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Millennials, more so than any other demographic, are ready to drop their financial adviser to pursue Do-It-Yourself (DIY) investing instead. 

According to a recent report from global comparison site Finder.com, nearly one in three Canadian millennials (33.7 per cent), say they plan to quit working with their financial adviser or are seriously considering it. Generation Z follows close behind, with 31 per cent thinking of moving on from their advisers in favour of DIY investing. 

In contrast, only 21 per cent of Generation X and 11 per cent of Baby Boomers say that they’re ready to let go of their advisers, or at least considering it.  

Sheldon Petrie, a 39-year-old application engineer living in Kitchener, Ont., quit working with his former adviser a few years ago after realizing how much the fees were costing him.

“When I first started with mutual funds, I thought that I had no options but to pay the fees. It was around the time that I got my current house I started researching personal finance in Canada and I really came to the stark realization that a 2 per cent + fee every year just erodes your returns,” Petrie said. 

Petrie educated himself on investing through different subreddits, podcasts, YouTube channels and books. “I learned that investing really wasn’t all that complicated,” he said.

Petrie wanted to see if he’d be happier using a robo-adviser approach or a self-directed approach, so he moved his TFSA monthly contributions over to Wealthsimple and his RRSP to Questrade in a couch potato portfolio. The latter was a three-fund portfolio comprised of low-fee ETFs. Now, he’s fully invested at Questrade using asset allocation ETFs. He has also since hired the services of a fee-only planner who provides a financial review and planning advice.  

Petrie is not alone on wanting to save money on investment fees. Among all generations surveyed, the most common reason for firing an adviser was to save money on fees (54 per cent) followed by “having more control over my money” (42 per cent).

Notably, Generation Z was eager to have greater control over their investments, more so than any other generation (48 per cent). And, what stood out among millennials was that 25 per cent value the convenience of newer online and mobile investment options. 

“I think what Generation Z and millennials are noticing is that these new options for investing for their future take away a lot of those barriers that existed even a few years ago,” said Nicole McKnight, PR Manager at Finder.com, who analyzed the survey data and wrote the Finder.com report. 

““You might have had to ask your financial adviser, ‘How do I make a trade on the stock market?’ or maybe they would need to do it for you. A lot of those barriers have been taken away.”

Additionally, since many millennials and Gen Z feel shut out of the housing market and aren’t receiving the same workplace pensions their parents did, they’re feeling increased pressure to take a more active role in planning for their financial future, McKnight said. 

“We aren’t bound to the same thinking and ideas that our parents had,” Petrie added. “For them, access to ETFs and low-cost investing was non-existent to most Canadians. None of my parents knew anything about investing other than GICs and mutual funds.”

Petrie points out that many millennials aren’t even banking the same way as their parents. In Petrie’s case, he got fed up with the fees of traditional banks in his 20s and moved to President’s Choice Financial, now known as Simplii Financial. 

Before younger Canadians make the leap to DIY investing, it’s important they do as much research as possible to learn their own risk tolerance and the pros and cons of different accounts, such as trading within a TFSA, RRSP or unregistered account, McKnight said. 

New investors should also be careful not to put all of their money on trends like meme stocks. 

“If you going to try jumping on a bandwagon, set aside a certain portion of your savings that you’d be comfortable losing,” McKnight said. “When it comes to investing, it’s all about diversifying.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2021.

Leah Golob, The Canadian Press