innovisor will respond within 24-hours Mon — Fri.